Open Standards – the key to the enterprise market

Innovators whether domiciled in larger corporations or running in startup mode are always on the lookout for frictionless market access. With an increased focus on the B2B (business to business) segment, the enterprise market makes for a juicy proposition should you get your foot in.

The characteristics of this segment must however be closely analyzed, if one is to make any headway. Large corporations could be said to be set in their ways having gone through various transformative processes to get to where they are from a revenue, client base and market share perspective. Of this processes is the application of standards that guide how they and their systems operate.

Simply put, an open standard is a prescribed model of operation that would ensure interoperability, often arrived at through a consultative process by interested parties. This should not be confused with open source – which in its various license subsets gives anyone rights to use, alter and distribute a code base , as one can roll out a proprietary solution built on open standards.

Interoperability is the main reason why open standards makes the enterprise tingle, as it affords them vendor neutrality and reduces overall cost of maintenance, as there is a large pool of human resources already well versed or that can be easily trained.

Standards apply both in the technical bits of technology and in the technical bits of each industry vertical. For example, if you are building the next game changing finance solution targeted at the banking sector, for your solution to even get  through the door, it must be aligned to banking standards that have been established and adhered to for ages. Unless a  powerful concurrence of factors leads to market disruption, it is highly unlikely that your solution will see the light of day. Now that you have built for the industry as advised, Bank A runs its systems on Stack X while Bank B uses Stack Z.  That both stacks have been built on open standards, means that your innovation can play well with either, meaning access to a larger pool of potential clients with minimal tweaking, if at all to your solution.

It pays to get schooled on the standards that guide operations in the industry verticals that you are targeting before hunkering down to build out your solution. It will make for a reduced cost of innovation and a much easier sales pitch to the entire industry.

The Modern Paradigm for Standards is shaped by adherence to the following five principles (http://open-stand.org):

1. Cooperation

Respectful cooperation between standards organizations, whereby each respects the autonomy, integrity, processes, and intellectual property rules of the others.

2. Adherence to Principles

Adherence to the five fundamental principles of standards development:

  • Due process. Decisions are made with equity and fairness among participants. No one party dominates or guides standards development. Standards processes are transparent and opportunities exist to appeal decisions. Processes for periodic standards review and updating are well defined.
  • Broad consensus. Processes allow for all views to be considered and addressed, such that agreement can be found across a range of interests.
  • Transparency. Standards organizations provide advance public notice of proposed standards development activities, the scope of work to be undertaken, and conditions for participation. Easily accessible records of decisions and the materials used in reaching those decisions are provided. Public comment periods are provided before final standards approval and adoption.
  • Balance. Standards activities are not exclusively dominated by any particular person, company or interest group.
  • Openness. Standards processes are open to all interested and informed parties.

3. Collective Empowerment

Commitment by affirming standards organizations and their participants to collective empowerment by striving for standards that:

  • are chosen and defined based on technical merit, as judged by the contributed expertise of each participant;
  • provide global interoperability, scalability, stability, and resiliency;
  • enable global competition;
  • serve as building blocks for further innovation; and
  • contribute to the creation of global communities, benefiting humanity.

4. Availability

Standards specifications are made accessible to all for implementation and deployment. Affirming standards organizations have defined procedures to develop specifications that can be implemented under fair terms. Given market diversity, fair terms may vary from royalty-free to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND).

5. Voluntary Adoption

Standards are voluntarily adopted and success is determined by the market.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.
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