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Standards 2010: Prospects and Challenges for Standards Development in the Next Decade
As standards organizations enter the 2010s, they face very different circumstances than a decade a ago. At the dawn of the "2000s," analysts warned us that a key risk was the creation of a "tower of babel" as industry standards groups proliferated nearly as fast as dot.com start-ups. By the end of the decade, some groups had achieved measurable interoperability gains, but only at the cost of years of upfront committee time followed by implementation and revision cycles also spanning years. Today, standards organizations that have managed to survive the decade's two boom and bust cyles face vastly different funding circumstances and participation levels. At the same time, standards organizations are challenged by an accelerating pace of technology and marketplace change.
In this session, Chuck Allen, founder of the HR-XML Consortium and an adviser to other standards initiatives, will offer a survey of the state of standards development, including key challenges and new approaches. Among topics to be reviewed are:
Development methodologies. The committee processes driving most standards development organizations (SDOs) have remained largely unchanged over the past decade (STAR standards being an important exception). Most SDOs take months or years to spec out a standard with meaningful development against the specification beginning only after publication. While standards organizations have been slow to adapt their methodologies, in the same period, many enterprises have significantly transformed their internal development processes through the adoption of a range of agile methodologies. While there is growing recognition of the need to update standards development process, the prospect of applying agile methodologies to standards development tends to be met with equal degrees of interest and trepidation.
Intellectual property. Most standards organizations manage intellectual property by requiring participants to grant royalty-free licenses to the SDO and to anyone implementing the standard. For companies with large patent portfolios, this can impose a burden of expensive patent inventory searches and monitoring. Since each SDO has slightly different licensing terms, current licensing practices also prove challenging for an implementer wanting to apply multiple standards as well as for standards development organizations trying to converge standards. Patent non-assertion policies and efforts to simplify and standardize licenses hold some promise is reigning in the complexity associated with managing IP.
Funding models. Standards cost money to develop and maintain. However, traditional funding approaches, such as pay-to-play" and "pay-for-the-standard" don't always keep up with funding needs and can work as disincentives for adoption and engagement. There isn't an easy answer to the question of financial sustainability for many SDOs, particularly in these tight economic times. The answer likely lies in a combination of approaches, including doing more with less, the design of attractive sponsorships, meeting and programming fees, and taking advantage of grant opportunities.
About the Speaker
Chuck Allen, Integration Architect at SilkRoad technologies, Inc., was the founder and Executive Director of the HR-XML Consortium, Inc. Prior to founding HR-XML in Dec. 1999, Allen worked in a variety of new product development roles for major business publishers, including Thomson (now Thomson-Reuters) and the Bureau of National Affairs. Allen has a B.A. from the University of Virginia.