Foresight - how do we recognize innovative standardization topics of the future?


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About the topic

The current age of digitalization and the increasing speed of innovation mean that standards organizations face hitherto unknown challenges. New technologies, often disruptive as well as convergent, present new challenges for politics, the economy and society. Shortening innovation cycles exacerbate the task of adapting the necessary structures, compatibilities and stakeholder networks in time. Standardization facilitates such adaptation and in so doing helps to master new technologies.

Having the foresight to initially recognize these new ideas and become aware of developments and innovations in their field is the first step for standards organizations to be proactive in this regard. The relevant stakeholders, who often have no prior experience with standards, must first be identified along with potential new areas of standardization. The heterogeneity and convergence of new areas make the latter a considerable task: Not every topic is suitable for incorporation in the standardization process no matter when and with every stakeholder, while such conflicts are rarely apparent at the outset.

The relevant stakeholders are often unaware of the importance of standardization and the advantages it brings. The interests of all parties do not always move in the same direction. However, only when it is understood that rules and standards formed through inclusive procedures serve the interests of all can the full benefit of standardization be realized.

Standards organizations must be willing and able to identify issues of the future and incorporate them into standardization, in order to both promote such issues and to remain innovative and future-oriented organizations. An open, receptive attitude is essential when approaching new fields and issues. It is likewise essential to conceive standardization as a driver of innovation and to allocate the necessary processes, resources and capacities as appropriate.