Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) published the results of the 2021 Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions Customer Engagement Survey which measures engagement satisfaction among IANA customers and external stakeholders.
ICANN commissioned Echo Research, LLC, a global reputation consultancy, to administer the annual engagement survey. The survey was conducted with many stakeholders, both representations of community leadership, as well as direct customers of the IANA functions. Representative groups surveyed included Regional Internet Registry (RIR) managers, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), the ICANN Customer Standing Committee (CSC) , Trusted Community Representatives (TCRs), the councilors from the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) and the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).
Respondents were asked to rate the IANA functions' performance according to 22 key statements relating to credibility, transparency, attentiveness, fairness, timeliness, and accountability. Each statement was rated on a 1-5 scale, with one being the lowest and five being the highest level of satisfaction.
Survey Results Overview
The overall score among customers was 4.0, a slight decrease from 4.1 received in 2020. The participation rate increased from eight to ten percent in 2021.
Results show that stakeholders in community leadership groups scored the IANA functions higher (4.2) than direct customers (4.0). The protocol parameter customers gave the highest overall scores (4.1), with both the Naming and Numbering function groups scoring 4.0.
Community leadership gave IANA the highest score on its ability to listen to the concerns of customers (4.4). The lowest scores of that group were in the fairness category (4.2) when compared to 2020 scores (4.4). Findings that warrant closer examination include the CSC scoring lower than other groups in its belief that IANA does not play favorites with its customer groups (3.3), and the RIR scoring lower in its trust that IANA's reasoning for saying no to stakeholder groups is justified (3.8). The IETF leadership rated IANA the highest (4.5) in its fairness to customers, followed by TCRs (4.2).
IANA's direct customers sustained the highest scores for credibility (4.1), particularly, in statements relating to the group's confidence in the IANA team's skills and ability to achieve its objectives (4.3), and in IANA's established credibility (4.3). Root server operators rated the team the highest in both areas (4.8). The lowest scores were recorded in the fairness (3.9) and accountability (3.9) categories. They dropped from 4.2 in 2020. The question asking if IANA displayed favoritism among its stakeholders received the lowest score of the survey by root server operators (3.0). Generic top-level domain (gTLD) operators had the lowest scores for the accountability statements such as IANA acknowledging their mistakes (3.4) and routinely delivering on its commitments to customers (3.7).
The IANA team continues to develop its approach to sending surveys to identify areas for growth, while seeking to avoid survey response fatigue. This year's efforts to promote participation included more personalized invitations with unique links to the survey rather than relying on customer mailing lists. This led to a noticeable increase in the number of responses from the RIR and the ccNSO Council. A low response rate from the communities serviced by the IANA key signing ceremonies continues to be of concern. Additional strategies to gauge their satisfaction will be considered for future surveys.
As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the IANA team also added one targeted question regarding customers' engagement preferences. Fifty percent of respondents stated they preferred to remain remote. Forty-one percent of respondents asked for more hybrid approaches. Only 17 percent of respondents preferred to return to in-person engagements as before the pandemic. This was an open-ended question with some respondents opting for more than one method of engagement.
"The annual engagement survey is a useful tool in evaluating our relationship with customers and stakeholders. We're pleased we've been able to sustain our positive relationship with our community leaders, but these results also show that we need to reach out to some groups throughout the year and encourage their participation" said the Vice President, IANA Services and President, Public Technical Identifiers (PTI), Kim Davies.
"While the survey is just one of the ways we get feedback from our customers, this year's results will specifically help us refine our strategy and collaboration with the community as we start to navigate the post-pandemic era of engagement. We'll also speak directly with our key stakeholders about some of the surprising results and better understand and remediate any perceived challenges."
Public Technical Identifiers (PTI) is an affiliate of ICANN responsible for performing the IANA functions, which include management of the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone, the global Internet Protocol address space, and other protocol parameters that support Internet operation. PTI was formed in 2016 following a transition of stewardship to the multistakeholder community that relies upon the IANA functions. PTI performs the IANA functions under contract with ICANN.