For more than 20 years, ISC Research has provided detailed data on the English-medium international school market and has grown to be the trusted leader in this field. Finalsite is among many companies who work in the international space and turn to ISC Research (ISC) for critical and accurate data on international schools.
We sat down with Anne Keeling, Communications Director, to discuss the growth of ISC during the 10 years we have worked together, and how impressive their growth has been, particularly in the past 4 years. We both nostalgically recalled their small team that was busy flying around the world some 7 years ago. Times have changed and now, under the leadership of their new CEO, Leigh Webb, ISC has grown to include 9 field offices, a team of 50, and expanded service offerings to meet the changing and growing demands of the international school market.
Supported by researchers, data analysts and report writers, along with a strong sales and marketing team, ISC provides market intelligence on the 9,000+ international schools who teach nearly five million students worldwide. From key leadership, staff, examinations, fees and much more, ISC collects a wealth of information on each school. Their team of experts collect raw data and intelligence so that analysts can then produce reputable, timely and comprehensive research that is both online and in various reports.
Through the help of the ISC Research Online database, Finalsite has engaged key schools and decision makers and has now deployed over 200 international school websites in over 70 countries. This growth has enabled Finalsite to expand internationally both in terms of employees, and product enhancements that meet the unique needs of international schools. Finalsite also relies on this data to plan future events and to evaluate growth markets.
"Since we have been collecting this data for over 20 years, we are able to forecast market trends and produce valuable market forecasts," said Anne. "Furthermore, if, a US-based school group is looking to expand their brand overseas, we can provide them with detailed intelligence and data analysis to help them assess and evaluate business opportunities, and also connect them to legal partners and other expert partners specializing in that region."
From the school side, ISC can help institutions benchmark themselves against their competition, to help them identify where they stand within their market and to help them achieve their goals. School directors and board members rely heavily on ISC reports to help with their planning and for developing strategies based on opportunities and threats in their markets. The ISC reports are beautifully crafted, providing easy-to-read data that is intuitively presented. Reports are available for key countries where development and market changes are likely.
China is one of the countries in the spotlight right now and a new, very extensive market report will be available soon from ISC providing crucial due diligence for school expansion, new development, and marketing strategy. Other recent reports include Vietnam where new legislation is predicted to open up the market, India where private international education is gaining popularity from local families as the country develops, and Latin America which has seen huge growth in bilingual schools offering an international curriculum.
ISC is also producing many more reports for other sectors related to the international education market such as State of the Market, and Supplying the Market reports for education suppliers and higher education institutions.
Suffice to say, if you want data, intelligence or expertise on the international school market, then ISC Research can help you.
The Redesign: ISC Needed a More Polished and Informative Website
As their organization grew, so was the need for a more polished and informative web presence. "We reached out to Finalsite because we knew Finalsite's reputation in the market and knew Finalsite had the expertise in working with international schools around the world," Anne said. "Finalsite's understanding of this market was a key factor in our decision process. Finalsite was not the cheapest solution but offered the best solution to meet our website requirements both today and moving forward in the future."
In the interest of time and resources, ISC opted for a theme design website that was built and tested by our award-winning design team, and also met their information architecture requirements. From there, they were able to create their branded website and showcase all the new great services they offered. Anne stressed that working with Geeta Rajaraman, Web Solutions Analyst based in Luxembourg: "[Working with Geeta] was a dream. Geeta put her heart into working with us so that we could meet our deadlines and accomplish all that we wanted to do."
Finalsite offers a vast array of video tutorials but Anne admitted she did not have time to watch them all. She also stressed that the CMS, Composer, is so intuitive that a lot of up-front training wasn't necessary. "Finalsite was very patient and helped us get it just right – without making us feel like we were a nuisance. It was a somewhat organic, non-linear process, and we had plenty of time to develop our ideas as they kept evolving. We did not want to rush into our first ideas but involve others on our team who could help tune the messaging to get it just right."
Just one month before the new website went live, ISC hired a graphic designer. This was a critical decision for the company as it expanded, and has proven to be instrumental in adding further depth and flare to their website. Their designer has been able to craft visuals that are easy to digest and understand in the complex data world. More graphical representation has now become a key component in their intelligence reports as they reflect and translate data to make it engaging and digestible.
What's next on the Horizon for ISC?
With its expertise in the international school market, ISC is engaging with a growing number of higher education institutions around the world. This is a sector of its business ISC predicts will expand further as universities increasingly recognise the value of students that English-medium international schools produce; well prepared for undergraduate degrees in Western countries from the perspectives of language fluency, respected qualifications, and independent, collaborative and creative learning skills.
By connecting universities and colleges to international schools, international officers can work with the school College Counsellors to help raise awareness of their undergraduate degree courses and admission requirements as well as market their summer programmes, universities are also using ISC data and intelligence to identify new provision for international teacher training programs which are in demand. "These new services fit nicely with what we do already, and our provision relevant to higher education has been positively received by both the schools and the higher education institutions," said Anne.
"Our new website is a huge improvement and our entire team feels it truly reflects our organization," she said. "We will look to enhance the site even further based on feedback, usability testing and with input from our colleagues wish lists. The advice and service we have received from Finalsite has been excellent and we look forward to working together with them in the future. "
Look for ISC and Finalsite, sponsors of SchoolSuccess China, in Shanghai on 21 November where both will be sharing their expertise to help schools in China further succeed through the use of data and digital platforms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As part of Finalsite's marketing team, Debbie has worked with international schools for the past 8 years while living in both Asia and Europe. From conference planning and presentations, to association events, and client success stories, she helps schools understand how they can maximize their web presence while partnering with Finalsite. In her free time she enjoys traveling and attending events at her children's school in Berlin, Germany.