NFPA will be a leader in offering wider and easier access to its basic codes and standards content and will employ a “digital first” approach that focuses on solution-based products and services. We will proactively manage our business to achieve this vision while advancing our safety mission and meeting the financial needs of the organization.
NFPA is a great organization and is in the unique and enviable position of being able to transform the codes and standards business to respond to changes in the external environment. We have the desire and the resources to expand our influence and have greater impact on fire and life safety.
We have had great success over the years using a business model in which the principal source of revenue was the sale of print editions of our codes and standards. That business model is no longer sustainable.
The internet has changed the way content providers conceive of, design, and deliver content across multiple and changing platforms. We can no longer conceive of products first as traditional “books” and then convert them to digital formats. Content must be originated and developed to take full advantage of the capabilities of digital products and platforms.
The internet has also profoundly changed consumer and public expectations and attitudes about the availability and cost of content and intellectual property rights. These changes are affecting all content providers but have unique additional implications for organizations like NFPA, whose codes and standards are frequently adopted by reference in the laws and regulations of city, state, and federal governmental jurisdictions across the United States. While we assert copyright in our codes and standards, along with the rights to control their distribution and sale, those copyrights are open to emerging legal challenges arising out of their unique status, when adopted by reference, as “law.” Apart from legal questions, governmental jurisdictions are now, more and more, providing citizen access to their laws online, and those jurisdictions will be seeking greater assistance and cooperation from NFPA in providing access to NFPA codes and standards that are referenced in their laws.
While we will continue to assert our rights to own and reasonably control the copyrights in our codes and standards, we must positively embrace the emerging technological, legal, and policy challenges of the times. Our goal is to provide wider and easier access to our basic codes and standards content and to offset any potential lost revenues with new products and services that rely on our position as the authoritative developer and source of NFPA codes and standards.
To achieve our vision, we set forth the following guiding principles, which must be communicated and accepted at all levels of the organization.
- Codes and standards will always be the core of NFPA’s mission and the principal focus of NFPA’s new products and services.
- NFPA will continue to sell some versions of our basic codes and standards, but they can no longer be relied on as our main revenue source.
- NFPA will adjust our business model to accommodate the greatest access possible to basic codes and standards content to further integrate our business strategy with NFPA’s mission. Embracing wider and easier access allows us to reframe the current challenges as opportunities to create new products and revenue sources and to position NFPA as a recognized leader in meeting the evolving needs of customers (purchasers, constituents, governmental adopting authorities, and the public).
- NFPA will seek new and improved ways to provide, enhance, and make available free access to our basic codes and standards content beyond our current RealRead access. In doing so, we will consider the potential for this access to act as “freemiums” that attract customers for other revenue-generating products.
- NFPA will explore governmental adopting authorities as potential partners to enhance NFPA’s identity as the authoritative source of adopted codes and standards and to direct interested customers to NFPA.
- NFPA will utilize our new product development investments and capital expenditures to foster our shift toward a “digital first” approach that focuses from the outset on designing products for digital presentation.
- NFPA will focus development efforts on products that derive from our codes and standards and that incorporate original, proprietary NFPA content.
- NFPA will focus both on developing products to meet the needs of existing customers and on funding activities to develop new customer segments and distribution channels.
- NFPA will develop products that provide explanatory content, “just in time” learning, and customer workflow solutions.
- NFPA will utilize Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools, where appropriate, to protect intellectual capital, achieve growth, and sustain our mission.
- NFPA will develop products in which “findability” and accessibility through taxonomy-enabled tools are critical components; customers will value the ability to rapidly search, locate, and reference the specific NFPA content that is relevant to their needs.