The Importance of Standards


ardeenArden Bement is a former director of both the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation. Before joining the xDTM Standard Association Board, he spent 20 years as a professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue University. In this blog he shares his expertise on the importance of standards.

How have standards bodies made an impact in the past?
Standards have had an impact on almost every commercial, manufacturing, and government operation. In relation to the xDTM Standard, the Internet, World Wide Web, data processing, and networking technologies are based on standards. Standards provide a handshake among all involved in a transaction chain. They provide a common reference and understanding for conducting trade.

Why did you decide to join the xDTM Standard Association board, and what impact do you hope to make on this group?
In my varied career I’ve seen standards at work in many different settings: in industry, academia, and government. I hope I can bring some of that experience to bear on the development of the xDTM Standard.

Describe the experience of working with the xDTM Governing Board.
All of us on the Board feel that we’re breaking new ground. We feel a lot of energy, dynamics, and interest associated with this initiative. We have all experienced compressing transaction time scales and frustrations with paper transactions. Because of the growing imperative for digital transactions we see ourselves as pioneers in developing this standard.

Why establish a standard for DTM?
The reason for the standard is that we’re living in an era of growing Internet vulnerability, both from security and vulnerability points of view. Therefore, one needs a standard that’s based on strict encryption, privacy, commonality of terms, as well as availability and universal accessibility to carry on world trade and commerce.

What is the risk if there are no standards around digital transactions?
The risk of not having a standard for digital transactions is that there would otherwise be no means of reliably and securely conducting transactions in digital format around the globe. Because of the rapid pace of the business world there isn’t time for mistakes and misunderstandings in untrusted transaction systems. Operating in such a system is not affordable. For example, take the case of a company that’s far down in the supply chain, that has to respond to 100 different companies with a plethora of different ways of doing business in different formats. Without succeeding in standardization they would soon be out of business.

What do you think the future is for standards in general?
The future of standards is a bright one because of the accelerating growth and increasing complexity of technology. If current trends continue one can also expect increasing challenges with the security and privacy of expanding data stores. The need for a global Internet, which is much more secured and trusted than it is today, is abundantly apparent. Coping with massive data stores to extract valuable data and knowledge transferred in the course of conducting business will be an ongoing challenge for the xDTM Standards community.


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