The midpoint between the last ICANN meeting in June and ICANN51 taking place in Los Angeles in October seems an ideal moment to launch the fifth edition of ICANN meetings' Business Digest.
The Business Digest is designed to help companies that are newer to ICANN understand some of the issues relevant to their bottom line. It is a non-exhaustive summary of technical and policy highlights covered at the public meetings.
The Business Digest is offered in all of the ICANN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish) and is among our most popular business engagement tools, having generated over 10,000 views in various languages. You can obtain your own copy of the latest edition here.
Eighteen months into ICANN's dedicated business engagement program, we continue to deliver one overriding message: ICANN's work is crucial to the interoperability and growth of the Internet on which so many businesses depend. Furthermore, ICANN is an open and participatory model – business advantage and useful information can be gained through participation. Knowing – or actually shaping – "what's coming next" in Internet policy related to the Domain Name System and other unique identifiers is one reason many companies participate today.
What does ICANN ask in return from business? ICANN's "asks" range from simply a request that they follow ICANN's work, participate in working groups, submit public comments and – eventually, possibly – join the hard work of active policy development. In partnership with individual ICANN constituencies, as well as broader Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, we increasingly ask companies to devote more resources – time and people - to ongoing participation in ICANN, with an eye toward developing a geographically diverse pipeline of talented volunteers to carry ICANN's work forward over the decades to come.
But generating some 1000 followers on social media, over 350 viewers of our pre-ICANN meetings orientation webinars, and many thousands of downloads of ICANN for Business materials is actually the easy part. This is the kind of awareness raising and knowledge building that must take place to generate a flow at the outer edge of that pipeline of future stakeholders.
The social media and publications work is supplemented by partnerships with business organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), GSM Association (GSMA), World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), and Chambers of Commerce around the world. Increasingly, they are valuable intermediaries that keep the business community up to date on ICANN activities. Headline grabbing issues like the United States government's announcement regarding the transition of the IANA functions' stewardship and efforts to enhance ICANN accountability make it easier to draw their attention.
Still, the next big challenge is how to make it easier for these companies to participate at the technical working level: on issues of security and stability such as name collision, or topics related to new generic Top Level Domains like universal acceptance or the next round of applications. More than one company has recently asked us to "map" where their corporate interests overlap with ICANN policymaking. Here is where efforts at outreach, working alongside our constituency leaders, must be redoubled.
A good example of the effort underway is the Internet Service Providers and Connectivity Providers (ISPCP) constituency of the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO). Their push to recruit new members and inform more companies of the important ways ICANN affects their core businesses will serve as a guide for similar efforts on other fronts. The creation of compelling guides that serve as a menu of ways to "plug into" ICANN processes from the perspective of diverse business sectors such as software and hardware manufacturers, network operators, telecommunications companies, content providers and security firms will be our next order of business. We will also continue to promulgate "best practice" based on the experience of companies currently active at ICANN.
Bringing ICANN's important work to the attention of businesses around the world has been among the most satisfying experiences of my professional life, and it would not be possible without the strong partnership of the passionate and knowledgeable private sector participants active in the ICANN community. If you would like to join in ICANN business engagement efforts, I invite you to contact me directly at email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
In the meantime, please help us to spread the news about the latest edition of the Business Digest. I hope you enjoy reading it and look forward to your feedback!
Christopher Mondini is VP, Global Stakeholder Engagement for ICANN