Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Better standards, better processes, better quality

IBM released today it's new IT standards policy. It focuses on openness and the quality of standards. The main objective is described in following way:

IBM's new standards policy promotes simplified and consistent intellectual property practices, and emphasizes that all stakeholders, including the open source community and those in growth markets, should have equal footing as they participate in the standards process.

The new principles for participation in standards organisations were derived out of a standards jam held over the summer with a large group of participants from industry, academia, governments, etc. A summary of this jam session is also available online.

Being part of IBM's global standards team, I am, of course, curious how this announcement and the publication of the principles will be perceived. Initial reactions from the press are already out. I even got some first e-mails from colleagues asking for more information. So there is some good first indication that the clear position IBM takes in this announcement creates interest and gains momentum.

I believe that these new principles and the clear position taken on processes and practices has the potential to stir some good discussions around standardisation. And discussion, actions towards change and improvement are essential. Standardisation has been abused in several instances in the past years. And a lot of confusion has been created around the development and the use of the term "standard", including nasty beasts like "proprietary standards" and "de facto standards" as well as arguing in favour of competing and/or multiple standards because they were, some say, essential for innovation. To be blunt: all of this happened because some wanted to better meet their vested business interests.

It is, therefore, high time for clear decisions to ensure that standardisation will, in a way, get back to its roots, yet on a higher level, matching the requirements and utilising the opportunities of the age of the internet, e.g. in terms of openness and transparency.

The new IBM principles are meant to help a bit in driving the discussion around standards into this directions and moving towards the respective consequences in the standards ecosystem. We don't need more confusion and abuse in standardisation; we need good standards that meet the needs of industry and users, of governments and society.

This is what is expressed in the introductory statement to the announcement; it is intended

To Encourage Improved Tech Standards Quality and Transparency, and Promote Equal Participation of Growth Markets in Globally Integrated Economy

No comments: