Thursday, 15 October 2009

World Standards Day on EXPRESS: some snippets

Yesterday was World Standards Day. And it was on EXPRESS – the expert panel on the revision of the European standardisation system. See my blog post of Oct 6 for the announcement and in particular the link to the EXPRESS issues paper that had been prepared as input to yesterday's conference.

The conference was over all a success. At least if you count in participants. The large conference theatre in Charlemagne was not full, but well and densely populated. And the entire community of standards folks was around – the usual suspects and a good many more.

You couldn't really say that the conference did bring forth new breakthrough thinking. It was to a large extend rather a reconfirmation of the topics and issues that have been identified and are being discussed by the EXPRESS panel. This is good because it shows that the EXPRESS panel is capturing the critical items. There were no controversies, which might be due to the fact that participation from the audience was very much restricted to asking questions rather than bringing up ideas or criticism.

Several of the panelists were in positioning-mode rather than in visionary or brainstorming-mode. So the benefits of the ESOs and the current European standardisation system were stressed a lot with pointing at the needs to improve cooperation and the needs for global standards.

So here's what I personally take away as essentials from the conference:

  1. The critical issues that societies, or if you like: mankind, are facing in the next decade are around the environment, climate change, water and energy supply, optimisation and efficiency. Standardisation can help in finding smarter ways of doing things and getting processes and supply-chains better connected and optimised. The consequence to me is: What is needed is a mechanism to systematically support the integration of technologies via standards, the combination of standards into complex systems for solving the pressing issues described and foster innovative.

  2. Costas Andropoulos, Head of Commission Unit D4, gave a first overview on the comments the Commission received on the white paper on “Modernisation of the ICT standardisation policy in Europe”. The feedback is highly supportive to the Commission recommendations. Main areas where most comments were submitted include the list of attributes and their implementation; IPR; the composition of the platform. Costas explained that the Commission will now work on analysing the comments and taking them into account for the revision of the Council Decision. And he stressed that the Commission will submit a revised Council Decision in spring 2010 and that this time table even needs to be kept in case EXPRESS results should not be ready by then since further time should not be lost.

  3. Peter Brown, Executive Director of OASIS, pointed out that he and the OASIS Board of Directors see themselves not primarily as representing an organisation but as providing a platform for stakeholders to efficiently develop standards. I like this service provider attitude very much.

  4. The discussion around innovation was, to my mind, too much limited to the issue of transferring research results into standardisation. This is only one aspect of innovation. A broader view on innovation is needed taking into account the implementation of standards and the innovation on top of standards, e.g. for integrating technologies as described above. This innovation potential where open standards play a key role needs to be taken up by an effective European innovation policy.

And here's some criticism of the conference which I picked up in coffee break discussions:

  • Some people were disappointed that there were no real progressive or visionary thinking;
  • Some people were disappointed that there was a lack of representation of speakers in supporting open standards, more open and community oriented approaches;
  • Some people thought that the discussions were not lively enough.


Stephen Russell said...

Nice to find your blog, Jochen!

I dare say each of us there came away with different perspectives. The lack of vision arises from most sectors being well-enough served by the traditional (product) standardisation model represented by CEN and CENELEC. The ICT sector does have different needs and is far more sensitised to questions of open standards and patents.

As a societal stakeholder, I was concerned that there was insufficient discussion of the ability of traditional standardisation to set service levels across Europe (comparing the highly regulated frameworks of older Member States with the free for all of some of the newer). Can European standardisation be successful in such an environment?

As to the rather barren discussions, well, it takes two to tango and if the panellists are not provoked! Certainly this one would have been pleased to rise to the challenge (and rather enjoyed being heckled by DIN!).

Jochen Friedrich said...

Hi Stephen,
Thanks for your good comments.

You are 100% right regarding the take-aways from such a conference being dependent on the respective perspectives. So it was good to read your thoughts in your comment - which I can well understand and share.

You question about the difference in older vs. newer member states is interesting. We have not discussed that in EXPRESS yet. Perhaps we should look into that a bit more.