Estimated reading time 15 min

Standards do not kill creativity, they breed it

In a global fair data economy, standards support and accelerate transboundary business growth and enable international innovations.


Katri Korhonen

Specialist, Competitiveness through data


Data is important to companies’ innovation capacity. Companies are therefore increasingly seeking to develop new data-based products and services for their clients. If merging data from multiple sources is tricky within one company, the challenges are multiplied when data needs to be shared among several companies. Developing new, data-driven business models requires using existing technologies in novel ways and under new rules – standards.

The solutions developed so far are mainly point-to-point and field-specific, such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) for financial sector services, which gives third-party access to individual account details with the account holder’s permission. Ineffective, isolated technology solutions should be replaced with harmonised approaches established on a consensus basis. While standards are not a universal remedy, they could offer a faster and easier way of sharing and merging data with predefined rules and interfaces.

The international group of developers participating in Sitra’s fair data economy project examined the main focus points for standardising the technical components designed for data sharing. The most important requirement specifications – consent management, identity management and logging – were packaged in the project into a prestandard approved by the European Committee for Standardisation, CEN. In practice, the prestandard represents the vision of the best experts in the field and, as the name suggests, it is the first step in the official standardisation process.

Standards help ensure effectiveness and speedy scaling of innovations in the data economy.

Technology solutions conforming to the new requirement specifications play a key role in developing services with a fair data economy mindset. Sure, but do we have a place and the means to build such services on a trial basis? In June, Sitra released the first version of the Ihan.fi testbed for service developers to use to run trials on a reference architecture that complies with the new requirement specifications. Services built in compliance with the requirement specifications have a predetermined form and are compatible with other services implemented in accordance with the prestandard.

So, the testbed trial run of the service idea proved its excellence. What is the next step? In addition to testing ideas, scaling is also part of the innovation process. In a global economy, standards support and accelerate transboundary business growth. When service implementation is governed by the same standard, no time or money is spent on adapting innovations to different country contexts. For example, services conforming with the abovementioned requirement specifications are compatible and can be recognised and marketed as fair data economy services.

When everything else is uncertain, put your trust in standards.

The testbed and preliminary standardisation represent the first steps in speeding up the scaling of data-driven innovations. Could this be a chance for your company to quickly leap toward a new, fairer data economy? Read more about what the Ihan.fi testbed contains and what standards can do to accelerate your company’s innovations. Stay tuned! The rest of the testbed’s features will be released by the end of the year, so start gathering new service ideas for testing.

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