International standards are a key driving force for world commerce. “Standards: big benefits for small business”, the theme for this year’s World Standards Day, recognizes that a significant share of the world’s businesses can be described as small to medium sized.

The leaders of the world’s principal standards developing bodies underline that small business owners not only provide significant impetus to the world’s economy, but also stand to benefit substantially from international standards. “Small business owners and managers are hard-working people, sharply focused on the survival of their enterprises, and international standardization might seem far removed from their practical concerns. However the fact is that international standards developed by ISO, IEC and ITU have facilitated economic developments and the dissemination of technologies that empower small business, as much as their larger counterparts,” the three leaders declare in their joint World Standards Day message.

The three signatories are Mr Renzo Tani, President of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Professor Masami Tanaka, President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

International standards published by the three organizations cover areas as diverse as getting food from farm to kitchen table; raw materials to processing plants and to industrial users; products to distributors and shops and on to consumers; power from generating plants to industry and the home; processes complying with stringent emission standards; messages that pass between telecommunication networks and computer systems. Clearly, in all of these areas small businesses can benefit as much as big business.

In the ICT field, for example, internet-related standards have opened new avenues of revenue for many small businesses. Any business, regardless of size, can now easily have a shop window to the world. In addition, standardization supports digitized manufacturing and quality control processes, product information and financial transactions — forming a basis for partnerships and commerce unconstrained by location.

The three leaders affirm: "International standards developed by ISO, ITU and IEC provide practical solutions to many of the challenges faced by small business in today’s globalizing markets. In so doing, they allow small business owners and managers to further enhance their traditional virtues of hard work, enterprise and close attention to the requirements and satisfaction of their customers."

Together, ITU, IEC and ISO will continue to author the standards that will support and encourage a world economy increasingly shaped by the innovation and determination of small and medium businesses.

World Standards Day 2006