As business managers for electronic firms across America seek sustainable economic growth for their companies and for this country, they are becoming more aware of a powerful business tool that can help drive growth. It is a tool that can tap into new and expanding technologies, can help cut costs, boost a company's bottom line, and help electronic firms compete in a global marketplace. The tool is standardization, and there has never been a more crucial time for American businesses to leverage standards and conformance activities to gain a powerful advantage in the global marketplace.
Standards have the power to turbo-charge innovation and fuel business growth. From design and manufacturing to distribution and marketing, all products and services are affected at some point by standardization. But standards and conformance also impact the strength of the American workforce, inform the direction of innovation, and underpin global commerce.
Standards Boost Business
Quite simply, standards can be good for business. That is why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI, www.ansi.org) and a group of partnering organizations have joined forces to launch Standards Boost Business (SBB), a campaign to help American companies leverage standards and conformance to build a trade advantage in the global market. The SSB campaign is aimed at helping corporate executives and senior public policy officials understand the strategic and economic value of standards, both to a company and to the national business outlook.
More than 80 percent of global commodity trade is impacted by standards and conformance; that amounts to more than 14 trillion dollars each year. With such numbers, it is easy to understand why companies that participate actively in standardization gain a competitive edge. Case studies and testimonial articles posted at the SBB website at www.StandardsBoostBusiness.org provide real-world examples of how U.S-based businesses are leveraging standards to their advantage. Examples include how the U.S. Department of Defense is projecting $789 million in cost avoidance through standardization, and how Dominion Resources (www.dom.com), one of the U.S.'s largest producers and transporters of energy, has saved millions of dollars, increased efficiencies, and improved safety measures. A gallery of videos from executives at such major firms as Hubbell Incorporated (www.hubbell.com), NEMA (www.nema.org), and Eaton Corporation (www.eaton.com) offers first-hand accounts on how standardization has fostered the success and growth of their businesses by streamlining processes, trimming costs, gaining market access, and boosting their bottom lines.
For example, the Boeing Company has stated that managing the business of standards helps avoid the heavy start up and recovery costs to repair or replace an (internal) standards system, helps prevent costs incurred through incorrect or outdated standards, and allows standards to more readily function as enablers for other major business processes.
As the technical underpinning of many products and services, standards play a critical role in removing barriers to trade, enforcing free trade agreements, and expanding foreign markets for U.S. goods and services. This results in increased export opportunities for U.S. companies abroad, which in turn helps create more jobs within the U. S.
American manufacturers, particularly small-to-medium-sized enterprises, should be aware of opportunities they are missing in the export market when they do not take advantage of the economic and strategic values of standardization. Most companies that export their goods (about 97 percent) are small-to-medium-sized businesses. Yet, the majority of these companies export to only one or two countries, leaving vast opportunities uncovered. With 95 percent of the world's consumers outside the U. S., businesses within the U. S. need to grow their exports in order to grow the U.S.'s economy. The greatest opportunities for growth are in other parts of the world, and it is imperative that U.S. companies find new customers in these markets
Innovation requires technology and product development, but it also involves reinventing business processes and building new markets that meet untapped customer needs. Standards and compliance programs are being actively leveraged by U.S. companies and industries to foster innovation in the marketplace, shortening the cycle between the development of an initial concept and access to a global market. The groups that are maximizing standardization activities have already realized that relying on previously standardized technologies, systems, and terminologies helps lower overall R&D costs.
In today's global marketplace, a company needs every advantage possible to succeed. Four basic steps can help a company to improve their position in global markets and reap the rewards standards and conformance can provide.
1. Participate in standards development activities, both domestic and international. Participating in standards development enables a company to influence the technical content of the standard and align its products and services with changing market demands. It provides a company with an insider's knowledge and early access to information on emerging issues, and helps reduce redundancy while minimizing errors in product development and shortening time to market.
2. Rely on standards to design products and services, and use established conformity assessment systems, to test, inspect, certify, and accredit the new products and services. Demonstrating compliance to standards helps a company's products, services, and personnel to cross borders. Standards also make cross-border interoperability possible, ensuring that products manufactured in one country can be sold and used in another.
3. Treat standardization as a strategic business tool. Standards and conformance are critical business tools that should be managed alongside an organization's quality, safety, and environmental policies. They should be considered as tools that are essential to the long-term health of a business.
4. A resource commitment, of time, money, and manpower, must be made to the U. S. standardization system. Numerous free-of-charge resources are available at the SBB website at www.StandardsBoostBusiness.org
A Path Forward
Standards and conformance are essential to a sound national economy and solid global commerce. At a time when both public and private sectors seek to foster economic growth and create good jobs for the future, it is critical that U.S. companies understand and harness the power of standardization helping to drive business growth while advancing U. S. competitiveness on a global stage.
Contact: American National Standards Institute, Customer Service Dept., 25 West 43rd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10036 212-642-4980 fax: 212-302-1286 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.ansi.org or http://www.standardsboostbusiness.com