Understanding the context in which ISO operates is essential to defining our priorities. This includes identifying external drivers of change and evaluating their impact on our organization. In envisaging ISO’s role over the next decade, we have identified four primary drivers of change as the areas where we see International Standards having the most impact and relevance in the world – the economy, technology, society and the environment.
These drivers are all strongly interlinked and large-scale disruption or crises may affect multiple drivers at once. Change presents both risks and opportunities. Understanding how it occurs by monitoring these four drivers will enable us to anticipate and respond to their potential transformative impact on the ISO system in order to ensure our relevance in a shifting global context.
trade and uncertainty
The evolution of the international trading system and its impacts on the global economy are uncertain. Even as the concepts of globalization and multilateralism are increasingly challenged, the interdependence of global supply chains remains strong and essential. This context makes it difficult for organizations to predict their long-term development, as access to global markets for their products and services may be impacted. Changes resulting from economic and trade uncertainty may affect the demand for, and relevance of, International Standards.
the impact of digital
The growth of digital infrastructures and the integration of digital technologies with other more traditional technologies are rapidly and significantly changing the way people live and work around the world. For organizations, advancements in digital technology can help boost efficiency and productivity, create competitive advantage and promote innovation. It is, however, important to analyse which technologies have real value and relevance, not least from a social perspective, and where investments should be made. International Standards can help society and businesses make the most of digitalization and foster the spread of new technologies in a sustainable way. ISO must also harness the power of digital technologies to improve its own value chain and agility.
changing expectations and behaviour
Public and civil society actors want higher levels of transparency and collaboration and expect their concerns and requests to be heard and addressed. They expect individual rights to be upheld and are increasingly concerned that security should not come at the expense of privacy. This pushes organizations to be more inclusive, more accountable, and to better integrate stakeholders in their decision-making processes, including by listening to feedback and anticipating stakeholder expectations. For ISO, this presents a challenge to the current standards development process and its resulting products, providing an impetus for faster, more inclusive development and more customizable products.
the urgency for sustainability
The world faces major threats to the environment if it fails to adequately address risks such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. These and other issues cut across national borders and cannot be solved by one individual, company or government alone. International cooperation is required, with a view to achieving sustainability rather than short-term solutions. ISO has a key role to play here as International Standards can be important tools to support the shift towards a more sustainable future.
The ISO Strategy outlines our priorities for the next five years. It provides guidance and strategic direction, helping us to respond to a future where constant change will require us to continually improve the ISO system.