ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Globalization is Approach of Choice for ICT Standardization Community

New York, Nov 05, 2002

In a September 22, 2002 New York Times article by Thomas L. Friedman, "globalization" was analyzed and determined to be alive and well - not at its end as predicted by some theorists in the post-9/11 anti-globalization movement. The article cited India as an example of a nation that had opened its economy to trade in goods and services as a mechanism to lift their people out of abject poverty. India's solution was derived from its ability to capitalize on the high-tech hub of Bangalore that enabled hundreds of thousands of young Indians to improve their class status thanks to globalization within the information technology industry.

According to the Information Technology Industry Council *(ITI), a trade association representing U.S. providers of information technology products and services, computers and other information technologies (IT) play an equally vital role in the U.S. economy. The ITI website notes that the IT sector comprises approximately eight percent (8%) of the U.S. economy as a whole, nearly 30 percent (30%) of real growth in Gross Domestic Product2 and accounts for more than 29% percent of all U.S. exports, making IT the nation's single largest exporting sector.

Since 1987, responsibility for the development and coordination of voluntary consensus standards within the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission structure has fallen to the Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology (ISO/IEC JTC 1).

"JTC 1 is a comprehensive standardization committee focused on addressing the needs of the global IT community," explained Lisa Rajchel, JTC 1 Secretariat and ANSI director of international standards. "The committees of JTC 1 have developed hundreds of infrastructure standards that serve as essential building blocks for the implementation of other technologies."

"This committee plays a critical role in the development of better and more consistent IT standards for business and consumer applications - with less overlap and less duplication," added Scott Jameson, JTC 1 chairman and director of standards strategy at Hewlett-Packard Company.

"JTC 1's strength comes from its scope, which allows for synergy among diverse areas of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) standardization. With the increasing demand for standardization due to the convergence of ICT in the marketplace, a group that can take advantage of common goals rather than compete for resources is more necessary than ever.

"We can provide unique abilities in systems integration and coordination within the framework of standardization that will empower the ICT industry worldwide" Jameson continued.

His comments came following a plenary meeting of JTC 1 held in Sophia Antipolis, France on October 21-25, 2002. At this meeting, committee members completed a yearlong self-assessment of the group's value proposition and an examination of its future goals and needs.

According to Ms. Rajchel, committee members recognized that no single organization or model for standards development and specifications would be sufficient to meet the needs of all affected bodies for technical standardization. As a result, the committee has developed new mechanisms to support and adopt work done in other forums, including consortia and other standards developers, that are relevant and important to JTC 1 standardization and to the overall ICT infrastructure.

This action mirrors recommendations made by ISO President-elect, Oliver R. Smoot, to members of the Standards Engineering Society in an August 2002 address: "It is the users of standards - companies, government agencies, public interest organizations and talented individuals - who understand what is needed in their sector; standards developers must respond to meet those customers' needs. . . . This standards development [model] can only work well if users in turn educate standards organizations about their needs. This approach allows for efficient standards development and fosters innovation and competition, while recognizing that there is no simple recipe that can be handed down to fit all needs."

How does JTC 1's recent efforts relate back to Tom Friedman's article cited above? JTC 1 standards are globally recognized, provide global interoperability, and provide sustained development and retention of investment. The committee's standards are widely implemented; for example, nearly 40 of its standards for magnetic tape encoding cover nearly 90% of the market and represent an annual turnover of billions of U.S. dollars. Thus, nations and industry sectors that come at globalization with the right mindset - including the right organizations and governance for standards-setting - can get the best out of it and cushion the worst. Second, countries and industry sectors that are globalizing sensibly but steadily are also the ones that create new opportunities for their people and their economies.

"JTC 1 has undertaken the task of positioning itself so that it can address new areas in a timely, efficient and value-added way while maintaining required standards activities," said Jameson. "With its new pro-active mindset, JTC 1 is ahead of the curve in being able to provide a single forum where a wide array of technologies can be integrated into serviceable standards."

*ITI is an ANSI member and serves as administrator for the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and as secretariat fpr the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), an ANSI-accredited standards committee.

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