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.
That is why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and a group of partnering organizations have launched Standards Boost Business (SBB), a campaign to help American companies leverage standards and conformance to cut costs and boost their bottom line.
More than 80 percent of global commodity trade is impacted by standards and conformance – that’s more than 13 trillion dollars each year. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see why companies that participate actively in standardization gain a competitive edge.
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 here at home.
American manufacturers are missing out in the export market when they do not take advantage of the economic and strategic value of standardization. Ninety-seven percent of companies that export are small and mid-sized enterprises, and yet the majority of these businesses export to only one or two countries, leaving vast opportunities uncovered. With 95 percent of the world's consumers outside the United States, we need to grow our exports to grow our economy.
Innovation is based on technology and product development, but it is also about 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 and lower overall R&D costs, shortening the cycle between initial concept and global market access.
There are three important messages members of Congress can take to their constituents to support economic growth and job creation in their districts:
1) Participate in standards development activities, both domestic and international – Participation enables a company to exert influence on technical content and align its products and services with changing market demand. It provides insiders’ knowledge and early access to information on emerging issues.
2) Rely on standards to design your products and services, and turn to recognized conformity assessment systems to test, inspect, certify, and accredit them – Demonstrating compliance to standards helps a company’s products, services, and personnel to cross borders, and makes 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.
Standards and conformance are essential to a sound national economy and global commerce. And at a time when the public and private sectors are looking to foster economic growth and create good jobs for the future, it is more important than ever that Congress and U.S. companies understand and harness the power of standardization.
Together we can foster innovation, drive business growth, and advance U.S. competitiveness on the global stage. Visit www.standardsboostbusiness.org and get involved in standardization today.
Bhatia is president and CEO of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and has more than 30 years of leadership experience in global business operations.