This is the second of two articles in which we look at the opportunities presented by open standards for the technology community, corporations, and software vendors and suppliers. Open standards provide an approach in which everyone can benefit; new technologies allow for flexibility and choice.
Why Do We Need Open Standards?
For more than fifty years, the information technology (IT) industry has been a catalyst for global growth and opportunity. The dynamic effects on all types of industries, commerce, and throughout society have been astonishing. The global market for all IT products surpassed $1 trillion in 2002 and continues with projections to $1.4 trillion by 2005, despite economic uncertainty. The IT industry has generated millions of highly skilled workers worldwide who are paid above-average salaries and are able to contribute to better standards of living and stable societies. Millions of jobs have been created in related industries such as services, support, and training. In the United States, for example, nearly 11 million people are employed in IT. Nearly 14,000 IT companies employ 50 or more employees. The United States is the world leader in IT, representing more than 45% of global IT spending.
The IT industry can be classified as a transformation technology because it affects economic and social systems dramatically. IT is frequently compared to earlier transformative technologies such as electricity, the telephone, or the automobile. Analysis of enterprise growth and productivity over the last fifty years has shown accelerated development of almost every industry employing IT products and services. From its earliest beginningsafter World War II, when a small group of newly formed computer companies targeted large enterprises with big, expensive mainframesto today's standard, where millions of cheap and powerful desktop computers work for profit and sophisticated software is universal, IT has brought about monumental changes in all categories of commerce and industry. Add to this scenario the superglue called the Internet, which ties hundreds of millions of these computers and their associated networks and corporations together, allowing information, transactions, and ultimately revenue to flow across global borders 24 hours a day.
Despite these achievements, however, we could be approaching the limits of IT growth. Now we need new triggers to success, such as open standards.