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Title: "Telecommunication Standardisation - Do We Really Need The User?"
Authors: Kai Jakobs
Rob Procter
Robin Williams
Source: Internet
Publication Date: 1998
Free/Fee: Free Access
Reads: 1667
Abstract: Almost regularly do voluntary standardisation bodies issue calls for increased user participation in their work groups. This paper challenges such calls: first, it suggests that users are in no position to provide meaningful requirements on a new IT service from the outset, simply because of a lack of necessary experience. Second, the paper argues that an unconditional 'call for users', even if it were answered, would probably be counter-productive, in that a simple increase of the number of users on the committees would not necessarily increase the number of user representatives, but of company delegates. This is explained drawing upon evidence put forward by innovation theory. The views presented have been compiled through a number of interviews with representatives of both, large companies and standards setting organisations. The case of electronic mail is used to illustrate the arguments. Regarding the former we will link the corporate 'introduction strategy' typically to be observed in the case of e-mail (as a sample high-level communication service) to users' inability to contribute to standardisation from the outset. Regarding the latter we will argue that user participation at all costs does not achieve very much; in fact, it may rather be counter-productive due to the environment-specific requirements that each single user is likely to contribute. Throughout the remainder of the paper we will first look at the standards life cycle, especially if and how user requirements can be channeled into the standardization process, and the role users should play. The typical introduction strategy of corporate e-mail systems will subsequently be discussed, its schedule will be related to the one observed for standards setting, and the consequences from the context-specific nature of emerging requirements will also be addressed.
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