In an effort to directly engage leading corporate executives on why investment in standardization is important, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) hosted a roundtable on May 22, 2018, in Washington, DC.
The event was an outcome of an August 2017 meeting between ANSI leadership and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, where the importance of standards to U.S. innovation and competitiveness was a key topic of discussion.
The roundtable was an invitation-only event with a limited number of participants so that everyone would have an opportunity to take an active part in the discussion. Executives from 10 companies with global operations participated in the event, representing a range of industry sectors, including electrical power, heavy equipment, the built environment, advanced manufacturing, glass/optical, information technologies, and services. Commerce Department representatives participating included Dr. Walter Copan, Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Nazak Nikakhtar, Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis in the International Trade Administration.
Following introductory remarks from Joe Bhatia, ANSI's president and CEO, and Dr. Copan, the participants focused on two sets of discussion questions. The first covered the importance of investment in standards activities and measuring the return on that investment. And the second set addressed a long-term vision for the success of the U.S. standardization, both domestically and internationally. Finally, participants were asked to offer their recommendations on what ANSI can do to support increased corporate investment and engagement.
Across the board, participants agreed that standards help build markets and are a tool for innovation. Because emerging technologies are increasingly interdisciplinary, the traditional lines between engineering and IT - or products and services - are blurred. This drives the need for new collaboration mechanisms across standards developing organizations (SDOs).
Attendees felt that globally recognized standards remain critically important, both in lieu of regulation and in advance of regulatory action. Maintaining U.S. leadership in standardization, particularly in new technology areas, is key - attendees called for sustained investment in terms of funding, manpower, and participation by both the public and private sectors to make that leadership possible.
The participants' recommendations for ANSI included:
-Raise awareness among government policy/decision makers of the critical value of market-led standardization.
-Assist with scaling young professionals programs and other efforts to counter the greying of the standards community.
-In cooperation with NIST, advance actionable items within the public-private partnership framework.
-Continue to work with the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to advance ANSI members' trade-related interests.
"In the room today we're lucky to have executives from some of the most innovative companies that are leading the way in their commitment to the global standards system, and gaining the most strategic benefit from their engagement," said Mr. Bhatia. "Your shared experiences will go a very long way in helping ANSI define new strategies for engaging corporate leaders, and strengthening the voluntary standardization system for the benefit of U.S. companies, industry, and the nation as a whole."