In case you were wondering…

There’s been a bit of a furore in the comments-sections of this weblog lately, with various people arguing back and forth about whether or not money can in some way buy influence on industry-‘standards’ and purported ‘thought-leadership’. If money can be used to buy such influence, it would have some decidedly-disturbing implications for the validity of supposed ‘standards’ and suchlike for enterprise-architecture and the like.

For clarification, then, just yesterday there’s this article from Terry Blevins, on the Open Group’s own weblog, presenting five reasons why companies should get involved in Open Group standards-efforts. Here, in its entirety, is his fifth item:

5. Ability to set the standard – if one already has a product suite that is connected with sound interface specifications; a Platinum member of The Open Group can submit that as the standard in the fast track and actually be seen as setting the standard. This promotes the company in the leadership position and commitment to the interoperability message.

And take a good look, too, at the Open Group’s ‘Platinum membership‘ option: it’s pretty explicit about how much serious extra clout that such membership – for ‘premier organizations’ only – entitles that member to have on the Open Group’s nominally-‘open’ strategy and standards-work.

So whilst it’s probably true of other standards-bodies as well, in the case of the Open Group, the short-answer to the question “Can money buy influence on standards?” would seem, from their own statements, to be an almost-unqualified ‘Yes’.

Just in case you were wondering…

3 Comments on “In case you were wondering…

  1. This does happen, Tom,

    On the other hand, it should be noted that I’m participating in the Open Group’s initiative to come up with an exchange and interoperability format for ArchiMate. I represent the Open Source ArchiMate tool Archi. I think I’ve got some influence on the initiative without contributing any lucre to the OG, because Archi is regarded as a neutral reference implementation and the fact that Archi’s probably the most used ArchiMate tool out there. Plus the fact that I’ve got a big gob. 🙂

    • @Phil: “This does happen, Tom.”

      Yep, I’m well aware that it does – and even more so in politics, of course.

      (And in case anyone thinks that I’m unfairly singling out the Open Group on this, it’s just that they were the ones who provided the explicit examples here – I’m well aware that it happens elsewhere, probably far more so than in OG, and in far more covert form, too.)

      The point here is that we need to be aware that this is so – and hence plan and act in accordance with that fact, rather than pretending that it doesn’t exist.

      In other words, our architecture of governance for enterprise-architecture and the like will need to include and compensate for the reality that the existing architecture of governance may well be somewhat skewed in ways that don’t help the overall aims of our shared-enterprise.

  2. Just to be clear — submitting a proposal for a standard, even through a fast track process, is not the same as being assured that the standard will be adopted. Proposed standards still have to go through the membership approval process, and the submitter still has only one vote in that process, just like every other member. In many cases such fast tracked standards are likely to become de facto standards anyway, and The Open Group process at least allows everyone else to be heard, rather than overrun by simple economic clout in the marketplace.

    For the details of The Open Group’s processes, see:

    It’s like that quote about democracy: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”


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