SBS Newsletter – Issue 4 – 2020

SBS Newsletter – Issue 4 – 2020

SBS data economy conference highlights the importance of data access for SMEs

In February, the European Commission published a European Data Strategy. The main objectives of the strategy are to set up European Data Spaces, to create a single market for data and to develop a secure and dynamic data economy. The potential for innovation and growth that the data economy can offer to SMEs is significant, as SMEs have the advantage of being flexible and can quickly react to market changes. Nevertheless, they also need to overcome a series of challenges to benefit from the full potential of the data economy.

The SBS annual conference, which was held virtually on 29 September 2020, addressed the current challenges and opportunities of the data economy for SMEs. Access to data is a key issue for SMEs and is crucial for the further development of technologies such as artificial intelligence or machine learning.

One of the main conclusions of the event was that standards are essential to unlock the full potential of the data economy. Standardisation is a tool to enhance data sharing, interoperability and the portability of data. The speakers also highlighted the importance of open standards. Another point made was that big companies too often try to impose their own standards to secure a dominant position in the market.

Another element that emerged from the discussions was the importance of developing trust if we want to build a solid data economy. In this regard, cybersecurity and privacy go hand in hand with data access. Regarding future cybersecurity schemes to be developed by ENISA, the need to consider SMEs when developing them was also highlighted.

The event was closed by SBS Director Maitane Olabarria, who stated that both regulations and standards play an important role in laying the foundations of a fair data economy. The biggest challenge is to make the data economy work for all: consumers, small businesses and big companies. The participation of SMEs in the development of standards providing the technical foundations of the data economy is key to achieving this. Ms Olabarria added that this is where “SBS plays an important role by raising awareness, disseminating relevant information and enabling SME experts to actively participate in standards drafting. It is also important to provide incentives and funding to facilitate their participation.”

The findings identified during the conference, which featured stakeholders from diverse business sectors, policy-makers and consumers, are in line with SBS’ position paper on the data economy published in June this year.

Recording of the conference

“Smart Lifts” and interoperability with IoT systems
Today, many lifts on the market can exchange data with external systems. Soon, it will be possible to process the data through artificial intelligence and the algorithms will have the role of predicting and preventing failures in the various parts of the machine.
Interoperability with Internet of Things (IoT) systems is therefore the keystone for the improvement of companies and services, of which the ultimate goal is to increase maintenance and lift efficiency.In 2017, the technical committee dealing with standards in the IoT sector at ETSI (TC Smart M2M) opened a working table on “Smart lifts”. It was important to verify what the state of the art in the lift sector was with reference to the IoT world, and in particular what effect a development of such systems could have on the market.Thanks to the support of SBS and EFESME experts, ETSI published a technical report (TR 103 546 – V1.1.1 – SmartM2M; Requirements & Feasibility study for Smart Lifts in IoT) in April this year, which analyses the interaction of “connected” lifts with the IoT world at present.
TC Smart M2M considered it appropriate to continue this analysis and approved the creation of a technical specification (TS 103.735) that will go deeper into these issues, laying the foundations of a complete standard. The specification is expected to be published at the beginning of 2021.

ICT standards for access to data: A key to innovation and to a circular economy

If Europe wants to achieve its climate and economic goals, the digital sector has to contribute and embrace sustainability in all its facets: circular economy models for hardware, climate-neutral CPU models and server centres, and software advancements to reduce energy consumption, to name but  a few. By enhancing repairability and third-party maintenance, the life cycle of products could be extended, but this would not be entirely possible without third-party access to data. Only if independent repair and maintenance companies have access to the products’ data can we have a competitive secondary market, where many SMEs can thrive and drive economic growth and employment, consumers spend less and product life-cycles can be extended.

