Friday, 29 October 2010

Interoperability was key topic at EU Digital Agenda Stakeholder Day

On Monday this week I participated in the EU Digital Agenda Stakeholder Day organised by DG INFSO. To begin with, this was a real workshop – and that's why I said participated above rather than attended. The point is: you could not just attend, you had to participate. The organisers had outlined this beforehand in the methodology for the workshop which was published on the Digital Agenda website. Participants had to move around, discuss the various proposals that had been submitted a while before the conference, had to convince others about their proposals, had to vote and select the top projects. This is what took place in the morning sessions. The afternoon then was dedicated to presenting the top projects to the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Vice-President Neelie Kroes and the Director-General of DG INFSO, Robert Madelin.

I liked this set up and methodology very much and I should say it was extremely successful. It really made people move and get engaged. It provided the proper disruptions that are needed to stifle creativity and innovative thinking. And after some warming up amongst all participants my impression was that everybody well accommodated to the workshop and its methodology.

Regarding the proposals that were submitted and discussed during the day, what was astonishing to me was the pervasive agreement on the high importance of interoperability. I would say in more than every second project proposal interoperability was a key element. This shows that its critical values are widely acknowledged and seen – interoperability is of high importance for fostering innovating, competitiveness and growth. And this naturally goes together with standards – open standards – that are an indispensable enabling force for interoperability.

Regarding the actual project proposals some were really interesting. Personally I took a lot of interest in the proposal on driving the use and development of standards around public sector information. This proposal even made it to the round of the top projects that were presented in the afternoon. I also liked the idea about making public procurement more transparent and driving that open standards and interoperability are major requirements in public procurement while referencing of specific products should not be a reality anymore. And I liked one project proposing the elaboration and implementation of an OASIS standard for reaching a meta-identifier working across the sectoral, vertical identifiers as used, for instance, in SWIFT, ODETTE, etc. This could really help in cross-sectoral eBusiness.

The stars at the end of the event were two guys who argued for better conditions in Europe for supporting young, digital entrepreneurs. Their cause is totally right. For my personal gusto they were a bit too critical about Europe. I know a lot of digital entrepreneurs who are very good and successful in Europe, e.g. in the region where I live. There are many such similar success stories of SMEs in Europe that have started around the internet and have very successfully established on the market. We should not forget about them in such debates.

To sum it all up: the Digital Agenda Stakeholder Day was, in my opinion, a very successful event. Very thought provoking and inspiring. I am curious to see the further results coming out of it.

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