In principle, NRENs should be open to and cater for the needs of all stakeholders, including those outside the immediate higher education (HE) and research member constituencies.
The reason for this is simple – NRENs often need external financial support to be sustainable. This support may come from government agencies or other donors. By addressing other public policy issues in addition to HE and research, government agencies may be more willing to provide support. For example, if connecting secondary schools or hospitals to national services is a government priority, NRENs can address this need by providing appropriate services and detailing it in relevant proposals.
Who are your stakeholders and what are their needs?
A sound business model relies on knowing who your stakeholders are understanding their needs. This will enable you to align your service offering accordingly.
The following is an example of a needs/stakeholder matrix which will help you identify your key stakeholders and map their priorities.
The numbers in the cells denote what kind of service is most appropriate in terms of marketplace differentiation criteria, as defined under Step 2 in our approach.
- Gap reduction
- Service uniqueness
- Economies of scale
Once the matrix is completed it can be used for various purposes:
- Firstly, it is a blue print for the part of the NREN business model that describes the services that will be provided for potential customers.
- It can also be used to determine if identified user groups should even be considered as potential NREN members. It is not always worthwhile to connect members that only ask for services that are already available and less expensive on the market.
- Some services can be offered to all or most stakeholders and other services will be tailor made for specific user groups. One should avoid offering advanced or specific services to user groups that, for example, just require simple internet access.
In the above matrix we have used examples of services. An extended overview of NREN services is available from the GÉANT Association Compendium.