Why standards are important to the global content and language industries

Recent years have witnessed revolutionary changes in the way we create, translate, store, and distribute information. The expansion of global markets and the wide adoption of information technology have led to escalating demands for more and more information in more and more languages. Market research indicates that in several years the translation industry will not be able to meet the market demands for translations. The content authoring industry faces similar challenges and difficulties in finding qualified personnel. Many organizations are turning to technology to find ways to automate processes and increase employee productivity.

In today's global economy, we cannot afford to operate in silos. Technology that works in jurisdiction but nowhere else because international standards were not adopted puts that jurisdiction at a competitive disadvantage. Standards protect manufacturers and technology developers by ensuring that their products and research will be usable worldwide. Furthermore, standards save organizations time and money by avoiding duplication of work and preventing redesign efforts.

Standards are not just important for manufacturing and technology however. Without objective and trusted business quality controls, competition could not be measured. Standards and guidelines can also apply to non-tangibles such as processes, information content, and workflows. These types of standards help to guarantee quality of services for consumers.

International standards such as those produced by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are very useful. “They are useful to industrial and business organizations of all types, to governments and other regulatory bodies, to trade officials, to conformity assessment professionals, to suppliers and customers of products and services in both public and private sectors, and, ultimately, to people in general in their roles as consumers and end users” (www.iso.org). In addition to standards, this report describes some internationally-recognized unofficial resources such as guidelines and recommendations that the language industry could benefit from.

Today standards and guidelines are produced by a wide range of organizations in addition to ISO. For instance, the World Wide Web Consortium and the UNICODE Consortium play a key role in standards for the Internet. As business processes move to a Web model, these standards are becoming essential for any business wishing to compete in tomorrow's markets.

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