Standards are the foundation of our world
“For us, standards are door-openers in successfully establishing technologies and innovations on the market.” This statement by Karl Dungs of DUNGS Combustion Control, a company with annual revenue of over €100 million, succinctly illustrates how standards, when used and implemented correctly, are essential in any form of product development.
Standards are often the catalysts for innovation to become reality. They ensure products have minimum barriers in interoperability and compatibility. In the field of information technology, the standardisation of HyperText Markup Language (HTML), first in HTML 2.0 by Tim Berners-Lee and Daniel Connelly (Berners-Lee & Connelly 1995), and then in HTML 3.2 (Raggett 1997) paved the way for people to gain a sufficient understanding of HTML. This is an excellent example of how standards have the potential to drive growth in a completely new market by providing a knowledge-base and framework for users to adapt and develop a product to meet their own requirements. With hindsight, we can see how the rapid growth and adaptation of this concept drove an entire countries’ market growth during the internet boom, with notable growth of over 600% in the NASDAQ from 1995 and until March 2000 (Google Finance 2000). The market subsequently crashed when the “Dot.com Bubble” burst and stocks tumbled.
All this was made possible through the creation of standards for HTML. Were these standards not created and developed, or possibly not made public, the world would be a very different place. Standards are truly essential for all industries and have been important in numerous applications. They define the protocols of product development. Berners-Lee and Connelly recognised the importance for the internet to be interoperable and compatible on a larger scale. It also undoubtedly ensured the World Wide Web had the ability to reach consumers quicker as people could easily engage and develop the application of standards to their own products and ideas. The time required for new websites to be developed would likely increase exponentially. Standards can therefore also assure a decreased time to market.
The implementation of standards in product development has saved immeasurable amounts of time and money in the early phases of production by allowing the development to have a solid foundation, in the form of standards, to work with. The benefit of conforming to a standard in the development process, as opposed to the development of one’s own procedure, process or style allows users of the standard to avoid “reinventing the wheel” and spending more time and money on creating higher quality products or services. The same concept is applied to processes of manufacturing the product. Were a business required to develop and create a new process, the costs of the production would increase greatly. By using a knowledge-base of tried and tested processes and applying the specific standard to a new product, it is clear how time and money is again saved in product development.
With the use of high quality standards throughout the process of product development, it is clear to see why Karl Dungs states that the likelihood of success of a product is increased. Furthermore, by using the standards that have been applied throughout the process, the business can easily assess the process throughout all of its stages.
In reference to the creation of standards being the driving force behind the “dot.com boom”, there is an argument to be made that the subsequent crash of the markets could be a result of standards not being able to keep up with the business strategies and ideals that were implemented during the later period of the boom. Standards of how business was conducted in the industries related to the internet were never developed. Such standards would have been able to give guidelines to investors of the quality of the investment.
The development of standards further lowers barriers for entry into new markets by creating standards for the industry that ensures governments are not required to create regulations and laws for the market. This allows for much easier development of the market as the standards can be developed and changed in accordance with the advancement of the market. This is especially applicable in the technology industries as their development is enhanced by looser frameworks and lesser legislation to govern, which would not be able to keep up with technology development and so would stifle the growth of the industry.
It is interesting to note that, in an industry that is often vocal in their support for less regulation and less framework, internet companies and users often miss the fact that it was regulations and framework in the form of standards that allowed the industries to succeed. Without HTML, this article would likely never have been seen by more than a handful of people. Standards are developed as a platform and should be respected for how they have saved countless hours and immeasurable amounts of money in developing the products and services we know today.