Survey Planet: A Promising New Avenue for Online RFPs
Another piece of the corporate real estate pie has gone online: surveying. The new Survey Planet site (www.surveyplanet.com) came online in October "to offer a single, Internet-based resource for surveyors and their clients to exchange and share information and services," as the site's home page puts it. And surveying is big business, as the site explains: There are more than a million surveyors worldwide "who, together with realtors, builders, engineers and other professionals, generate . . . US$25 billion per year . . . through surveys."
Then there's this site's description of the surveying industry, which, significantly, could equally apply to a substantial swath of all of corporate real estate: "While the surveying sector is clearly lucrative and steadily growing on a global scale, it's also highly inefficient, archaic, and fragmented." This could be the site that ushers surveying into the Internet Age, particularly in its ability to process online requests for proposal (RFPs) for surveying.
That assessment, though, comes garnished with a substantial helping of wait-and-see. Users should also realize that this is a totally new site. As such, you may encounter some glitches along the way (which, after all, is the halting way in which online progress is made).
Companies wishing to participate in Survey Planet's online RFPs first need to register. (The rest of the site requires no registration.) The registration process, however, is mercifully brief, with about half a screen's worth of informational boxes to fill in. Most of the registration information is simply the basics, the name/address/city stuff you can (and may) do in your sleep.
Survey Planet also promises a "qualification-based proposal process." Obviously, whether this new site can pull actually off meaningful pre-qualification remains very much to be seen. That's an awfully tall order. If this site proves that it can pre-qualify participants, though, it could ease the potential deluge of unqualified applicants that companies might otherwise encounter in putting their surveying RFPs online.
Another benefit of the site's online RFP process rests in the 24/7 nature of the Net. RFPs can be posted and responded to around the clock. That, in turn, could provide substantial benefits to companies that are in a hurry (which, these days, is most of our companies) and/or are operating in multiple areas around the world.
Some other features that may provide substantial assistance weren't yet online during our site test drive, but were only briefly described. Survey Planet officials say they expect the site "to be fully functional by late fall of 1999."
One feature that we noticed in particular was a not-yet-online searchable "database of survey firms around the world."
Interested users, however, have an option to the deadening process of continually going back to the site to find the promised content that they're looking for. The Survey Plant site provides a "guest book" that users can sign to receive e-mail notification whenever the site's newest features are up and running.
Other site features that were either online during our test drive or promised in the near future included:
This site's graphics are clean and professional, and site navigation is smooth.
Overall, Survey Planet seems to know its business. That perhaps reflects the backgrounds of the site's three cofounders: Jesus Moulinet and Bill Stevens, partners and co-owners of Landmark, a planning, engineering and surveying firm, and Mark Plog, a professional surveyor.
In the final analysis, though, in its current neophyte stage, promise seems to be what this site is all about - at least for now. Once again, time will be the arbiter as to how this Survey Planet navigates between two divergent futures: either evolving into a site that actually provides added value for online users or, on the other hand, devolving into a slice of cyberspace that's been slapped up purely for the purpose of selling things.
If Survey Planet fulfills that first, value-adding possibility, it will be a plus in the real estate industry's burgeoning online world.