For instance, compliance with standards for access to data could greatly improve the energy efficiency of buildings, which altogether are responsible for 28% of all carbon emissions worldwide (36% in the EU). Enabling building owners or tenants to access their own energy usage data, e.g. real-time consumption, would allow them to contract independent service providers, such as SMEs and start-ups, which could improve energy efficiency through software, the IoT, and AI innovation. Much of energy efficiency through innovative technologies depends on access to data generated by transmission system operators (TSOs), distribution system operators (DSOs) and aggregators.

Therefore, standardised data formats and interfaces that ensure access to data are a precondition to enable faster innovation by independent companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups. A well-functioning and dynamic market would unleash the innovation potential of many SMEs to make products and services greener, cleaner and more circular. The SBS position paper on the data economy emphasised this, as access to data “holds tremendous potential for creating innovative products and services while reducing the carbon footprint of the EU economy.”

SBS ICT Forum on Policy, Norms, and Standardisation of Artificial Intelligence

On 28 September, SBS organised its annual ICT Forum on the topic of “Policy, Norms, and Standardisation of Artificial Intelligence (AI)” from the perspective of SMEs. The event demonstrated that European small businesses have a strong interest in artificial intelligence, and that they increasingly perceive standardisation as a tool to support the uptake of this technology.

The event included two panel sessions, one focusing on AI policy and another on standardisation in AI. Both panel sessions saw a fruitful and energetic exchange of ideas, including contributions from Lucilla Sioli (Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry at the European Commission’s DG Connect), MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, members of DIGITAL SME’s SME Focus Group on AI, and representatives of the European standardisation organisations (ETSI and CEN-CENELEC).

The discussion focused on practical steps to include SMEs in standardisation, to ensure that their views and interests are represented in a process otherwise dominated by large enterprises. Another point that participants considered essential in making AI a success in Europe was scalability. Indeed, users tend to converge on solutions that are widely spread. However, AI relies on data, so there is a need to ensure that data is transportable from one AI system to another. Reusing data is important for scalability.

Standards can create fair foundations for an economy that enables competition and innovation, which will bring about scalable and successful European solutions. However, to seize these opportunities, SMEs need to be made aware that standards can support their business aims. Through awareness raising and knowledge sharing about technologies and standards, European standardisation organisations can help to bring AI to the wider economy.

DIGITAL SME and SBS will continue to promote SME participation in ICT standardisation, AI and all other applicable sectors.

Watch the recording of the forum

SBS and 2023 sign a memorandum of understanding to strengthen SME presence in the international standardisation landscape for ICT
SBS and 2023, the ICT Standardisation Observatory and Support Facility in Europe, have decided to join forces by signing a memorandum aiming for a more effective market uptake of standards by smaller businesses.  The intention is to have the voice of the SME community adequately considered within standardisation development organisations’ working groups and committees in the ICT field. SBS will be a valuable contributor to the successful evolution of the European observatory from 2020 to 2023.
Launch of the SME Compatibility Test for Standards
On 7 October, SBS launched the SME Compatibility Test for Standards. This online test, accessible from the SBS website, can be used by any standard maker who wishes to assess the SME-compatibility of a standard. The test is the starting point for possible improvements to a standard if it appears to be unsuited to smaller businesses.
Try it out to test a standard!Do you want to know more about the test? Watch the 10-10 webinar organised together with CEN and CENELEC on the participation of SMEs in standardisation.
Study on the effects of European standards: Survey for associations and companies
The European Commission has recently launched a study aiming to assess whether, and to what extent, the adoption of European standards has been beneficial for European consumers, firms and the European economy as a whole. In this context Ernst & Young and Menon Economics, the consultants carrying out the study on behalf of the European Commission, have recently launched two questionnaires.
One of the questionnaires is aimed at industry associations (link) and the other at individual companies (link).The deadline for answering the questionnaires is 9 November. The study is expected to be finalised by November 2021.


Views and opinions expressed are those of Small Business Standards (SBS) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EFTA. Neither the European Union nor EFTA can be held responsible for them.