Author: Andrew Updegrove

The Essential Guide is a book-length handbook for anyone who wants to understand standards and standards development from a hands-on perspective. If you participate in the standards development process or are a member of the management of a standard setting organization, contact us if you have questions about this topic.

1.  What (and Why) is an SSO?

The purpose of this paper is to outline the motivations behind the growth of alliances as a means of advancing the goals and objectives of individual organizations/companies, especially those working in technology markets. It is hoped that what follows will assist the innovator or entrepreneur who is struggling with how to bring new technologies to the market. Alliance participation is a valuable tool to help these leaders achieve their vision. This paper examines the motivations behind the use of alliances as a means for organizations of all kinds to promote and realize their goals and objectives.

Summary: The first standards development organizations were formed more than 100 years ago. For the next seventy years, the formation of additional organizations followed an evolutionary course that regularized the process of developing standards, and culminated in the existence of an international infrastructure comprising hundreds of formally recognized, national standards organizations, as well as a much smaller number of global organizations, each with its own recognized area of acknowledged expertise. Beginning in the 1980s, however, new industries based upon computer technologies grew increasingly restive under this formal system, and began to form new organizations most often referred to as “consortia.” These organizations were typically more narrowly focused than the “de jure” bodies, but at the same time were international rather than national in their membership. This variance was appropriate, because the standards that the new consortia were formed to create were intended for global rather than national implementation, and also because the companies that launched these new organizations were themselves multinational in their operations. As time has passed, these consortia have become very numerous, numbering in the many hundreds, with more being formed on a weekly basis. Today, they dominate standards development in the information, and to a lesser extent, the communications technology industries. Most recently, similar organizations have begun to be formed in other industries as well. This article is part of the Essential Guide to Standards.

2. Participating In Standard Setting Organizations: Value Propositions, Roles And Strategies

Summary: Today there are more information and communications technology standard setting organizations (SSOs) than even the largest corporations could afford to join. The effectiveness, speed, stability and reputation of these organizations vary widely, as does their suitability for a given purpose. Any prospective member of an SSO therefore needs to make intelligent choices as among the various SSOs that are relevant to its business, in order to spend its resources wisely in pursuit of the achievement of its goals. In this article I explain the different types of value that a potential member can find within various types of SSO; provide a framework within which such an entity can define its goals, and offer guidelines to be used in evaluating whether a given SSO is appropriate to join, with a special emphasis on those SSOs that serve the needs of the ICT industry. This article is part of the Essential Guide to Standards. In particular, you may wish to read the second part of this article, titled Participating in SSOs Part II: Getting the Most from Your Membership.

3.  Getting the Most from Your Membership

Summary: Whether or not the nominal membership dues of a given standard setting organization (SSO) are significant, participation can be expensive, once employee time and travel costs are factored into the equation. At the same time, the rewards that can be reaped from participation can be very significant, greatly exceeding the fully burdened costs of membership. In order to reap such benefits, however, a member must define the goals it wishes to achieve from participation, understand how SSOs operate, carefully select and instruct its representatives, and then methodically follow through on a carefully considered program of participation. Given that large international corporations commonly join from 50 to several hundred SSOs, both the costs as well as the benefits of such participation can therefore be very great. This article describes how such a company (or any other member of the standards ecosystem) can create an internal program to ensure that it maximizes the value that it can gain from being an active participant in the standards development process. This article is part of the Essential Guide to Standards. In particular, you may wish to read the first part of this article, titled Participating in SSOs Part I: Value Propositions, Roles and Strategies.