The Community for Technology Leaders

Implementing SP7: A Review of Progress in 2012

John W. Walz, IEEE Computer Society 2012 President

Pages: pp. 6-9

Abstract—A review of 2012 activities from the president's perspective reveals significant progress in implementing the Society's strategies and achieving its goals.

In my president's message in Computer's January 2012 issue ("Creating Our Future," pp. 6-7), I provided an overview of the Computer Society's Strategic Plan (SP7), the three-year plan that outlines strategies reflecting the Society's values and core competencies and offers clearly defined measures and targets delineating the various ways volunteers can assist in achieving the Society's strategic objectives.

This year-end message gives me the opportunity to provide a review of our work to date to implement these activities.

2012 Status

To further the work required to implement our strategies and achieve our goals, the Board of Governors adopted a revised agenda format focusing on our key strategies. BoG members are involved with our program boards and our future technologies strategy. Volunteer leaders' new project initiation forms (PIFs) were revised to focus on supporting one strategy or substrategy. Similarly, the Staff Operations Plan (OpPlan) has been realigned to reflect key strategies. The future technologies (FTs) and Special Technical Communities (STCs) strategies have representatives working across two or more program boards.

The three Society presidents—the current president, president elect, and past-president (P3)—are working with other IEEE societies and councils (S/C) to increase membership and emphasize knowledge creation. The increase in memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with other IEEE societies shows a willingness to partner within and outside IEEE, rather than "going it alone."

Some committees are moving away from expensive and infrequent face-to-face meetings to self-managed, social media and Web-based community discussions focused on sharing and collaborative knowledge creation with a high degree of transparency. The Society has supported these efforts by acquiring a license for installation of the Liferay enterprise content management system as well as a license for Google Sites.

Strategic Goals Deployment

The SP7 strategies address four overarching CS objectives:

  • Operate as the premiere professional organization in computing technology. In 2012, we have maintained our position in all measures: periodical subscribers, conference attendees, IP downloads, and IP references/citations.
  • Increase the number of members. Work is in progress to attract higher-grade members and affiliates with paid memberships. Although we may have lost some industry practitioners, we now have more student members as well as more engaged nonmembers from the community.
  • Develop the next generation of volunteer leadership. Work is under way to develop a self-nomination system for all levels of committee positions for our more than 40,000 volunteers.
  • Create a sustainable financial model. Efforts are being made to achieve this objective by reducing costs to the bone, realigning staff, seeking further integration with IEEE staff, and making investments in new products and services.

Major strides were made in 2012 to deploy the SP7 strategies, which encompass five areas: future technologies, knowledge creation, education and professional development, outreach and engagement, and STCs.

Future technologies

Each of our FT teams will use the STC organic, Web-based, organization method to build a working group that includes experts, authors, and knowledge consumers. This structure allows the FT community to work in one or more of our Society's program boards, conferences, publications, standards efforts, professional, and educational opportunities.

P3 appointed the following volunteers, who report to the president, as chairs for specific FT strategies:

  • Irena Bojanova, Cloud Computing (CC). For now, this group focuses on developing Webinars and training courses, and will contribute to the development of the recently approved Cloud Magazine, set to launch in 2014. It has also has been canvassing authors to solicit submissions for the new Transactions on Cloud Computing.
  • Roger Fujii, Smart Grid (SG). The smart grid vision (SGV) project, led by Dan McCaugherty and Steve Widergren, is creating an SG technology vision document to guide future Society SG conferences and standards.
  • Xue-Wen Chen, Life Science (LS). I'm currently working with Chen and IEEE's new initiative team to increase the value of all assets under the IEEE brand. The One IEEE initiative includes a Web portal, a newsletter, a LinkedIn group, and an annual IEEE Grand Challenges conference.
  • Hironori Kasahara, Multicore. Plans are under way for developing a Society-sponsored 2014 conference of worldwide multi-core experts supported by an active STC.

FT program manager Jennifer Schopf, who works out of the Society's Washington, DC, offices, was hired to support the FT chairs. In her role, Jennifer supports the FT volunteer team by helping to articulate requirements for staff resources and providing recommendations for opportunities to engage our members and the FT community. She ensures that the CC, SG, and LS FTs are aligned with related IEEE new initiatives to avoid duplication and share funding for new activities such as SGV.

Knowledge creation

Activities for this strategy include attracting authors through both IEEE top-down initiatives and the Society's bottom-up STCs.

