Standards can be either proactive or reactive. Proactive standards (like Internet enabling standards) can create new markets. Conversely, reactive standards that enhance the user experience are developed after the value of a market has been proven. Tracking the launch of reactive standards efforts can therefore provide clues on where industry players are placing their bets for future growth.
Universally adopted standards help turn global markets into level playing fields, while country-specific standards and unreasonable compliance requirements can erect effective trade barriers. When the barriers go up, international competitiveness goes down. In the long run, we all win when global standards win.
In the age of bricks and mortar, one organization might have been able to provide every standard that a given industry needed. But with ICT convergence, it takes a “village” of organizations to do the job. Of course, not everyone in a village always gets along.
Standard setting has historically benefited from the evolution of new processes and structures. Throughout that evolution, the commitment to openness has been a constant. Lately, that commitment seems to be weakening.
Single-purpose specifications were all well and good in the past. But as ICT structures and societal needs become more complex, new processes and end results will be needed: not just “standards”, but “commonalities”.
From the days of VisiCalc until today, software — and software patents — have come a long way. The patent system itself, on the other hand, is still where it was before the PC was invented. It’s time for a change.
IT Standards were big news in 2003. That’s no surprise, given that so many areas of modern life and business are now dependent upon them.
Thousands of companies are members of hundreds of standard setting organizations (SSOs). The methods such companys use for selecting these organizations are largely a mystery to those outside this small circle and, in fact, there seems to be little centralized order to the process that some employ. Yet companies often make significant investments in standard setting, with costs to the most active players running well into 8 figures annually. Making more data available regarding “best practices” decision-making would help all standard setting participants select organizations more wisely and gain the most from their memberships. At the same time, providing more information about member needs and selection methods would permit SSOs themselves to recruit more successfully and provide more effective – and valued – services.
For web services to impact the market as expected, standards must be of high technical quality, trusted and widely adopted. The best standards bodies to create them will ultimately be decided by the marketplace itself.
The modern technology-based world is increasingly dependent on the “global standard setting infrastructure,” made up of diverse processes and types of organizations. All are essential to the result and the value of each should be recognized and supported by Congress.