Business is a broad category. The work of ICANN affects much of it. Every business that depends on a scalable, unified and stable Internet has a stake.
That makes engagement with business both daunting and inspiring. Whether you are running a mobile payments platform in Kenya, a globally branded consumer products company in Japan, an Internet start-up in Turkey, an IT consultancy in India, or an Internet service provider in Uruguay, ICANN is –quite literally– working for you. Yet ICANN remains, for many, "the most important organization you've never heard of".
Over the last six months I have met with representatives in each category above, and many more. Once they learn of ICANN's role and remit, they immediately understand how crucial it is to their bottom line. That's the easy part. Also quite easy to convey is how ICANN's work must serve the global public interest and address the interests of all stakeholders, not just business. More complex are conversations about the model that sustains ICANN's work and how, together, we can strengthen and enhance it.
With help from leaders within the ICANN community as well as some diverse new voices, we've been working to address challenges surfaced in each conversation: How to follow ICANN's work without needing to be an expert? How to selectively participate when a business' specific interests are affected? How (and why) to invest limited resources in following broader Internet Governance issues?
One conclusion reached by members of our Global Stakeholder Engagement team is that we require a differentiated engagement approach, tailored for diverse categories, levels of interest, and bandwidth. And even though ICANN is reaching out for broader participation from parts of the globe newly connected by an expanding Internet, the pathway to participation begins with many small but important steps: awareness-raising, education and outreach among them. This is as true for business stakeholders as for every other group we serve.
Today I am pleased to announce one of these small steps — the launch of the @ICANN4Biz Twitter feed. The objective of this platform is to provide both general interest content and a forum for discussion to a growing and diverse population of business stakeholders – stakeholders who may never attend an ICANN Public Meeting, but who nonetheless wish to engage in the discussion. Business stakeholders without a Twitter presence can also follow our LinkedIn company page.
We plan for more diverse platforms to reach more geographies in due course, but are seeking to test the waters with these first. I hope you will join our group. Whether you become an active commenter and poster, or simply choose to follow, you'll be helping to guide ICANN's business engagement efforts.