Most know what a standard is by definition, but many come up short when trying to explain the importance standards’ development plays in the success or failure of a business, marketplace or industry. The word ‘standard’ can have diverse meanings, depending on how and when it is used.
Official standards are sanctioned by an accredited standards body, such as ISO (International Organizations for Standardization) or ANSI (American National Standards Institute), de facto standards describe guidelines established by certain authorities for the purpose of a common use (think Microsoft Office) and ad hoc standards are consist of widely used methods or procedures adopted by mutual agreement.
In the world of technology, standards also pertain to both how technology works and how it is used. Technology standards deal with the nuts-and-bolts of how things work. In radio frequency identification (RFID) for instance, technical specifications cover issues such as frequency, data transfer and communications protocols. They do not cover how the technology is used, only how it works.
Application standards, on the other hand, define how a technology is used not how it works. Application standards cover data content, structure and syntax. They typically point to a technical specification and may define a subset of it to limit how a specific technology will be used to carry or represent the data. Additional guidance, such as placement, durability and so forth is also generally included.
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