As a first step, IEEE surveys of periodical and conference authors will facilitate developing better policies and procedures to help promote high-quality knowledge creation.

In addition, the Society is communicating with authors interested in contributing open access (OA) author-pays submissions to our first OA journal, IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing (TETC).

Other activities include helping OA authors connect with Society periodicals and informing periodicals editors and reviewers about the increasing demand for an OA option from potential authors.

In addition to Cloud Magazine and TETC, the CS Publications Board has recommended several other new periodicals this year for IEEE approval

Computing Now editor in chief Dejan Milojičić has been working with his team to build up the CS portal with more content and enhancements to attract viewers.

Paul Croll's Technical and Conference Activities Board is working with IEEE committees to improve guidelines and develop controls to ensure the submission and publication of high-quality conference papers.

Education and professional development

Every FT needs training courseware, and Don Shafer's CC education group has taken the first step to meet this need by deploying CC training at IEEE Metro Area Workshops this year.

Chuck Walrad's IT Professional Activities committee selected the SFIA Foundation for IT Competency Model, which will drive our educational courseware and future certification scheme.

Dick Fairley's team has completed a review of the Body of Knowledge and Curriculum to Advance Systems Engineering (BKCASE), creating the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK), v.1, which will drive new courseware. They will finish the Graduate Reference Curriculum for Systems Engineering (GRCSE) in 2013 so that qualified universities can use it to upgrade their systems engineering curriculum.

Phillip A. Laplante's Software Engineering Licensure Exam committee completed questions sets for professional software engineering licensure in the US that starts in 2013.

The joint Project Management Institute (PMI) and IEEE CS committee finished the draft software extension to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, with Dick Fairley representing the CS in this effort, which will help in preparing our upcoming software project management courses.

Liz Burd's went live this fall to encourage precollege students and their parents to consider computing careers and to provide information about the high school preparation that colleges are expecting. Through, teachers can share lesson plans to assist them in teaching essential computing skills, and counselors can keep up with computing technology to help students make informed choices.

Outreach and engagement

To support its outreach and engagement goal, the Society will use the STC model to gather and organize potential members such as public policy experts, joint members of our national sister societies such as the Computer Society of India, and our members interested in groups such as the IEEE Nanotechnology Council. The STCs will identify interested members and recruit them to serve in leadership roles in the community.


Martin Arlitt and Ishfaq Ahmad are cochairs of the STC on Sustainable Computing, our largest grassroots STC, with more than 300 members, including 137 on LinkedIn and 15 ExCom leaders. This STC has published 10 newsletters this year.

Carlos Jiménez began the work on the new e-Government (eGov) STC, and under his leadership, this STC is now organizing interested parties across IEEE, using a LinkedIn group for IEEE members only.

Stakeholder Communications

The Society has numerous stakeholders: paid memberships, volunteers, authors, reviewers, conference attendees, subscribers, and partners such as libraries.

As president, I have visited more than a dozen of our key conferences along with CS chapters at the conference venues. Discussions with conference stakeholders, including sponsors, TC leaders, organizers, keynote speakers, program board experts, authors, and attendees have showcased the importance of the dynamic knowledge creation process supported by our conferences. In several conferences, the colocated periodical editorial board meeting revealed established authors who publish in both the conference proceedings and a related periodical. Thus, conference program committees should consider working with periodical editorial boards in the same technical domain.

Going forward, the Society and IEEE need to allow the organizers to be agile in managing the creation, growth, merger, splitting off/pruning, and sun-setting of conferences. Program committees need an infrastructure to attract submissions from new and established authors to ensure timely, high-quality, and relevant submissions and published papers from their technical community.

These sample conference visits showcased some technologies of particular relevance to the Society, including software engineering, visualization and graphics, and computer engineering encompassing computer architectures, microprocessors, VLSI design and test technologies, parallel and distributed processing, and dependable and fault-tolerance computing. Some of these technologies are ready for standards development activities with strong industry support.

During this year, I have recorded video blogs on specific topics, using social media to reach our large community. I have enjoyed these opportunities to refocus and articulate my goals to a large, general, and unknown audience. I have found this media fits well between the short elevator conversation and an introductory speech to a body with a common interest. I have often reused sections of a video blog at subsequent face-to-face meetings for validation of our goals and activities.

At the IEEE level, I served as cochair of an ad hoc committee focused on increasing IEEE attractiveness to industry practitioners. Our work helped define the problem of the declining membership of industry practitioners, shared best practices for the turnaround of membership in technical societies, and identified possible IEEE operational changes needed to support the various societies that comprise the IEEE.

