From IEEE Communications Magazine October 2017
Leveraging Advanced Technologies
Tao Zhang, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc), oversees the planning, development, acquisition, and use of the Society’s information systems and applications to ensure effective and efficient support for the Society’s services, products, and operations. ComSoc offers a wide range of services and products, including conferences, publications, standardization, and training and education. ComSoc also operates many technical communities, working groups, cross-society initiatives, forums, and meetings. The information systems and applications must also support additional ComSoc operations such as marketing and recruiting. To do all this ComSoc’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) must leverage advanced technologies to maximize its effectiveness and efficiency.
Dr. Tao Zhang, an IEEE Fellow, is a Distinguished Engineer/Senior Director of Cisco’s Corporate Strategic Innovation Group. He joined Cisco in 2012 as the Chief Scientist/ CTO for Smart Connected Vehicles. Since then, he has also been driving strategies, technology, and eco-systems for IoT security and Fog Computing. Prior to Cisco, he was Chief Scientist and Director of Mobile and Vehicular Networking at Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bell Communications Research or Bellcore). For about 30 years, Tao has been directing research and product development to not just create innovations but also transform them into practical solutions. He is a co-founder and a board director of the OpenFog Consortium, the CIO and a Board Governor of the IEEE Communications Society (2016 and 2017), and a co-founder and a founding Board Director of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA). He holds over 50 US patents and has co-authored two books: Vehicle Safety Communications: Protocols, Security, and Privacy (2012) and IP-Based Next Generation Wireless Networks.
First, ComSoc has long desired a way to gain holistic, deeper, and more accurate insight into its members and how its members and others use ComSoc products and services. Who are using ComSoc services and products? How do members and non-members use ComSoc services and products differently? How satisfied are the users? What values and features attract users to ComSoc products and services? What events and factors influence the usage of ComSoc services and products and how? While such information is essential to evaluating existing products and services and developing new ones, obtaining the information had been difficult. The main reason was that different ComSoc services and products (e.g., membership management, conferences, and training and education services) had been using separate systems and tools to collect data, and they often collect inconsistent data elements and store them in different data formats.
ComSoc has developed a ComSoc Member Relational Management System (MRMS) to consolidate data about membership, publications, conferences, and training and education services into a single system. This MRMS provides a holistic and more accurate view of ComSoc members, potential members, and general public users of Com- Soc services and products, along with data on how they use ComSoc products and services. It can also make such information available to ComSoc volunteer leaders and staff in a more timely fashion. It further provides easier-to-use tools to perform deeper and more accurate analysis based on the raw data to assist decision making by Com- Soc volunteer leaders.
Second, to increase ComSoc’s value to its members, ComSoc plans to develop and offer members-only content, products, and services. To enable members-only offerings, we have developed a members-only section (or a members wall) on the Com- Soc website (comsoc.org), where members can enjoy contents, products, and services available only to them. We have integrated the ComSoc website with the IEEE Single Sign On system to allow users to log into and navigate both IEEE and ComSoc websites with a single account, and also use this single account to purchase ComSoc products and services. We have further integrated the ComSoc Training E-Commerce system with the IEEE Enterprise Shopping Cart to streamline the process for users to access and purchase ComSoc products and services.
Third, ComSoc conferences have been providing tremendous value to both the academic and industry communities. Essential to the success of these conferences are the tools for the conference organizers to organize and monitor the conferences and to ensure timely publication of the conference papers. We updated the Web content workflow used for running ComSoc conferences to allow conference organizers and ComSoc staff to update conference websites faster and more easily. A long-standing issue the conference organizers have been facing was the lack of ability for them to report “no-show papers” (i.e., papers accepted but not presented by anyone at a conference) at or immediately after a conference. Since the IEEE does not publish no-show papers, the lack of ability to timely report these papers often caused long delays in the publication of conference papers. We have upgraded the Conference Session Chair Report App to enable session monitors to report no-show papers in real time, which allows the presented papers to be published in IEEE Xplore much more quickly than before.
Fourth, to further unify and streamline IT support for the many different products and services ComSoc offers, we have been redesigning the ComSoc website. We are integrating the many separate websites used to support different ComSoc publications (e.g., WCET, Green ICT), ComSoc chapters, and ComSoc committees into the single new website. The new website will offer improved design and functionality, allow easier and faster updates, and further consolidate user and usage data that have previously been scattered among different websites. We have further improved ComSoc website to meet higher Web Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA) so potential users can find ComSoc-offered content, services, and products more easily.
Fifth, as users are rapidly shifting to digital editions of ComSoc publications from paper editions, ComSoc has been building the digital editions for all ComSoc publications, with the digitized ComSoc magazines to become available on the new ComSoc website first and soon.
In conclusion, we must ensure that ComSoc continues to leverage advanced technologies to maximize its effectiveness and efficiency. The significant accomplishments by the ICT team over these past two years are just a start and not an end.