Wow, so this is a pretty wide ranging conversation, and despite the rather disappointing (for us) question that started it off there’s some interesting discussion here. For full disclosure I’m the Customer Experience Manager at BCS, and as part of my role I’m responsible for the products and services on offer to members. So obviously this conversation is of direct interest to me.

There has been a lot covered here so I’ll try to add some value in chunks: products & services; networking; societal impact.

In terms of the direct benefits you receive as part of your membership through the Secure Area, a selection of them are:

  • Personal development plan (PDP) - an online tool to manage your personal development, something you can take with you and doesn’t belong to your organisation
  • Career Mentoring Network (CMN) - an online intro service that helps mentors find mentee and vice versa, mentoring is really fulfilling for both parties
  • ITNow - quarterly magazine (online and paper copies available) that covers the latest thinking and comment

There are also over 700 events run by the volunteers groups in the branches and specialist groups, covering the whole of the UK. The range and scope of these events is genuinely amazing, and they’re all run by you, the members, and funded by you. If you haven’t seen anything you like then get in contact with the committee. I note there’s another thread about online meetings which is something that I’m keen to support groups with more, but it’s ultimately up to those groups whether or not they want to (or are able to) make meetings available online. For now a selection are available on the Member Groups YouTube channel

One thing that’s been mentioned is the relevance of BCS, well some of the companies that work with us in one capacity or another are: Google, Microsoft, Waitrose, Specsavers, Post Office, HMRC, and plenty of others. We’re involved in wide ranging conversations with various government departments about improving their IT skills, as well as discussing important policy matters with the people in a position to do something about it. At the party conferences in October we were sat on the same panel as influential figures like Diane Abbott MP, Jo Churchill MP and Chi Onwurah MP discussing important topics like data in health. One point I would make is that one of the most powerful ways to increase the relevance of BCS is for us all to start using our post nominals, and instead of seeing them as irrelevant, be proud of them, discuss them, point them out to potential employers. 70,000+ people all using them and talking about them is an incredibly powerful way of increasing the visibility and understanding of BCS and why you’re members.

There’s also the work we’re doing to make a societal impact, manifested through the BCS challenges that are aiming to positively affect society and help to improve awareness of certain topics. And also to generate conversation amongst our community (and wider) on the things that area really important to the world today. We’ve talked a lot about the changes to the education curriculum that Computing At Schools (CAS) and BCS Academy have led the way on - but they’re important and we shouldn’t forget the ongoing progress in that space. There are challenges focusing on health, personal data, and capability as well and there are a multitude of conversations and activities happening to drive these forward. Again, these are all things that you should be involved in if you want to be.

I know this will engender some discussion about making IT good for society and the rights and wrongs of that as a purpose. Well I’ll be clear, the Royal Charter does say that but in a more wordy way. (Copied and pasted from the Royal Charter: “The objects for which the Society is hereby constituted shall be to promote the study and practice of Computing and to advance knowledge and education therein for the benefit of the public.”) Part of how we’ll achieve this is to help people in IT / digital / computing / technology / whatever your industry to be more professional. To provide the tools and advice to support you in your daily lives. If we’re not doing this then help me understand how we can do better. We are talking more than ever to you, and always trying to improve services. In January you’ll see some new things from us that I can share more information on after Christmas.

Honestly though, this just scratches the surface of the work that is happening and that members are an integral part of. I see lots of discussion here about what people don’t get but I’d like to know what people want or expect from their membership?

About the author

Max Mazonowicz is Customer Experience Manager at BCS. His role is to ensure that members get the best possible experience.