Industry-wide standards play a vital role in our
globalizing world.For example, in order to conform to foreign
standards, 84% of German companies use European and International
Standards as part of their export strategy.
The Umbrella Organization of German Industry (BDI) published a position
paper (9 Theses on the Significance of Standards for German Industry in
the 21st Century) in 2004 on the meaning of standards in the 21st
century.This paper treats micro- and macroeconomic as well as legal
and political aspects of the international standardization.The
findings are very significant and affect our work in the Open
Geospatial Consortium (OGC).For this reason, I present extracts of
this position paper.
Standards make an important contribution to national and
Standardization is a vital part of practical industrial policy.
Standards provide the general public with information on important
technical and organizational features.They describe a consensus on
technical and organizational solutions for products and services as
well as systems and processes.Standards help create interoperable
products, define equal requirements for production processes, set
comparable quality criteria or stipulate systems for the management.
Thus standards promote understanding, interoperability and
compatibility, contributing towards rationalization and a high level of
quality for products and services.
Standards serve as proof of quality and support the flow of information
and management along the value chain.They are the link between the
national and especially the international division of labour.They are
therefore of particular importance for the competitiveness of an
industry that is very focused on exports.Standardization does not just
facilitate the transfer of knowledge but also the opening up of
Standards support the innovation capability of enterprises for
products, services and management by creating objective and
internationally recognized parameters, targets and yardsticks for
Standards promote innovation and competition.Their application is
voluntary and therefore does not block or restrict technological
progress.On the contrary, they create leeway for innovation.
Experience clearly shows that new technical standards often give a
foothold to new technologies.Standardization also helps make knowledge
about technologies transparent and generally available.
As a result, standardization ultimately determines the positions in
competition.Everyone has the means of participating and those who join
in at an early stage are often better able to assert their interests
Standards create business and political added value as they are
drawn up in cooperation with corporate expertise and in consensus with
all sectors of society.
In Germany, standards are drawn up by industry, government, scientists
and NGOs in a social consensus, thus efficiently pooling the
technological expertise our society has gathered.Standardization is
therefore in the literal sense of the word a grass roots movement.It
is supported in the main by industry, which alone in Germany sends over
26,000 honorary experts to standardization committees.All sectors of
society should be able to effectively contribute to the standardization
This broad-based social consensus means that standardization enjoys a
high level of acceptance among all stakeholders.This in turn creates a
reliable basis for their application.The voluntary nature of the
application of standards creates an attractive mixture of flexibility
and legal certainty that also provides for standards to be regularly
checked and updated, as is common practice.
Standards are important instruments to achieve technical, political
and managerial objectives.They greatly contribute to deregulation and
can complement legal and economic parameters in a targeted and flexible
Standards are also a great help for the legislator and the
administration.They provide assistance in the technical and practical
implementation of legal requirements, which has been used for a long
time by the "New Approach" in EU legislation, for example.In many
cases, standards describe the state-of-the-art technology and clearly
spell out statutory diligence requirements.With civil servants
participating in the drawing up of standards in their respective areas
of expertise, standards can improve the description and implementation
of legal requirements.
The state also plays a central role in standardization and must
create suitable framework conditions.
Fully functional standardization is a core part of the technical and
scientific infrastructure.The state relies on standardization in many
ways.The state is therefore responsible for securing suitable
framework conditions for standardization which is supported by
industry.A reversal of the original purpose of standardization towards
an increase in state influence must be prevented.Even if the basic
decisions or objectives are and should be determined by the legislator,
standardization must not be loaded with political issues.
To safeguard the primacy of the market, standardization must not serve
as a state-controlled means of implementing environmental and social
policy objectives which failed to find majority approval elsewhere.
Nationally and internationally recognized standards strengthen the
international competitiveness of products and enterprises in that they
guarantee transparency, the necessary technical preconditions and
provide yardsticks for business activity.
In the era of globalization, standards must be international.Only
internationally recognized standards can promote free world trade.The
relationship between the International Organization for Standardization
(ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European CEN (European Standards
Organization), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization
(CENELEC) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
must be clarified, as well as their relationship to other standardizing
organizations.Competing standards should be avoided, as different
standards force companies to modify their products for different
countries.This would obstruct the export opportunities of products and
endanger their international recognition.
Standardization creates the precondition for economic success and
innovation by standardizing the basic elements of technology and
management.Real economic success and innovation arise from the
creative combination of these elements.Standardization thus reaches
its natural limits when it begins to curtail the freedom which fuels
innovation.The original purpose and strength of standardization is
still to create preconditions for the freedom which is the driving
force of innovation.
OGC's "market share," that is, the percentage of available products
that implement OGC standards, is rising rapidly.The OGC Board of
Directors is committed to providing the necessary material and
personnel resources to be sure this progress continues, guided by close
attention to the needs of our markets and users.I am confident we will