News & Press: InSider

On the "Road to Relevance"

Tuesday, September 03, 2013  

As I thought about what to emphasize in my first communication as President, I reviewed the election platform I drafted when running for this office. My platform statement began with the idea that "AIS is at a financial and strategic crossroads”. After the Council meeting recently concluded in June, I would like to add that the association has begun to take both small and large steps to keep us on the "Road to Relevance”, which happens to be the title of an association management book that may just become my Bible in the remaining time I hold this position!    

The AIS’s Road to Relevance will be charted through:  

  1. Focusing on our key member constituencies. We are Information Systems academics. And we are doctoral students, IS faculty, educators, researchers, and student chapter members, with a few professionals and retirees sprinkled in there too. We are also global. We need to be very aware of the wide-ranging needs of members across all three regions, each of our geographic chapters, and the many SIGs, conference attendees and affiliates we have joined up with over the years. Some of the many new initiatives we have instituted to reach across our regions include the multi-journal author workshop we hosted at PACIS in Korea (led by Eldon Li, Region 3 Representative), the women’s reception held at ECIS in the Netherlands (hosted by Cathy Urquhart of Manchester Metropolitan University and Jason Thatcher, Vice President of Member Services), and the IS Job Index AIS is developing in concert with  Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
  2. Understanding what we need to do well. What do we do better than those groups or entities that provide similar or competing products and services? Members are increasingly pressed to join fewer associations and attend fewer conferences than in our academic glory days. We need AIS to be the most relevant, and be so for most of our members. Our SIGs and chapters are a key reason many of you are members, and we want to be able to support our key member groups to make each one a success. The recent multi-association survey you may have filled out will help us to identify our current and desired strengths. In September we will be launching the AIS Member Needs Assessment which is your opportunity to tell us what you value about AIS and what needs you have for the future.  Please be on the lookout for that survey and take a few minutes to complete it. 
  3. Identifying and making hard decisions about those products and services that divert us off our Road. We are instituting regular reviews of our initiatives and decisions so that we can retain our focus on mission-critical goals of the association and its members. This will be painful initially, but is necessary in order to strengthen the association.
  4. Developing revenue streams. We need to move beyond relying on conference surpluses and conference-linked membership renewals. Our recent membership fee increase helped address this somewhat, but the bulk of our revenue still comes from AMCIS and ICIS each year. We are exploring ways to augment these two major pools of revenue so that we can continue to provide – and to expand upon – our member benefits without continuing to increase the cost of membership or conference attendance to members.
  5. Practicing what we preach! While we are not quite as bad as the shoemaker’s children who have no shoes, we are badly in need of an overhaul of some of our systems and technology products. Dick Welke, our new Vice President of Technology, has hit the ground running by immediately pulling together an inventory of our many systems and services, and we are moving quickly to address some of our biggest needs, such as replacing the current conference review system and transitioning to new ways to communicate with members. We are also working closely with our systems staff to improve the functionality of our association management system and web site.
  6. Increasing participation by IS academics, students and professionals. We are taking several steps to attract new academic members, help members attract new students, and help students succeed in the workforce. As one example, even though women make up half of the world’s population, they (or we! I should say) remain a relatively small percent of AIS members, IS faculty, IS students, and IS professionals. In 2012, AIS became an Academic Alliance member of the National Center for Women and Information Technology whose mission is to increase women’s success in the computing professions. I have just appointed a task force on Women in IS (co-chaired by Lakshmi Iyer of University of North Carolina, Greensboro and Sweta Sneha, Kennesaw State University) to facilitate AIS’ relationship with NCWIT, and to think more broadly about how AIS can improve our understanding of and work with our diverse populations globally. If you have input for the task group please contact the co-chairs.   

My main objective as President is to ensure the attractiveness and viability of AIS for both new and longstanding members. Please join me and Council as we steer AIS down our Road to Relevance.  

I hope to see you all in Milano in December!

Jane Fedorowicz
AIS President
Bentley University

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