Monday, September 25, 2006

Twenty years of the Jordan Computer Society (JCS)

In 1986, when home computing in Jordan was just getting started, and business computing meant a large investment only made by big banks and organizations; the Jordan Computer Society (JCS) was established by a limited number of 'computing professionals'.

It was the first such society in the Middle East, and was founded to develop the IT profession.

Twenty years on have been many bright points in the society's history, but the one that stands out the most is how it formed the basis of the public-private sector partnership in IT development that has now manifested itself in various bodies such as the new Ministry of Information & Communication Technology, the Jordan Information Technology Association (int@j), and several IT initiatives like REACH.

Over the years, and especially since the rise of int@j, there has been some debate on the role of the Jordan Computer Society and how it has been somewhat limited to catering to the needs of professionals, rather than companies as a whole, and focusing on education and awareness to the public instead of taking up pre-set and well-funded initiatives.

In spite of what may be said, JCS has done well to survive and maintain a loyal and growing membership base.

Another of its lasting legacies is the IT show it started in 1989, which has evolved into the Middle East Technology Show (METS).

In a commemorative event this week, it felt like a reunion of people who were in computing and IT two decades ago, back when the industry was not taken seriously compared to the traditional economic sectors of construction, real estate, manufacturing and others. How things have changed!

The current JCS President, Hisham Qattan, said that the society has learned from its past achievements.

Faiz Al Koudsi, one of the JCS founders and its first president, took the audience through a trip down memory lane. He spoke about computing in Jordan in the seventies and how only five organizations had computers, mostly mainframes and mini-computers. He also talked about the beginnings of the PC revolution in Jordan and how it changed everything.

Surely, there is a lot to be learned from the senior members of this sector, many of whom were present at this event and recognized like Khaled Kilani, Yousef Bargouthi, Saeed Shoqum and Ahmad Sacca. Figures who have been involved in computing for two or three decades deserve recognition and have spearheaded the country’s development.

Looking to the future, there are some serious challenges facing both the Jordan Computer Society (JCS) and int@j, as a very demanding society of IT professionals and companies have various opinions on what needs to be done next.

The pace of change is now faster than ever, and professional societies and associations sense that they must move even faster than there members.
Provided there's the required leadership and vision, we'll hopefully be celebrating another 20 years of the Jordan Computer Society.


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