After 4 years of being in the chairman's role at SIBA and almost 8 years on the executive committee, I am overall satisfied at the progress we have collectively made.
Many things have changed in that period including the fact that (for 2 main reasons) I am no longer the youngest member of the executive.
We have made significant progress in some key areas including continuing to be voice of the spatial industry but from a stronger position with a larger member base of almost 30 organisations.
We have also contributed positively to the business success of our members as well as to overall sector growth, especially in some new and emerging domains.
SIBA recognized that growth was not possible without access to skilled people and we successfully removed a key barrier to skills through having spatial and GIS added to Immigration NZ's Long Term Skills Shortage List - something that I know many members and others continue to benefit from.
Another big area has been outreach to members and others - especially through events such as breakfasts and meet-ups which, through lots of hard work from Anne and others, we have used to take our key messages out to wider and increasingly new audience.
We have actively fostered closer collaboration with the wider community (however that is defined) with MOUs signed with NZ Tech, ESP and NZIS and with ongoing work with SIBA Australia and with the underlying philosophy that these connections need to be actively used to be of value.
From a process point of view we now make use of a number of web based SaaS systems for CMS, CRM, Email, and Document Management.
However, as with many things, there remain several areas where we as an industry and SIBA as an organisation still have work to do.
One of these areas is Identity: both SIBA and the spatial industry as a whole have done some reviewing of where we sit relative to other groups and communities and the idea that "spatial is special" can be increasingly challenged when considered alongside disciplines such as BIM, IoT, Big Data, Augmented Reality, SIM or Gaming. I do believe that we do have a unique value proposition to both our members and the wider industry but that we should find the right level of independence and collaboration with other communities and groups who offer ideas and business opportunities outside of our own.
I mentioned that we have made progress in addressing a shortage of spatial skills: that we have eased the importing of such talent. However we still do not seem to have kept pace with the growing demand and the "grow your own" approach to skills is challenging: despite the excellent work taken on by Bryan working alongside people like Geoff O'Malley at LINZ- we have not yet succeeded in really fostering as strong a relationship between tertiary education and industry as we would perhaps like.
SIBA as an organisation takes an enormous amount of hard work for the committee and wider network of supporters. Events, recruitment and membership, administration, finances, communications, awards - all of these take us forward to our collective goal of growing the reach of spatial - growing the pie - but my feeling is that we currently spend a disproportionate amount effort on this - focusing on the vital breath in - breath out but missing out on the higher level functions that we need to achieve success.
This is based upon the fact that the level of success which can be attained on a purely volunteer basis is limited (even with the paid secretarial services of our support team at ONZL) and I personally believe that we are currently in that twilight zone between amateur and professional from which we need to jump. That jump can be made either through membership growth to the point that we can engage dedicated (part time) resources or through closer ties to other organisations or perhaps by combination of both. To me this is possibly our biggest challenge and the one which I know personally have found most frustrating. Financially we are in very good shape however any reserves that we have would not support even part time staff for any length of time without the associated growth in memberships - but we are close so this will possibly be the key challenge and opportunity for the incoming executive.
I believe that some other key challenges that SIBA will face going forward include, striking a balance between value to members and reaching out to new members or sectors; realising opportunities which have suffered due lack of resources (e.g. leveraging NZ R&D funding for members) and learning how to actually use our numerous web based SaaS systems.
I do have the sense that we are at a critical point of balance where we need to look at becoming a different scale of organisation.
My own view is that collaboration is key in a small country and a relatively complex market and to this end I want to offer my assistance to the SIBA board and members to liaise and connect with other key stakeholders.
I want to finish with a very big thank you to all of the committee who I have worked with over the last 4 years as chair and for those in the wider supporting network who put in their hard work and energy to support bringing spatial to wider audience and to helping fulfil the spatial dividend for NZ inc that we all know is there.
Finally, I wish all the very best to the incoming chair and committee - who I know will bring great deal of energy, ideas and also their own experiences to take SIBA forward over the next period.