Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting the badge

I have just come across Certified Open, an organisation which is trying to help measure and encourage competition in the provision of hardware, software and services. The aim, as I understand it, is to allow purchasers to evaluate various products and determine which ones will result in commercial lock-in, which may or may not be desirable depending on the intended use and evolution of the product

The assessment has a set of questions with which the product can be scored. Determining on the final score, the product will be awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze assuming a score of 50% or more is achieved. It would appear that each question has a number of options which will have an appropriate weighting assigned to help develop the final score. Now I have no issue with allowing a vendor performing an assessment against his product as it will no doubt assist in identifying areas of weakness which may merit further work. What I am unsure about at this stage, is if there is also an independent review of the assessment as some of the questions are clearly subjective and it is easy to look at your own product in a good light which may result in a good score. The assessment also says nothing about how suitable the product is if it is used as part of an overall system or solution and how the product may be evolved. Interoperability is also key; just conforming to a well defined standard may not be enough if there are various versions of a standard.

The approach to assessment is vary similar to that adopted by US Navy for the Open Architecture Assessment Tool (OAAT) in evaluating products as part of a naval defence system. However, this assessment covers both the technical aspects of the product together with the management and evolution of the product. Now this assessment is clearly aimed at a specific market which is looking to protect its investment in complex products.

I wonder how useful these assessments can be.

Some thoughts:
  • Should the assessments be performed by an independent authority?
  • Will the assessments encourage speculative product development if 'getting the badge' is seen as a key product discriminator in a particular market?
  • Are there any other examples of product assessments which have resulted in products being developed specifically to meet assessment criteria?
Any comments?

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