How information technology (IT) can make the development of ISO standards "simpler, faster and better" was the subject of the first IT Forum organized by ISO, the world's largest developer of voluntary International Standards (nearly 19 000), for its worldwide membership of national standards institutes.
The three-day event (29 November-1 December 2011) attracted more than 80 participants and experts from 35 countries who discussed IT's contribution to achieving ISO’s strategic objectives. They also discussed:
- IT-related trends that raise new paradigms or opportunities for standards organizations to consider as the ISO community concentrates on its customers, products and processes
- How to understand better the IT tools and services that ISO offers, how they affect current projects and will provide improved assistance to customers,creating new standardization products and contributing to shorter development times.
David Ratcliffe, ISO Director of Information Technology and Electronic Services, and Pekka Järvinen, Chairman of the ISO IT Advisory Group, opened the forum. They highlighted the importance of communication and the exchange of experience within the ISO community to make ISO members more aware of the benefits of ongoing IT projects and to encourage them to incorporate ISO's IT innovations into their own work.
Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General, explained the links between IT and the seven key objectives of the ISO Strategic Plan 2011-2015. "Without IT", he said, "how could ISO develop and deliver standards in the short timeframes needed by customers?"
He pointed out that 32 new ISO technical groups had been established since 2005, underlining both the need for new standards and the requirement to develop them with a process that is simpler, faster and better.
Keynote speaker, Marc Prensky, a writer and speaker on training and education, offered the participants some new perspectives on, “Communicating standards to 21st century audiences”. "We have moved into a new context of accelerating change and the change is going to come incredibly quickly", he said, citing the example of young people who have adapted to technology by becoming more mobile. ”Today, the issue is less the way we communicate and how we communicate collective world wisdom to the 21st century audience, ” he said, urging ISO to make an increased use of social media and video to interact with its audience.
The forum highlighted how ISO's IT department supports the ISO Strategic Plan. By providing a platform and services to realize ISO's global vision for 2015, ISO will become the world’s leading provider of high-quality, globally relevant International Standards through its members and stakeholders.
David Ratcliffe described the services provided by ISO's IT department today, and the future trends at the international, national and regional levels. An important role is to make sure information can be exchanged more efficiently.
In terms of need, customers want to have easier access to information, workflow integration, flexibility, mobility. In such an evolving IT world, new trends appear such as tablets, social media, mobile and cloud computing. These need to be taken into account if ISO is to stay in the race to meet customers’ growing needs.
Nicolas Fleury, ISO Director of Marketing, Communication and Information, spoke on the strategic aspects and put ISO’s XML project into context:" In terms of trends," he said, " we clearly see an increased use of mobile devices. For example, in 2011 there is a growth of 188 % of the visitors coming to the ISO Website using smartphones and tablets.
“XML is the key to answer the new challenges ISO has to face in its role as a publisher. That is why ISO Council gave high priority to the implementation of an ISO publishing system based on XML. The technology should enable the advanced customized exploitation of the content of ISO standards, and the development by ISO members and ISO Central Secretariat of services able to answer existing and future needs of customers. We have begun the conversion of the entire catalogue of ISO standards to XML format."
Kevin McKinley, ISO Deputy Secretary-General, and Trevor Vyze, ISO Director Standard Development Department, gave an update on the Living Lab project whose purpose is to build an environment to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a reduced end-to-end ISO standards development process.
The standardization process is currently perceived as too slow and complex and ISO, therefore, needs to have simpler, faster and better processes. Currently, these elements are being tested in the Living Lab to identify what works and what does not.
Parallel sessions allowed participants to discover more about ISO and IT, including topics such as:
- Using IT to facilitate public commenting on standards under development, and increase the transparency and openness of ISO’s processes
- Using IT to facilitate collaboration between the experts who develop ISO’s standards.