Engaging Our Volunteer Resources

A rough census conducted this year revealed that there are more than 40,000 Computer Society volunteers. To better use this wealth of talent, one presidential initiative is to recruit and promote volunteers based on their interests. Developing this initiative, which will take a couple of years with P3 support, starts with communications, such as the recent election video blog, a bottom-up self-nomination Web form, and top-down Executive Committee calls for candidates for CS committee officers. In addition, we need to create an administrative workflow to help volunteer leaders make appointments, followed by volunteer directory publication, volunteer satisfaction surveys, and volunteer recognition.

Because our technical community is larger than our paid memberships, new efforts, processes, and benefit packages were designed and deployed for the retention and recruiting of full members and affiliates. In moving our members from transactional usage to becoming engaged contributors to the organization, the enrollment process now helps connect them so they can join one of our more than 30 TCs. I offer my personal thanks to David Alan Grier, who assisted in these efforts in his role as chair of the membership working group.

As one-half of our members are industry practitioners, we are getting excellent product and services feedback and strategy recommendations from our Industry Advisory Board. This board was instrumental in coaching the developers of our Corporate Affiliate Program (CAP), which provides high-quality, affordable educational training to corporations.

To better engage and utilize our external worldwide Sister Society partners, past-president Sorel Reisman redesigned our application and MOU forms, which have been used in successful trial implementations with the Computer Society of India and China Computer Federation.

In recognition of the portion of our members with interests in technical public policy, we are organizing our experts in this area into an STC to work with the IEEE Government Relations Council, through our appointment of Jim Moore, who will request input on technical white papers for distribution to congressional members, their staff, and our key Washington allies.

To address all aspects of our numerous fields of interest, we are now focusing the Computing Now (CN) portal content on six hot technical areas: cloud computing, high-performance computing, mobile computing, networking, security, and software engineering. Our annual member survey revealed that most of our members work in four broad technical areas, for which we will be producing individual technical newsletters: software, information and communication technologies, security and privacy, and computer engineering.

Continuity with Past Presidents' Initiatives

The advantage of the P3 structure is that it facilitates the conservation and sharing of organization knowledge over time so that the CS leadership has a better understanding of what works and what doesn't. As this review of the work we have undertaken in 2012 indicates, implementation of 2011 president Sorel Reisman's SP7 is ongoing, and efforts to support the concepts introduced last year are continuing this year.

In addition, 2010 president Jim Isaak is serving as chair of the International Public Policy community; 2009 president Susan (Kathy) Land is working on broad IEEE and TAB issues that affect our Society; 2008 president Rangakar Kasturi helped move the affiliate membership dues issue to a financial conclusion; 2004 president Carl K. Chang has upgraded COMPSAC to be the Society's flagship conference, with past Society presidents serving as general cochairs; and 2003 president Steve Diamond is leading the IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative, in which our Society is the strongest player.

Thanks to the 2012 Team

In addition to past-president Sorel Reisman and president-elect David Alan Grier, the 2012 Executive Committee (ExCom) included seven vice presidents: Tom Conte, first VP (and VP of publications); André Ivanov, second VP (and BoG secretary); Liz Burd, VP of educational activities; Paul Croll, VP of technical and conference activities; Paul Joannou, VP of professional activities; Sattupathu Sankaran, VP of member and geographic activities; Charlene (Chuck) Walrad, VP of standards activities; and Jim Moore, treasurer, who also serves as Division V Director. Nonvoting ExCom members include Kathy Land, Division VIII Director; Roger Fujii, Division VIII Director-Elect; and Angela Burgess, the Society's executive director.

Each of the six program boards has made outstanding progress this year on board-specific and cross-Society projects. At the four ExCom meetings, each program board VP reported on future planning, work with staff on funding requests, progress on various projects, deliverables, gaps addressed, and issues resolved.

A special thanks goes to Sankaran, who has rendered significant service to the Society with excellence and dedication in his numerous contributions during his tenure in the membership area.

The volunteer-staff partnership serves as the foundation for all of our efforts within the Society. I extend my appreciation to all who have worked together this year to shape the future of our organization.

As I conclude my term as the Society's 2012 president, I extend my sincere congratulations to president-elect David Alan Grier. I look forward to working with him and his ExCom while serving as a member of P3 in 2013.

About the Authors

John W. Walz retired from Lucent/AT&T with more than 25 years of software and systems engineering and management leadership experience. Contact him at
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