On Jan 27th, 2022, CCC brought together a panel of industry experts who presented their perspectives on the challenges faced by standards developers and standards users as they move into a dynamic future. This event was supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program. It was well-attended by representatives from US-based, Canadian, and European standards development organizations as well as knowledge management leaders representing top pharmaceutical companies, global engineering consultancies, and multinational energy firms. All participants had the opportunity, during concurrent breakout sessions, to weigh in with their experiences on various perspectives on the world of standards.

After being introduced by CCC’s own Andrew Robinson, our moderator Jonathan Clark of Jonathan Clark & Partners BV, facilitated the discussion among: 

  • Tatiana Khayrullina, Consulting Partner, Standards and Technical Solutions, Outsell Inc. 
  • Cord Wischhöfer, CEO, DIN Software GmbH
  • Simon Klaris Friberg, Senior Librarian/Information Consultant, Rambøll Danmark A/S 

Note to readers: We will paraphrase and encapsulate the key points made by each speaker in a series of blog posts, of which this is the first.  This link takes you to a recording of the presentation itself. 

Tatiana Khayrullina of Outsell led off with an overview of the role of standards in those 21st century organizations that are deeply involved with R&D efforts.

  • Standards reside in the realm of engineering solutions, which in recent years have undergone transformation as the industries they serve are reshaped by market and technological factors.
  • The factor most widely experienced in these industries is the increasing pace of technological advancement, boosting the speed of product design, which in turn boosts the speed of the R&D process, as well as that of product development.
  • The concepts of “content” and “data” are converging, and new formats (e.g., video, audio) are becoming more dominant. At the same time, reproducible results are becoming more and more important. 

Tatiana next urged upon us that these trends are critically important for engineering solutions vendors and information providers to keep in mind, especially as they work to “future proof” their businesses. First and foremost, these vendors ought to embrace “smart data.” In our time of transition, engineering solutions run the gamut from paper-based all the way to the distributed realm of the nascent metaverse. Leading providers of engineering solutions do recognize these realities. These vendors also recognize that they need to support their customers in the transition to contemporary models that rely more and more on smart and autonomous systems that run on data, such as those utilizing machine learning, all of which we may refer to generally as ”Industry 4.0.” As leading providers of engineering solutions, they aim to support their customers who want to utilize the data that’s available to them in an optimal way. And this includes both internally and externally sourced data —and thus, including standards.

Success for these leading providers depends on finding an optimal way of utilizing the data and matching the level of technological maturity of their customer companies. Because they’re each at a different phase of transition to Industry 4.0, optimizing data for some companies could mean eliminating unnecessary internal silos, while for other companies, it could mean incorporating the next generation of smart standards in their engineering pipelines.

Engineering solutions content vendors, including some standards vendors, have seen an advantage to staying highly flexible with regard to formats (e.g. paper, or PDF and XML). Essentially, they’re allowing their customers to take content further down the line in workflow and incorporate that content in whatever shape they require.

Content vendors, meanwhile, are finding new opportunities to provide solutions to address specific market needs for specific customers in collaboration with leading software vendors.  We have also observed a growing trend of pure play software vendors showing an interest in incorporating content-based solutions into their portfolios. This development is not very large right now, but it fuels an appetite for merging workflow and content.

Targeting engineers as an audience is challenging since it is a highly fragmented market. Historically, the way to address this was to create a collection vast enough to satisfy the plurality of the organization’s needs. With the new users coming on the scene —new users accustomed to a more sophisticated delivery of digital content—this may not work any longer, so the market is developing an appetite for more curated and more focused collections.

The gap between the data needs of users and the capabilities of content providers is widening. This discrepancy has existed for a while; in order to address it, leading enterprises have created in-house solutions. And for many of them, this is just part of their R&D process; this is the way they create their IP. Cybersecurity concerns also prompt leading enterprises to create homegrown data solutions as a result. Finally, the growing volume of publicly available data and information also allows users to fill that gap.

The next post in this short series will focus on the remarks of Cord Wischhöfer, (CEO DIN Software GmbH) on the “Maturity Levels of Standards Adoption” and conclude with the perspectives of Simon Klaris Friberg (Senior Librarian/Information Consultant, Rambøll Danmark A/S) on the role of standards from the users’ side. 


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Author: Dave Davis

Dave Davis joined CCC in 1994 and currently serves as research analyst. He previously held directorships in both public libraries and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. Dave is fascinated by copyright issues, content licensing and data. Also, rock and roll music.
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