Certification Programs: Trust, But Verify

April 22, 2009

During many discussions that President Ronald Regan had with the Soviet Union regarding nuclear disarmament, he outlined his position very clearly with the phrase “Doveryai, No Proveryai – Trust, But Verify.” This important concept is the very basis of certification programs. Certification programs aren’t about lack of trust on the part of the standard group/alliance; rather, it’s an acknowledgment that even well-respected companies, that have developed many products based on the same specification over many years, may still have times in which their products don’t meet the standard.

As with any technology developed by a group and products developed by individual manufacturers interpreting that specification, it is highly probable that, left to themselves, individual products may not interoperate nor necessarily meet the spirit of the specification due to nuances in interpretation of the specification. If you don’t make sure, via certification, that your product is interoperable, you negate one of the very reasons that standards and alliance groups are formed in the first place – interoperability. One of consumers’ biggest gripes (about everything from wireless technologies to kid’s building blocks) is a lack of interoperability.

Although interoperability is certainly the most important reason for certifications, it isn’t the only reason. Certification programs are also valuable marketing tools to help manufacturers sell more products by proving interoperability to customers. Customers want to know that they can just pick up a box off a store shelf with a specific logo on it and know that it’ll work with other products they own using the same logo. Plus it provides name recognition for the standard/alliance. Products that “just work” lead consumers to come back and purchase other products that “just work” from the same standard over and over again. Even soccer moms know what common standards like USB are.

With the growing market place of competing products, technologies, and standards, now more ever, it is important to make sure that you get your products certified before they’re released.

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