The Software, Standards and Society in 2020 Series: 7. The Standardization Landscape in 2020

When you try to pitch a film, you try to relate it to another successful film. So, you might say of a Sci-Fi movie script: “it is Forrest Gump meets StarTrek”. Similarly, one could say of the future of standardization, which is slightly more complex, it is either "Facebook meets ISO meets Microsoft meets Forrest Gump" (meaning it becomes further specialized, complex, and irrelevant, but hugely popular among the masses), or "Firefox meets Watergate meets W3C meets people" (meaning it will be hugely open, efficient, self-regulated, and shockingly simple). I prefer the latter. Let's go to 2020, and see what has happened:

The global standards process is the only game in town. All standards either quickly evolve in a transparent, open, efficient manner and become ubiquitous, or the effort is stopped. All meetings can be attended online, there is online voting facilities, but presence is encouraged at kick-off, and during especially tough negotiations, and at the last meeting. All interested parties get free travel to those meetings. For the rest, things happen online and via videolink and online/offline integration.

European Standards Organization (ESOs) are super lean marketeers of global standards, educational facilities, and provide advanced online material and face-to-face instruction to governments, students, and society, they also maintain the legacy of European Standards which were developed until 2010, trying to turn them into global standards (or dissolving them).

National Standards Organizations (NSOs) do not develop standards any more, but are competence centers that occasionally provide assistance on problem areas within global efforts, feeding directly in, and also act as face-to-face meeting places during global innovation jams.

The European Commission is a watchdog and liaises closely with a lean standards steering committee for software. It implements and references in procurement standards from wherever, as long as they are open.

National governments implement only global standards and send their own civil servants to important standards efforts, such as accessibility, health interoperability efforts, and suchlike.

ISO is either revitalized or disbanded. It is certainly smaller, leaner, and not under the UN anymore. Industry has an equal seat, and there is ample funding for SMEs who want to participate.

As I said, this is the future, not today. As for today, software is already an enabler of innovation across the economy. While this is good, it is not enough. People need to catch on to the same logic of interconnection, change, and flexibility built on a common platform—technology, ideas, and negotiation. When many people agree about what technologies they want, how they want to use them, and the technologies themselves are cooperating, a lot can get done.

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About

Trond Undheim, Ph.D, Director of Standards Strategy and Policy at the Oracle Corporation, speaker, entrepreneur, blogger, and author, is one of the world’s leading experts on technology and society. LinkedIn profile

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