The membership model and value proposition for membership‐based professional societies.
IEEE has a great potential for growth and to accommodate needs of modern engineers, yet it’s important to note that the current membership model does not reflect those and must undergo a review. Taking into account the fact that our organization is aging, worrisome 30% retention of IEEE student members, below expectation member satisfaction trends and market penetration at the surprisingly low level of 6-8% we should thrive to evolve in direction of better accessibility. It is especially important in developing countries where IEEE can play a significant leading role in engineering education, accreditation, and engineers development. However, because membership fee is prohibitively high for most of the potential members in the developing countries, I would propose to reconsider the membership model and create a much more flexible system where members will have a chance to select what they really need from the IEEE membership and what they are paying for.
There is also an issue of IEEE recognition in particular countries that results in under-appreciation of IEEE role and position. Building our organization’s brand is an important direction so that IEEE membership is a valued and prestigious accomplishment.
Our Institute could have a vital contribution in developing a career of young engineers and scientists. Societies, uniting top-class specialists, operating within the framework of IEEE provide an excellent tool, that could be utilized for building a platform, where youngest could serve one’s apprenticeship. Such activity should be formalized, masters in their field should be able to announce vacancies via IEEE structures. We should further develop both our services and an information on IEEE to the students not only of electrical and electronic engineering faculties but also to all related specialties and increase activity on those matters on both every section level and at every society and chapter level as well.
Another important direction would be to support creative professionals, including young engineers, in their effort to create various types of start-ups. There are again different legal, organizational and financial determinants of such process and thus requires a large effort initiated by local members, but such help will form an invaluable asset for engineers all around the world. Such help can be realized in a form of regional conferences/workshops with IEEE members and the industry. It is also important to develop a network program to reach M.S. students and post-graduates provide to help them with their choices and to show them IEEE protective attitude.
The specific value proposition for industry and members working in the industry and young professionals.
IEEE has been losing its prominent position in the industry in Regions 1-6 and 7. Moreover, IEEE never built strong relations with industry in two largest Regions – 8 and 10 – due to trying to implement the same solutions and tools, which were practiced in the US but don’t necessary suit to other regions. Our Institute should investigate first how industry collaboration is done by national associations and then find efficient methods to involve industrial partners as IEEE members. Institute should invest more funds and time to attract industrial partners by furthering/developing Distinguished lecture program dedicated to industry, publishing more journals with short papers for practitioners, written and read mainly by people from industry, organizing more activity during conferences related to contact with industry such as industrial sessions, exhibitions, etc, Moreover at flagship societies conferences/symposia job fairs should be organized by definition.
If IEEE would like to be relevant to industry practitioners and Young Professionals, it needs to start listening more carefully to their needs. The first steps have been done – IEEE Industry Engagement Committee has been established and the IEEE Boards support the development of the Young Professionals Business Plan, including organizing bi-annual SYP among IEEE Regions. However, we need to go further applying two approaches: up-bottom where the leaders of IEEE engage the industry leaders and define cooperation models involving whole companies. The second is bottom-up where IEEE develops global programs to support local initiatives engaging IEEE members in the industry. The research also clearly indicates that both current industry members and young professionals would appreciate if IEEE would provide relevant career resources. Such a program would be a tangible membership benefit that IEEE desperately needs to offer and would establish Institute as a source of the most talented engineers for the industry.
Shared governance and its inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
It is the 21st century, the IT companies are able to change their operating models to stay relevant to their partners and customers. Although IEEE is the leading global engineering organization, the governance model has not changed for decades. Firstly, the decision-making process needs to be improved through delegating tasks for swift execution and implementation. The Board members are supposed to make strategic decisions and decide the future of our organization instead of being involved in the implementation or execution of particular projects. Secondly, IEEE needs to reflect better the membership demographics by providing adequate representation. It is especially important for the Regional representatives. Thirdly, we need to involve the younger generation in the decision-making process because soon they will come to replace us and it is our duty to ensure that they are qualified to lead the organization. I would like to emphasize that this might be one of the most revolutionary concepts in the history of IEEE, as we need to make the first steps and concentrate on the in-depth analysis of the various concepts and their implications for the organization. This process would require changes in the constitution but I am certain that our members will welcome our efforts in making IEEE more efficient and more responsive.