IEEE VP Technical Activities (elect, 2014 candidate)

IEEE's vision, in part, says: “be essential to the global technical community and to technical professionals everywhere, and be universally recognized...”. TAB is the lead in IEEE responsible for technical activities. 

The TAB Mission Statement is to foster technological innovation and progress by advancing the 
technical activities of the IEEE for the benefit of the profession and humanity worldwide, and to 
represent the interests of Societies and Technical Councils within the IEEE.
The Technical Activities Board stimulates, promotes, facilitates and supports a global volunteer 
organization of innovative and agile technical communities. Uses the best technologies to attract, 
access, and disseminate technical information, which leads to...IEEE Technical Activities, which 
provides the first place people go for the highest quality technical information in the areas of 
interest to the IEEE, acceleration and nurturing of innovation and the technical professional's 
lifelong network of choice.

The Challenges:
  1. Attracting emerging fields and new professionals to IEEE as the best home for professional dialog in these areas
    1. TAB has 37 societies, 7 councils and 2 technical committees --- addressing all fields of electrical engineering, communications and computing. As new fields emerge, few flower in IEEE, and because of the overhead for managing new fields, new societies are almost inconceivable IEEE needs to be more effective in pursuing it's "essential and recognized" vision; and TAB needs to support this by embracing new fields, related professionals and providing the support, services and environment in which they flourish.

  2. Building visibility and participation in the related activities (societies, chapters, conferences, publications, online communities)
    1. Professionals must find being a member, or better, being a participant in IEEE's societies to be of high value. 
    2. Part of this is TAB 3.0 -- fully leveraging the online environments that professionals find of value. Online communities, information exchanges, publications, conferencing, collaboration, and the things that follow. If IEEE cannot support our fields in the online world, we will not be "essential to the global technical community".

  3. IEEE has overhead expenses that have been difficult allocate within the organization. As of 2014, a new model will be in operation that eliminates some of the problems faced in technical activities.  This area will need to be monitored closely to assure that we have the right financial incentives to grow and thrive, and also to hold down the overhead expenses to assure ongoing viability of IEEE.

  4. TAB is spending much of it's efforts addressing financially driven considerations both directly, and indirectly ... with turf concerns in part driven by getting 'a piece of the action'. 
    1. The #1 place where TAB can change is in the way financial management occurs.  Currently TAB entities are measured on a P&L basis (in IEEE we pronounce that Surplus and Loss) --- which drives problematic decisions and behaviors. 
    2. We need TAB asking "how can we help you succeed?" with respect to existing and emerging technical activities rather than focusing on "who owns it?" and "what's in it for our society?" etc.
The steps I recommend, and will pursue as VP TAB are:
  1. Agressively promote Society engagement as a key for innovation
    Engineers & Technologists Innovate and solve problems => Innovation creates jobs and economic growth
    Innovation requires exposure to new ideas & diverse perspectives -- something that IEEE provides for engaged members
    IEEE must become effective at promoting it's image and capabilities to corporations, professionals and even the public on a global basis. TAB is the technical focal point in IEEE, and is the viable source for a credible technical presence. If we can accomplish this, and professionals world wide value what IEEE offers, we will have membership growth, conference growth (both in numbers and attendance), more papers and more publications, new fields and new forums. Visible public value of IEEE can help stem annual loss of members as well.

  2. Implement 'flash communities', a concept I've advocated for over a decade in the Computer Society, so new dialog can start immediately within IEEE and evolve into whatever forums and formats will serve these communities effectively. (Other online media channels need to be embraced as well.) - Technical Activities 3.0 starts online with minimal red tape.  I have proposed a potentially patent-able method for IEEE to establish a differential advantage in this area and will assign my rights to IEEE if we determine to pursue that.

  3. Leverage our community of experienced leaders to support emerging technologies, conferences, publications and investing in growth. We have many good, ex-leaders that can bring experience and mentoring to help get new efforts of the ground.  We need channels to engage these folks.

  4. TAB needs to continue evolving it's governance structure until it finds a way to expand our fields without exploding the management overhead -- we need 100+ society like activities with the autonomy to pursue their given fields, and a handful of volunteer leaders supporting them from the management level -- the MGA (Membership & Geographical Activities )  folks have found a way towards this with 100's of sections, and the ability to form new ones when needed -- and a dozen folks on the MGA Board providing volunteer leadership (compare to ~60 voting members of TAB, and more added with each new field.)  Instant Community - virtual societies, virtual councils, as well as other communities can help here.

  5. Assure simple and transparent financial interactions of IEEE  for volunteers, and also to
    provide incentives that align with the objectives of growing IEEE's value to professionals and the world.

  6. Drive to reduce the expenses that are putting the pressure on society growth and collaboration. This includes
    1. transparency on costs and allocations, along with accountability for these
    2. push for expansion of alternative income sources -- I have been an advocate of technically valuable paid information supply (fancy words for relevant advertising) as an income opportunity.  Corporate webinars, white-papers and other informative content are examples.
The heart of IEEE is technical professionals ... TAB is the focal point for their global dialog ... we must embrace these challenges and take a high visibility leadership role for professionals world wide, or we will find our Wikipedia pages expressed in the past tense.

“The opinions expressed on this website are the opinions of the author and not necessarily the opinions of the IEEE.”  In case you didn't realize this.