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The Momentum of Open Standards - a Pragmatic Approach to Software Interoperability

Publication Date: 31 October 2008
1217 visits
Topic: High Impact Services with Pan-European Scope, Interoperability, Open Source
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Software is increasingly embedded in society. Fewer and fewer solutions are stand-alone, hence interoperability amongst software from different vendors is crucial to governments, industry and the third sector. However, our research shows that achieving wide implementation does not only depend on the openness of the process, but also on the willingness to negotiate and achieve a compromise. We document the momentum of open standards in all sectors of society as illustrated by government policies, procurement and business practices and impacts on efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery and business operations. Open standards achieve increasing momentum because standard setting actors - companies, governments, and consumers - are shifting from a dogmatic to a pragmatic perspective - from adherence to strict principles, to commitment to a path towards openness.

While software preference mandates can have effect in specific instances such as document formats, openness generally cannot be declared and introduced by decree. Open standards are the best way to software interoperability, especially when available royalty free.

The European public sector has a leadership position and, consequently, public authorities started implementing the specific elements on openness and interoperability into the respective policies. This is good and important, it should be taken up by more public authorities in Europe and in a combined and coordinated way. After all, requiring openness and interoperability means nothing less but walk the talk.

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