Why do people join and remain members of IEEE? The most common reasons are to stay current technically and to get access to IEEE’s well-regarded and highly cited publications. That’s according to recently released results from the IEEE Member Segmentation Survey, conducted every four years to gauge members’ satisfaction with IEEE’s products and services.
Almost 8000 members and student members responded to the online survey, conducted in October and November 2011. The results were released this January. The survey asks members to rate the importance of and their satisfaction with IEEE’s offerings, such as online career resources, continuing-education programs, professional networking opportunities, and discounts on products and services. It also asks about other aspects of membership, including information about members’ careers and educational backgrounds.
WHAT YOU VALUE
How satisfied are members with IEEE, and which benefits matter the most?
About two-thirds of all respondents say they are very or somewhat satisfied with IEEE, a level that’s almost identical to that defined by the results of the 2008 survey.
The top five “most valued” and “highly rated” IEEE benefits are its online publications; conferences; printed transactions, journals, and magazines; printed books; and member discounts.
Areas of high importance to members but in which they rated their satisfaction lower are professional networking, continuing education, and career resources.
Students had a similar list but added that they’d like more awards and scholarship opportunities, the chance to get involved with humanitarian projects, and videos of conference highlights.
All respondents were asked to rate IEEE’s services from a list, but they could also write in their own responses.
After analyzing the results, IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA) chose five areas to focus on: access to publications, career tools, professional networks, continuing-education programs, and member discounts.
“These areas of concern continue to be of high importance to members since the last survey,” says Jamie Moesch, senior director of member experience in IEEE MGA, in Piscataway, N.J., the group that oversaw the survey. “This time around, we will work to improve our focus and begin working towards a world-class satisfaction level in these most important areas.” IEEE has already made strides since the 2008 survey results, Moesch adds, particularly in improving its career tools, continuing-education programs, and access to publications.
Recently, IEEE-USA has been offering all members free access to an e-book each month on career-related topics such as launching a start-up, polishing writing skills, and finding a job. And IEEE is dedicating increased staff attention to improving its career products and services globally.
IEEE is also working to help members network with each other. It recently began setting up members-only areas at some conferences where members can gather before and after presentations. MemberNet, IEEE’s online community, was also recently enhanced to make it a more effective tool for networking with other members. And if an in-person IEEE section meeting is not possible, volunteers can now hold meetings via WebEx, an online conference tool that is free for section volunteers.
Several changes have been made to the continuing-education offerings, with more on the way. The website that houses IEEE’s collection of online courses was overhauled last year. The IEEE eLearning Library (formerly known as IEEE Expert Now), now includes more than 200 courses and webinars from universities, training organizations, and IEEE units, in addition to tutorials from IEEE workshops and conferences.
As for the students’ request for more videos from IEEE conferences, they’re already available on IEEE.tv, which has been airing highlights of events for the past few years.
Although members say they are happy with access to IEEE publications, the organization continues to look for ways to improve. For example, since the last survey, IEEE has rolled out a large collection of free e-books, called IEEE eBook Classics, with more being added each year.
A less expensive option for members’ IEEE Xplore subscriptions was unveiled in 2010. The Member Digital Library Basic plan offers three full-text article downloads for US $15 per month. Many more enhancements are in the works, Moesch says.
ALL ABOUT YOU
To better understand IEEE’s membership, the study asked about members’ technical interests, careers, education levels, ages, and more.
Some 45 percent of respondents say they are involved with computing and processing. Other top technical areas include math; communications, networking, and broadcasting; power; and robotics and control systems. As for employment, 44 percent work in private industry, 24 percent at educational institutions, and 11 percent in government. The remainder work for nonprofits or are self-employed, retired, unemployed, or full-time students.
A majority of the respondents (69 percent) have degrees in electrical or electronics engineering. Almost two-thirds hold a degree or an additional degree in areas like computer science, computer engineering, physics, information technology, or business.
Almost half of the survey respondents are 50 or older, and 36 percent are 35 to 49. Women total about 10 percent of respondents, a number that has remained relatively stable among IEEE members over the years.
About two-thirds of respondents say IEEE plays a very important role in their professional lives but that work or personal demands prevent them from being more actively involved.
About a third of members and 60 percent of students say they expect to be more involved with IEEE in the future. This is especially true of young professional members, including Graduates of the Last Decade. They look to IEEE to help them engage in their profession but want a simpler and more welcoming experience, both online and from their local sections and chapters.
“IEEE will continue to use information from studies like these to create a more welcoming place for members to find world-class satisfaction with their professional association,” Moesch says.