Net Pushes Institute to Reassess Business Strategy

Net Pushes Institute to Reassess Business Strategy

The internet has brought the UK royal institutes and societies firmly into the 21st century.

With a wealth of information freely available and social networks on every corner, grand organizations formerly relying on traditional print publishing arms to bring in revenue have had to change.

Publishing remains the mainstay of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). But Tim Robinson, director of strategic business development, has just completed the second iteration of an online strategy that allows its members to access crucial surveying information from any web-enabled device.

The same strategy has also opened up RICS content to a wider audience searching for information, who can now view a degree of information for free, or without having to be a member, instantly pay and consume surveying information.

Unlike many knowledge-based organizations, RICS has not adopted web-based information delivery as a strategy of driving down costs -- by reducing costly printing runs -- instead it sees online delivery as a business strategy that enables it to gather information and direct future strategy. Print is still very much part of the business model for RICS, but Robinson reports that his online strategy has allowed the organization to deeply analyze customer and member behavior, something he describes as being invaluable.

RICS had been focused on British private practice surveyors, which Robinson says made delivering information easier. But, as with most organizations, it had to grow and to expand into overseas markets, not only through the internet, but also opening physical offices in emerging markets. The overall business strategy has been to make RICS the mark of professionalism for surveyors around the world. Today it has 140,000 members -- its core customers -- in 146 countries. It sets the standards for surveying across the world and provides crucial information to governments. Its Red Book is considered throughout the surveying industry the definitive set of standards. China is among the markets clamoring for high value information from RICS.

"RICS no longer see membership subscriptions as the only or most important revenue stream to help the organization do what it does, which is inform government agendas," Robinson says. Following assessments, the organization is taking advantage of high quality information and software to generate income.

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