Challenges Facing Technology Standardization in the Age of Digital Transformation

Challenges Facing Technology Standardization in the Age of Digital Transformation

Brian McAuliffe (HP Inc., Ireland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9008-8.ch003
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It is widely recognized that we are in rapid transition to the so-called fourth industrial revolution, a world of digitalization and mass interconnectedness enabled by a plethora of emergent powerful technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and distributed ledgers (DLT). A key element of this “revolution” is the move to digital manufacturing. While undoubtedly exciting, this transition presents challenges to policymakers, industry, and societal stakeholders alike. One such challenge is defining an optimum level for any market intervention measure(s), such that a balance is struck between ensuring a pro-industrial and economic innovation-friendly approach and guaranteeing adequate levels of consumer-focused protection. Standardization can be leveraged as one element of interventionary policy designed to help strike the required balance, both in its well-proven bottom-up and industry-led voluntary application and as a tool to support implementation of regulations. With a focus on digital transformation, this chapter will analyze the readiness of the current standardization system to support this significant transition focusing on strengths and challenges to be addressed from the perspective of industry, policymakers, and standards-setting organizations.
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Technology And Standardization Up To Now

Mostly technological innovation takes the form of discrete and incremental developments in the area of a product or service – for example how computers have gone from mainframe to tablets over many decades. Accordingly, the focus of technology SDOs was in well-defined silos, for example at ITU (telecommunications)1, IEC (eletrotechnical)2, and ISO (technology specific technical committees (TCs) e.g. on health informatics)3, and standards were developed that focused on individual products or product categories (think telephones, washing machines) or on interfaces enabling interconnection of products, such as the IEEE 802.34 series of ethernet standards.

This highly segmented standardization structure enabled suppliers develop products to comply with one or more relevant product-specific standards, with some differences depending on market geography. Once the appropriate product and interface-specific standards were implemented, the result was a well-functioning market with an interoperable set of products and services that leveraged them.

As well as benefitting the consumer, it also meant that manufacturing companies could specify standards-based procurement requirements for machines, products, and services they required for the production process.

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