From IEEE Communications Magazine January 2018
For a Stronger and Forward-Looking ComSoc
Khaled B. Letaief
It is a privilege and a great responsibility to serve as the President of the IEEE Communications Society, which has reached in 2017 its 65th anniversary, for the years 2018 and 2019. In this role, I endeavor to build upon the outstanding efforts of our past presidents, volunteer leaders, staff, and members to take our beloved society to a new level of excellence.
As the world's leading organization for communications professionals, ComSoc has been at the forefront of technological development with many achievements. However, it is now at a crossroads and is facing significant challenges: a decrease in membership, especially student members; fiscal challenges; and a decline of industry participation.
To continue revolutionizing and remain at the forefront of technological development, ComSoc must evolve and continue to be at the heart of communications technology development in the world. In the next two years, I will have the good fortune to be surrounded by dedicated volunteers who are keen on addressing our challenges with a focus on the following five areas.
Membership: In recent years, most IEEE societies have witnessed a decline in membership. One of our key goals over the next two years is to reverse this trend by attracting new members and retaining existing ones by enhancing benefits and developing value-added programs. Of particular interest is to develop succinct value propositions for our members, including academics, practitioners, industry professionals, young professionals, researchers, women, and students.
Fiscal and Structural Efficiency: In recent years, we have witnessed budget challenges, and we expect to face more budget pressure in the next two years. To address these, we will work hard to improve efficiency and increase revenue opportunities from our portfolio such as conferences and publications, without compromising quality and increasing dues, and potentially through building education and training as the third pillar in ComSoc’s future growth. Another important issue to consider is the continuous increase in ComSoc infrastructure costs. A careful analysis of such infrastructure is needed and appropriate measures are needed to strengthen and streamline our structures and culture in order to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness.
Industry Engagement: In recent years, ComSoc has witnessed the decline of industry participation in our journals, conferences, and membership. Reversing this trend is of fundamental importance to ComSoc, and under the leadership of our Vice-President for Industry and Standards Activities, we shall intensify industry participation by developing programs that are relevant to industry, practitioners, and industry professionals.
Publications and Conferences: Publications are our life blood. In particular, providing the highest quality technical information represents the most valuable service IEEE offers to our community. Currently, ComSoc has 13 solely owned journals, four solely magazines, and seven co-owned publications. Over the next few years, we shall continue to review our offerings and explore new opportunities, including open access and the incubation of new publications in the emerging areas of interest to our members.
Conferences represent another important pillar for ComSoc. Over the past four years alone, we have organized over 157 conferences in 37 countries and 33 summits in 14 countries. These conferences and events have attracted over 40,000 attendees and have have helped us enhance our relevance and impact. To maintain our leadership, it will be important that we review our current offerings, enhance our services to better address member’s needs, improve the financial efficiency of our conferences, and increase participation in our events, particularly from students and industry.
Relevance: To maintain our global leadership, it is critical that we enhance our relevance by broadening our scope to emerging technology areas while exploring and exploiting new technologies to promote the services provided by our publications, conferences, and educational offerings which need to be of the highest quality at affordable prices. It is also equally important that we promote integrity, openness, and inclusiveness by putting more emphasis on developing transparent processes for selecting volunteers and grooming the next generation of leaders. We also need to focus on growing our values to members, including academics, practitioners, young professionals, researchers, women, and students.
In conclusion, ComSoc has already made lasting and significant contributions to our field. Over the next two years, we will endeavor to work hard with the volunteer leaders and staff to innovate for a better tomorrow through our publications, standards, conferences, and educational activities. Following past tradition, my future messages will provide an opportunity to introduce our elected Vice-Presidents, shown below, along with our volunteer leaders in more depth. We shall also describe in more detail our plans and strategies.
Thank you for your support and trust and please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the ComSoc Board or Standing Committees with your ideas and offers of help.
A very happy, prosperous, and healthy new year 2018!