The chapter argues that any distinction between “e-business” and “infrastructure” is artificial. It shows that the lower-level techncial standards that make up the ICT infrastructure exert a direct impact on the e-business standards and systems that are using it. Accordingly, any assessment of the effect of standards on e-business has to take into account all layers of standards.
The analysis of standardisation in the ICT area is commonly segmented to study either demand or supply-side phenomena. Based on issues more often related to disciplinary interests (most often economics) than to current concerns of industry, studies tend to focus on either the initiation and elaboration of standards, or on conditions for their adoption and (much less often) their implementation. This book starts from the observation that this segmented focus significantly hampers the broader understanding of how standards interact with the networked organisations. The book therefore combines a study of supply and demand-side factors that affect the relevance and the quality of standards – and, thus, influence their impact – for networked organisations.
The market for electronic business solutions is vast and heterogeneous. E-business solutions have the potential both to affect the organisation of many existing markets but also have the scope to open up significant vistas for new economic activities (as the literature has been at pains to point out). In this setting it is therefore clear that characteristics rooted in the changing ‘user environments’ can prime demand for standards, can shape their relevance, and can therefore condition their potential impacts. It is equally clear that factors related to the way these standards are developed will affect their relevance and their ultimate impacts for existing markets as well as for emerging markets (perhaps unforeseen by the original sponsors of the individual standard).
In this context, this book addresses the dynamic between factors that condition demand and those that condition the supply for standard. The ultimate aim is to provide the basis on which to better understand how e-business standards might be better articulated to the changing needs of networked organisations. The book is concerned with the interaction of standards with their environments. In light of this interaction the focus is especially directed to the changing landscape of Standards Setting Bodies (SSBs), including their ability to adapt to, and potentially to influence these market environments.