As your newly elected Treasurer, I’m very glad to be writing this month’s Message from SHARE for you. When I first got involved with SHARE — some 25 or so years ago — it never occurred to me that I would eventually run for the Board of Directors or serve as an officer for this organization, but here we are. I am honored to have been elected to this position and proud to be working with this team to serve SHARE.
SHARE has had to overcome a number of challenges and difficulties over the past decade, but through concerted efforts by the past few leadership teams, the organization has moved into a stronger financial position. Some examples of these actions are:
- Transitioning the organization from a corporation to a non-profit (SHARE Inc. to SHARE Association),
- Eliminating processes, programs and investments that had run their course or weren’t working (e.g., SHARE Live, ExecuForum),
- Consolidating to a single publication (SHARE’d Intelligence),
- Better tracking and use of staff resources,
- Reducing travel expenses by taking advantage of virtual options for meetings.
We were especially lucky to sneak in one of the last in-person conferences, SHARE Fort Worth, before the 2020 lockdowns occurred. That being said, the work to keep SHARE relevant and financially secure must continue in earnest and we are looking to continue that work as we head into 2021.
As unfortunate as it sounds, the phrase “never let a crisis go to waste” rings in my ears as I ease into the Treasurer role. The global pandemic put the kibosh on SHARE Boston this summer and now SHARE Anaheim next year. Even as cities and regions begin to nervously reopen around the country (and globally), we have to consider what the lingering impacts might be on business travel through at least the end of next year. While there will likely be progress toward a cure or preventive measures, how many businesses and people will be willing to accept the heightened risk of travel? What additional costs will conferences have to incur to reduce the risk of infection among attendees? At what point does the risk and increased cost make it economically (and socially) irresponsible to hold an in-person conference? These are among the questions that the new SHARE Board of Directors is already wrestling with.
SHARE has been around for 65 years, delivering on our core mission of providing education, enabling professional networking, and influencing the enterprise IT industry. Over those decades, the challenges faced by our members and partners have changed as needs and technologies have advanced. As an organization, SHARE has had to step up to meet these changing challenges. Today, the changing landscape of IT, the changing demographics of our participants, and the new societal challenges posed by the global pandemic mean that SHARE must adapt to these conditions to continue to provide value for our members.
Some of these challenges have been “a long time coming” and have gone from back-burner issues to urgent issues that need to be addressed in the very short term. I think we’ve all run into the situation of “Gee, I wish so-and-so back home was here to help with this topic…”, or “We have a team in some far-off country responsible for that…”, or “I wish I could’ve caught up with that person so I could ask them a burning question...”. It is imperative that we “bring SHARE to the cloud” (if you like that terminology), using new tools and capabilities to help address these needs in the coming months.
In my previous role as Director of Industry Influence, I was working with Julie Ferry and Brystol Koch from the SHARE staff team on an initiative we termed “year-round education.” The driving force behind this initiative was to bring as much of the SHARE experience that occurs during the two, week-long conferences as technology will support, allowing SHARE to deliver on its mission of providing education, professional networking, and industry influence 24/7/365 — not just during the two weeks that the conference is held.
Under the Educate pillar:
For many reasons, our members cannot always enable delegates to come to a SHARE conference and some can only come to one or the other semi-annual meetings. However, continued education remains a key need for almost all of our members. While the proceedings have been made available online for some time now, there is a lot of content and context lost when the presenter is removed from the equation. We are looking at various ways to extend our educational offerings beyond the face-to-face meetings and webcasts so that the content is available on-demand, whenever needed.
Under the Networking pillar:
While a face-to-face conference represents a great opportunity to meet and share with industry experts and peers across the wide membership of SHARE, there are many members “back at the ranch” who would benefit tremendously by having a conduit back to the experts working for our partners and other members. Besides, all questions don’t come up just during the two weeks that the SHARE conference is going on. By creating a platform that allows our members to network at any time, whether it’s questions on presentations or the ability to seek out and find others with similar needs, SHARE can and will facilitate this kind of ‘beyond the conference’ networking.
Under the Industry Influence pillar:
Again, larger issues don’t only come up during conference weeks. SHARE should support and enable our members to get together in an impromptu and virtual manner to define and discuss issues, formulate requirements, and work in concert with our partners to address issues. Having a digital platform to enable a Birds of a Feather session at any time during the year, with supporting tools for managing meeting content and actions, is just one way that SHARE can help. By enabling more of our members to participate, we’ll increase the reach of SHARE’s influence on the members and partners in the community.
COVID-19 has been quite the bowl of lemons. Year-round digital SHARE is the lemonade. If you’d like to discuss these issues or are interested in helping make this happen, please let me know.