5.5 – Standardisation and product making

In this chapter the work done by a company developing a product is compared with the work of MPEG developing a standard, the product that MPEG delivers to its customers.

Let’s see how a company could decide to make a new product:

  1. A new product idea is proposed
  2. The product idea is supported by market studies
  3. Technology is available/accessible to make products
  4. Design resources are available
  5. “Product board” approves the project
  6. Design is developed.

Let us see the corresponding work flow of an MPEG standard (look at How MPEG develops stan­dards to have more details about the process):

  1. An idea is proposed/discussed at a meeting
  2. Idea is clarified in context and objectives
  3. Use cases of the idea are developed
  4. Requirements are derived from use cases
  5. A Call for Evidence (CfE) is issued to check that technologies meeting the requirements exist
  6. A Call for Proposals (CfP) is issued to get the necessary technologies
  7. National Bodies (NB) approve the project
  8. The standard is developed.

Let us compare and align the two processes because there are significant differences next to similarities:

Table 7 – Comparison of company and MPEG operation

# Steps in a company product Steps in an MPEG standard
1 A new product idea is proposed Idea is aired/proposed at a meeting
2 Market studies support product Context & objectives of idea drafted
Use cases developed
3 Product requirements are developed Requirements derived from use cases
4 Technology is available/accessible Call for Evidence is issued
Call for Proposals is issued
5 Design resources are available MPEG looks for those interested
6 “Product board” approves the product NBs approve the project
7 Design is developed Test Model developed
Core Experiments carried out
Working Drafts produced
Standard improved in NB balloting
8 The design is approved NBs approve the standard

 

Comparing the two processes one can see that next to a high-level similarity, there are differences:

  1. Product proposal: processes are hard to compare. Any company has its own processs. In MPEG, proposals can come to the fore spontaneously from any member.
  2. Proposal justification: processes are hard to compare. Any company has its own specific means to assess the viability of a proposed new product. In MPEG, when enough support exists, it first documents the context in which the idea would be applied and for what purposes. Then MPEG develops use cases to prove that a standard implementing the idea would support the use cases better than it is possible today or make possible use cases that today are not. As an entity, MPEG does not make “market studies” (because it does not have the means). It relies instead on members bringing relevant information into the committee when “context and objectives” and “use cases” are developed.
  3. Requirements definition: happens under different names/ processes in companies and in MPEG.
  4. Technology availability is quite different. A company may owns a technology as a result of some R&D effort or because it has acquired it. If it does not have a technology for a product, it either develops it or acquires it. MPEG “owns” a body of technologies, but typically a new proposal requires new technologies. While MPEG members may know that technologies are actually available, they may not be allowed to talk about it. Therefore, in general MPEG needs two steps: 1) to become aware of technology (via CfE) and 2) to have the technology available (via CfP). In some cases, like in Systems standards, MPEG members may develop the technology collaboratively from a clean sheet of paper.
  5. Design resource availability is very different in the two environments. If a company sees a product opportunity, it may have the means to deploy the appropriate resources. If MPEG sees an opportunity for a standard, it has no means to “command” members to do something because members report to their companies, not to MPEG. It would be great if some MPEG members who insist on MPEG pursuing certain opportunities without offering resources to achieve them understood this.
  6. Product approval: is very different in the two environments. Companies have their own internal processes to approve products. In MPEG the project for a new standard is approved by the shareholders, i.e. by the NBs, the simple majority of which must approve the project and a minimum of five NBs must commit resources to execute it.
  7. Design development: is very different in the two environments. Companies have their own internal processes to design a new product. In MPEG work obviously stops at the design phase but it entails the following steps: 1) Test Model creation, 2) Core Experiments execution, 3) Working Drafts development and 4) Standard improvement though NB balloting.
  8. Design approval: is very different in the two environments. Companies have their own internal processes to approve the design of a new product. In MPEG, again, the shareholders, i.e. the NBs, approve the standard with a qualified majority.

 

Table of contents 5.4 The ecosystem drives MPEG standards 5.6 Standards are living beings