A standard denotes something that is of both the expected quality and the norm. To maintain such a status, standards must be adapted continuously to maintain their relevance and accommodate all groups that could benefit from their use. Recent trends in globalization have presented a major challenge for fulfilling this requirement in international voluntary consensus standards, but addressing them allows for a far greater spread and applicability of their use.
While globalization often is considered a recent phenomenon, its influence has been felt throughout history. Whenever there has been widespread trade between different regions, globalization has been in effect. The key characteristics of this process are the interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments of different nations, which are driven by international trade and investment.
As a result, there are alterations in culture, political systems, and economies throughout the world. At the center of all globalization is technology. Globalization was possible back during the days of the Silk Road because of the establishment of expansive horse-based routes. Today, the advancement in the Internet and computer technology and their usage in different industries has put globalization on the rise, making communication between two people in the world possible in ways that it never has in the past. This has granted new tools for understanding economic opportunities.
In this changing world, the major players in the global marketplace vary, and voluntary consensus standards must be written to be accessible for all parties involved. This can be difficult just from the many different requirements and guidelines present among the different nations. However, truly to be a “standard”, a collection of guidelines should incorporate these variations to facilitate similar use throughout the world.
Similarly, another essential challenge to confront in the drafting of standards is that of cultural differentiation. Since one action or idea can have different meanings between different cultures, it is necessary to use language and include specifications that have the same meaning internationally. We discussed a basic example of this in our post on Gesture Based Interfaces, or interfaces that use a variety of commands as alternative input methods.
The ISO/IEC 30113-1:2015: Information technology – User interface – Gesture-based interfaces across devices and methods – Part 1: Framework standard addresses the idea of a head nod as an input method for a computer interface. In the United States and some other nations, people nod to indicate “yes” but shake their head to indicate “no”. However, in Bulgaria, a nod means “no” while a head shake indicates “yes”. As an international standard, the document prepares any compliant organizations with this understanding so that they can navigate the global marketplace without any ignorance of their consumers.
It is estimated that standards directly affect at least eighty percent of international trade. Efforts made in response to globalization extend this trade to developing nations and emerging markets throughout the world, increasing competitiveness to places that may not have seen it otherwise.
For example, ISO 9001 has been established as the globally accepted standard for providing assurance on the quality of goods and services in supplier-customer relations. Millions of organizations throughout different continents have undergone ISO 9001:2015 certification, assuring that they all possess reliable quality management practices.
In addition, widespread compliance and certification to the guidelines of certain international standards can confirm the relevancy of certain issues worldwide. A good example of this is the environment, and the growing ISO 14001:2015 certification of international organizations demonstrates a common desire to meet environmental management guidelines.
However, while the inclusion of so many global considerations is integral to the success of international standards and compliant organizations, it is still important for national standards to be especially relevant to the area in which they are located. Just as international standards should be written to include the different users worldwide, national standards should consider the organizations in their local country in their scope.