In early May, CCC hosted “Workflow of the Future: Sustainable Business Models,” the fifth event in a series designed to help facilitate important conversations on critical topics related to standards, including sustainability.

Moderated by Jonathan Clark, the panel featured highly experienced leaders in the standards development organization (SDO) community, including Joan O’Neil, Chief Knowledge Officer of ICC; Hans Arne Rykkelid, CEO of Standards Digital AS; Leslie McKay, Senior Manager of Digital and Information Products at SAE International; Silona Bonewald, Executive Director at IEEE SA OPEN; Simon Powell, Director of Product at BSI; and Ivan Salcedo, Director at Quix Innovation Services.

With a wide set of perspectives on what constitutes business models and standards, these experts shared their individual views on how to best support new user demands for more efficient and effective ways of working with standards while providing insight into innovative, sustainable solutions that work for everyone. The conversation was timely, especially as the standards sector undergoes massive digital transformation and new business models continue to emerge.

To kick off the conversation, our panelists touched on the challenges each has experienced within their organizations around delivering standards to customers in XML format and the opportunities they see as a result.

Hans Arne shared that while Standards Digital AS is not currently distributing XML to customers directly, the organization is planning to launch an updated platform to enable software integrators to ingest data sets and other types of codified information more easily through an improved subscription model and API approach. The organization is supporting an interactive HTML reading experience pulled directly from the XML format to improve searchability and filtering. No matter the vehicle, Hans Arne stressed the importance of ensuring granular content is understood in the context in which it is written and as part of the whole. He discussed an innovative triangular subscription model to help avoid legal implications of misuse.

Joan explained ICC is investing heavily in an internal initiative to structure all commercial content in a uniform manner. The program will enable ICC to create content in XML without the need to go through a conversion process. This brings advantages to both the SDO and the customer – for the SDO, this provides the capability to publish content more quickly and cost effectively, while the customer benefits from a more precise, granular-level search function. In addition to internal infrastructure updates, Joan continued to express that better tagging improves search capabilities: 

“For standards content, one of the most valuable features we can deliver is that granular tagging for ease of search. [Customers] want to get to the answer very quickly. They want to reference that piece of content, whatever workflow they’re in.” – Joan O’Neil

Simon provided perspective from BSI, in which most of the content they publish is shared IP from others in the standards ecosystem. Given this environment, a majority of BSI’s distribution is conducted through  PDFs, which is considered to be the version of record. Simon noted that BSI is currently looking into partnership opportunities to provide fragments of content or metadata to support pilots in an effort to deliver better value to the end user.

Leslie discussed how the output of digital standards needs to be highly interoperable to communicate with different types of systems. This includes requirements tracking systems, model-based systems, engineering systems, manufacturing systems, and more. When taken out of context, embedded XML may not be very readable; striking a balance between output that is human- and machine-readable is necessary to achieve a full digital standard. In addition to the output format, Leslie noted that establishing definitions for different groups of standards is an important step to ensure they are interpreted in the same way as they become digitized.

As a self-described disruptor, Silona shared her views on SDOs’ continued dependence on publishing as the primary business model needs to change and why, as a result, her organization is experimenting with other revenue streams. 

“I like to think of it as I’ve got a big bowl of business revenue streams spaghetti that I periodically throw to the wall to see which is going to stick and how it’s going to stick.” – Silona Bonewald

To close out the conversation, Ivan provided an insightful summary of key trends driving sustainable business models.

For the full conversation, you can watch the session here. Discover how CCC can complement and extend revenue opportunities for SDOs and organizations that use standards here. 


Author: Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson has been a Principal Consultant with CCC since 2012. He has helped clients make informed investment decisions for significant content management system implementations. He has worked with the delivery of content and information systems for over 30 years including in senior roles in publishing and related industries in UK, Europe, USA and South East Asia across multiple domains including food research, trade magazines and directories, defence, Standards, and shipping.
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