CMA faces loss of independence after 49 years

Communications Management Association is to merge with the British Computer Society, due to the convergence of IT and telecoms tech

The only representative organisation for UK telecoms professionals is set to lose its status as an independent body.

The Communications Management Association (CMA) will, pending approval by its members, be swallowed by the British Computer Society (BCS), a much larger organisation which represents UK IT professionals.

The organisations argue the proposal is essential because IT and telecoms technology has converged and so there is no need for two separate user organisations.

If the proposal is passed, it will mean the end of the CMA's 49-year history as an independent organisation.

The CMA grew in popularity, from its establishment in the 1950s until the height of the dot-com boom, as the use of telecommunications rocketed.

But in 2001 its fortunes took a turn for the worse as funding drained from the industry. As a result, its annual exhibition and conference in Brighton collapsed and its membership base shrank rapidly.

Acceptance of the new proposal, which will be presented to members at the CMA's AGM in July, would see the association become a subsidiary of the BCS.

Both organisations would continue to sign members separately — with members of one organisation being granted affiliate membership of the other.

The BCS will establish a communications forum, which will be run by the CMA. The CMA will retain its headquarters in Leatherhead and its chief executive Glenn Powell, but its direction will be driven by a new strategic board.

The CMA has recently gone through two major changes. Six years ago it changed its name, abandoning its former title of the Telecommunications Managers' Association. Subsequently it altered its membership criteria to include corporate membership alongside the traditional individual membership.

Carolyn Kimber, chairman of the CMA, said that the name change "has not fully insulated us from the massive technical and organisation revolution in the industry during the past 10 years".

"Our industry is particularly fast moving," Kimber said, "and it goes without saying that the needs and roles of our members change with it."