As you read this, we will be well into a strategic planning effort here at
NDIA. This effort is led by an ad-hoc committee of our board of directors, who
are taking time from their busy schedules to provide us advice on the future.
One area we will focus on is the direction the association will take during
the next three to five years. Now, that may hit some of you as an unduly short-term
horizon, but considering the rapidity with which the defense community and our
society change, it is truly long-range planning. Concurrently, we have kicked
off a formal member survey (to which, if queried, I hope you'll respond to)
which will elicit your thoughts on our activities as well as our performance.
We sincerely want to know what you want and need from the association. We are
looking for input from both our individual as well as corporate members.
On the issue of NDIA's future, one thing we will be looking at closely will
be the impact on the association of continuing changes in the defense industry.
When we get down to basics, remember that our fundamental reason for being is
to ensure a viable, responsive defense industrial base. As mentioned in this
column last month, more than 20,000 companies have left the defense supplier
community. Further, we've gone through one cycle of consolidations ending up
with a handful of mega companies. If rumors prove correct, we're about to enter
another cycle of consolidations at the second and lower tiers of producers.
What does this mean to the association? Will it adversely effect our membership?
Or the supply of our volunteer members--who are the heart and soul of our important
committee and division structure? What about attendance at the conferences,
which is one of our primary means of communicating and networking? How should
we change our activities to reflect these impending changes in our industrial
Another big area for assessment is the continuing explosion of technology and
its impact on the association. For instance, how will the continuing growth
of the Internet affect NDIA? An interesting prediction by the founder of PSINet
is that "... 80 percent of commerce from business to business and business
to consumers in four years is totally dependent on the Internet, either in the
pre-sales marketing cycle, the actual selling and transaction support, or the
post-transaction customer interaction..." That seems an incredible prediction--but
reflect back on the changes since 1996 and it becomes less incredible.
But if only half of that prediction is accurate, what does that mean for NDIA?
We're already taking advantage of the web, with more than 10 percent of our
registrations online. During a recent month, our web page had 120,000 user sessions,
which was a nearly 30 percent increase from the previous month. We have two
full-time staff members dedicated to the 13 web pages maintained by the association.
However, there are other important questions to be answered. Will streaming
video or some similar technology dramatically impact our conferences? There
already are conferences being conducted on the web, for instance, look at www.tvontheweb.com
So, while your association is in really fine shape as we enter the new millennium,
we also are working to ensure that we remain a strong, viable, forward-looking
organization. Any thoughts you have on any of the above areas, or other areas
at which we should look, please let me know via e-mail (email@example.com),
fax (703) 522-4601 or regular mail.