From IEEE Communications Magazine January 2017
Mid-Term Progress Report
As I write this President’s Page, my first year as ComSoc President has just finished. My goal as President, as expressed in my January 2016 column, is to “make the Society the go-to place for communications information, standards, technology, and community.” At this half-way point, it is my belief that we have made great strides in reaching this goal.
The first order of business was to create the organizational structure (see the chart below) needed to generate, and then provide, communications information to our current members and to the many potential members we need to grow our Society. To accomplish this task, two new positions were created: the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and the Chief Content Officer (CCO).
The CMO oversees the Society’s marketing initiatives across multiple platforms and media driving ComSoc quality, engagement, and brand consistency. Among the responsibilities of the CMO are the adoption of emerging media techniques such as podcasts, infographics, slide-shares, boards, blogs, and videos, along with the use of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
The CCO oversees the Society’s online content, including training platforms, webinars, newsletters, etc. Working closely with the CMO, the CCO provides the information that is needed to bring our messages, technologies, activities, and the like, to our constituents and to a wider audience.
Equivalent to our Director of Technical Committees, we created a new position, Director of Industry Communities. Where the Director of Technical Committees oversees our 20+ committees, such as Computer Communications, Data Communications, etc., the Director of Industry Communities oversees the first three communities that we created: 5G, IoT, and SD. Currently these communities have more than 30 industry leaders participating.
Changes in our Board Committees were also made. The Ad Hoc Young Professionals Committee was elevated to a permanent Standing Committee. This committee is tasked to bring more professionals that are within 15 years of their degree into the ComSoc fold. An Ad Hoc Policy committee was formed to determine what Policy activities the IEEE Communications Society should participate in and how to pursue a Policy agenda that is appropriate and creates value for IEEE Communications Society membership.
In the Education and Training area, we held our 2nd Student Summer School in June where 40 students participated on-site in Torino, Italy, and 50-70 people took the courses via Internet streaming. Planning activities for the third session are underway (to be held in the U.S). We held 26 online live courses with a total of 975 registrations as part of our ComSoc Training Program. The “Wireless for the Internet of Things” course was offered three times during 2016 and was our most popular course with 200 seats sold.
We have had great success in our Industry and Standards strategies. We have taken leadership positions in three new initiatives: 5G, IoT, and Fog Computing. In the 5G area, we started with a workshop in Princeton, NJ on 29-30 August 2016 with participation by more than 40 volunteers and IEEE staff representing 12 Societies/Operating Units. We established volunteer- led Working Groups to drive activity including: Web Portal, Content Development, Community Development, Standards, Education, Publications, Branding, Roadmap, Events and Industry Engagement. Six 5G summits where held across the world in the US, China, Germany, India, and Denmark, and drew from 100 to 400 in-person attendees and up to 1000 people watching Summits in the U.S. over IEEE TV. In 2017 we will continue to conduct summits on a global basis, launch an IEEE 5G Newsletter with original content focused on a broad audience, and refresh the portal that we launched in October on a regular basis with original content, including written Q&As, interviews, opinion pieces and podcasts. Lastly, we plan to establish and build a global, engaged IEEE 5G Community through a broad range of channels including Collabratec, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The Internet of Things (IoT) initiative is sponsored by five major players: the Communications, Computer, Signal Processing, and Consumer Education Societies, and the Sensor Council. Some 15 other Societies are also participating. In 2016 we held a series of planning meetings and launched an IoT Directory and Registration Project. We completed a Draft Proposal for the IoT Magazine and selected an Editor-in-Chief. Planning is underway to hold our first IoT Vertical Summit in Anchorage, Alaska in September 2017.
Fog Computing is not as far along as the previous two. Initial funding is provided by ComSoc, with proposals being submitted to the IEEE Future Directions Committee for additional funding as a new Initiative. Papers were solicited for a feature topic of Communications Magazine, and so many good papers were received that the topic will be published in two parts. To collaborate with industry more, we are working with the OpenFog Consortium. We have attended all of their meetings and are actively influencing OpenFog directions.
We are putting the pieces together to create a one-stop Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Service System. The ComSoc Member Relationship Management Database/Tool was approved by our Board of Governors and vendors were selected for its implementation. The go-live date is expected in the first quarter. Our single sign on (SSO) work has been completed and we can now create a “member-wall” for web content, thereby making ComSoc membership more valuable. A team is now in place discussing products and services to be offered to members only.
Lastly, we have been working to establish enhanced value propositions for our constituents: academics/industry researchers, students, and industry practitioners and management. For academics, the issue thus far is not to retain academics but to give value for membership money, and possibly attract academics from adjacent disciplines who otherwise would not have joined the IEEE. Ways of accomplishing this include entrepreneurship, intermediate ComSoc membership/recognition status, stronger support of young academics, wider course portfolios, and an Xplore app with offline content.
Currently it seems that ComSoc does not provide value for students, or they do not understand the value we provide. The challenge then is to convince potential members that there is some exclusive content or service (i.e., value) that is obtainable only by ComSoc members. These may include special initiatives directed to students, exclusive content accessible only by ComSoc members, online forums, and interaction between students and world-class technical leaders.
Defining a concise value proposition for non-academic Com- Soc members is a challenging task. The problems start with the definition of the target group. Basically, we are trying to define a value proposition for all ComSoc members not engaged with technology research, be it in academia or in industry. For the technical engineering professional, we could provide continuous professional education, create and manage online technical communities, create a magazine that provides content focused on the industry professional, and improve how ComSoc fosters professional networking. For executives, analysts, and business focused professionals, we could provide information about technology trends as well as awards and recognition.
In December I will report back to you what and how we accomplished the goals that I set forth in my first column in January 2016. In addition, I will provide our next President a guide to what still needs to be done to increase our membership, our value to our membership, and our standing in the international community.