The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in conjunction with the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) – a partnership comprising the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – and the U.S. Library of Congress, hosted a roundtable meeting examining issues related to standards and innovation on June 26 –27, 2013, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The event, titled The Role of Standardization in Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, brought together international standards professionals, academics, representatives of government agencies and industry, and other stakeholders to discuss ways to promote dialogue and collaboration between standards organizations and colleges and universities, among other related issues.
In his opening remarks to the roundtable, ANSI president and CEO S. Joe Bhatia stressed how awareness of standards can have significant benefits both for individual companies and organizations, as well as for the world economy as a whole. “More than half of America’s economic growth comes from industries that barely existed twenty years ago. As those sectors continue to develop, they offer the greatest promise for job creation and market expansion that can support our next generation. But their success depends upon continued innovation,” Mr. Bhatia said. “It’s a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding that allows for creative innovation to grow. And standards provide that foundation.” Attendees also heard opening remarks from Rob Steele, ISO’s current secretary-general, and Robert Dizard, Jr., deputy librarian of Congress.
During the roundtable’s first session, “Standards and Innovation,” Soumitra Dutta, dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, led an examination of how standards can play an essential role in boosting productivity and related economic growth by promoting innovation. Attendees heard presentations from Dr. Jens Albers, CEO of Germany’s Nanotron Technologies Ltd., on how Nanotron’s technological innovations have benefited from standards, and from Dr. George Arnold, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Standards Coordination Office (SCO), on how standards are influencing the development of Smart Grid technology. In the second session, “Standards, Strategy and Entrepreneurship,” overseen by Dr. Donald Deutsch, vice president and chief standards officer for Oracle Corporation, participants looked at the impact standards have on business strategy and entrepreneurship. This session included presentations from Dr. Jeffrey Strauss of Northwestern University, Dr. Trond Undheim of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Dr. Ramani Narayan of Michigan State University.
In addition to the sessions, participants took part in table-by-table discussions on the central topic, sharing their personal experiences and insights with other attendees. Following the roundtables, event-wide sessions were held to share highlights from the discussions and to consider how these findings could help to encourage increased cooperation between standards developing organizations and academia.
Participants concluded that an increased focus on standardization by institutions of higher education – particularly management schools – was needed in order to convey to students and professors the importance of standards to future economic and societal advancement. Attendees found that material on standards should be integrated into university curricula in a variety of manners, from the addition of standards content to existing courses to the creation of new standards-focused classes, and should be taught in concert with related information on the effects of standards on globalization, trade, business strategy, and other relevant topics. In addition, participants suggested that new outreach to universities by standards bodies, government agencies, and accreditation bodies is needed, and suggested that joint research projects and the creation of standards-related case studies, simulations, and other materials for university use may serve to encourage engagement with standards issues by professors and university administrators.
“In recent years, the private sector has increased its efforts to train the next generation of standardization experts,” Mr. Bhatia told the roundtable’s attendees. “But there is so much more that needs to be done … If we want to remain competitive, we need to get standards in the classroom, we need to do it often, and we need to do it as early as possible in the learning environment.”
The official program is available here. To access presentations and summaries of the roundtable discussions from the event, click here.