Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Changing Competitive Environment: Standards and the Digital Economy/IoT – Implications for Policy and Teaching

An Intensive Industry-Academic Workshop
Sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Harvard University in Collaboration with Northwestern University Buffett Institute

Gutman Conference Center, Harvard University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Appian Way and Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

You should attend if you are:

  • Teaching faculty and academic researchers focused on policy, strategic planning, economics, operations, marketing, or engineering design.  Students working with participating faculty are also welcome. 
  • Managers, standards setters, and government policy makers at the operational and strategic levels.

This 1.5-day Workshop will examine the Digital Economy as it impacts industry, explore related standards successes and roadblocks, and examine how standards and standardization are integrated into the academic curriculum.

The relentless pace of the ongoing Digital Evolution – aka Digital Economy, Industry 4.0, and, particularly, the Internet of Things (IoT), including Cloud Computing, smart systems, open standards, and cybersecurity -- is fundamentally challenging business and personal operations and strategic, technology and innovation decisions as well as government policy. The impact is expected to be pervasive and disruptive, affecting all sectors, including services and products, and driving jobs, innovation, and global competitiveness.

Underlying and enabling the digital economy are still-emerging technical standards.  As a consequence, Standards have moved from technical concerns to a position of strategic importance.

Success in the Digital Economy will require both an understanding of standards and standardization processes and participating in the evolution of standards driving the Digital Evolution.

However, standards and their development and management are rarely included in the growing number of digital economy courses. This one-and-a half day Workshop will engage faculty, industry, and government participants in a discussion on how standards can be effectively integrated in to the curriculum and appropriate pedagogy. 

This workshop has two interrelated components:  

  • Day 1 begins with keynote addresses by renowned speakers in the relevant strategic standards arena on the implications of the digital economy.  A special lunch presentation by Alan Davidson, Director of Digital Economy at the U.S. Department of Commerce and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce will lay out the challenges facing industry. An industry panel considers sector variations. Following an academic panel response, participants will work in breakouts to consider the challenges, standards underpinnings, and curricula requirements.
  • Day 2 digs deeper:  Attendees will work through an experiential standards negotiation exercise designed to deepen understandings of the complex and subtle issues inherent in standards development. Discussion will then consider what was learned and suggest potential class uses of this model and other teaching approaches.  

Intended Outcomes

  • Identification of standardization issues within the target domain;
  • Actions by participants to more fully incorporate standards and standardization issues in their courses and training. This will be supported by dissemination of materials and discussion of adaptation for varying course settings;
  • Movement, advanced through breakout discussion, toward continued dialog and an ongoing industry-university support community.



This Workshop builds on earlier events held at Northwestern University, UCLA, University of Pittsburgh and Georgetown University. These Workshops focused on, smart systems including smart grid, cloud, smart manufacturing; cybersecurity; and supply chain operations, strategy and infrastructure development in a global economy.

There is no fee for participation in this workshop, however you must pre-register in advance by Friday, August 26, 2016. 




Sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Harvard University in Collaboration with Northwestern University Buffett Institute

Created August 7, 2016, Updated September 9, 2016