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Open standards: Why are more industries embracing them?
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Open standards: Why are more industries embracing them?

Posted by Zenobia HegdeSeptember 13, 2017

Many enterprises and their industries are urgently addressing the need to implement digital and global business models. Increasingly those industries are looking to effectively develop and use open standards to accelerate towards these goals.

Standards, frameworks, reference architectures and best practices can all help to provide the foundations for enterprises to innovate in new ways and successfully navigate the social and economic changes that are being forced upon them.

More enterprises are engaging with consortiums to lead the creation of solutions to the challenges facing their industry. These systemic problems are unrelated to a single organisation and cannot or should not be solved alone without openly engaging both rivals and partners. In these circumstances, it’s more practical to develop and use common frameworks to create something of fundamental and intrinsic mutual benefit, says Chris Forde, VP, Enterprise Architecture & general manager, Asia Pacific Region, The Open Group.

This view may be completely opposed to how organisations have traditionally operated. How can a company justify assigning its own human resources to work with its competition when there are risks associated with anti-trust, intellectual property and undermining their own long-term success?

Co-opetition and its value

Organisations must embrace working with all types of industry peers to create common assets that can be used across the industry to add value to individual businesses. But not all enterprises or industries are used to the type of ‘co-opetition’ that has manifested in the technology industry for years. This industry has historically led the way for companies to partner with their competition in order to create new solutions in one area, whilst they may have directly competing products in another.

Additionally, co-opetition has long been the norm for those using open standards, for companies that come together to work toward a common goal of creating results that are open, freely available and that provide business value to their own enterprise and for the industry. They differentiate themselves in other ways and have the opportunity to further their own business interests, not to undermine them.

Enterprise Architecture: a case in point

Most often what is distilled from open standards is intrinsic business and technical value, and one example of this is in the practice of Enterprise Architecture. One of the assets produced from an architected approach to solving business problems is a Reference Architecture (RA). Reference Architecture may be easy to dismiss or overlook, but most of the leading global companies are developing Reference Architectures and monetising them. The big difference, of course, is that they brand them with a different name.

Companies can even buy services based on the existence of these architectures on the internet and use the realisation of these services to run their own business and information technology functions. Overall, frameworks, methods, and RA’s contain intrinsic value, but they have to be used effectively to realise that value.

Openness and innovation

This is why an increasing number of companies and vertical industries are turning to open standards for help. In a global economy, companies need to balance proprietary interests and security with an increased need for interoperability within their own ecosystems of customers, partners, suppliers, etc. But they also need to realise that the digital problems they need to solve are far too complex to handle on their own. Therefore, the help of others is essential create assets that will work for themselves and those with similar needs and interests.

Innovation comes in many forms and sometimes from unexpected circumstances. Standards, frameworks, reference architectures and best practices can all help to provide the foundations for enterprises to innovate in new ways. In the coming months and years we expect to see more vertical industries turning to standards development, such as commercial aviation, financial services and government. As organisations continue to grapple with digital complexity, interoperability and the need for constant innovation this will be key to their development.

The author of this blog is Chris Forde, VP, Enterprise Architecture & general manager, Asia Pacific Region, The Open Group

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Zenobia Hegde

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