The European Commission wants to warn companies of the dangers of over-reliance on a single vendor for their computing requirements and in particular the scourge of vendor "lock-in".
To guide companies through the IT purchasing maze, the Commission has drawn up an "against lock-in" approach that it believes could save the EU's public sector more than €1.1bn. For example, it said open tendering procedures can attract increased numbers of bidders with better value bids: doubling the number of bidders typically lowers contract size by nine percent.
European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes was quite forthright in her belief in the benefits of open standards which, "create competition, lead to innovation, and save money", she said. She believes that the guide will help "national authorities grab every opportunity for innovation and efficiency".
The UK, it appears, is ahead in this particular game as the Cabinet Office published its own "Open Standards Principles" in April.
This latest initiative is part of the EC's Digital Agenda for Europe, an initiative which it will run through to the end of 2020.
The strategy is based on the principle that it is better to work with a variety of standards when implementing IT rather than specifying a single tool, system, or product. But many organisations either lack the expertise to decide which standards are relevant to their IT needs, or fear that the initial costs of change would be too costly and might lead to loss of data, and as a result, remain locked into their IT systems or into a relationship with only one provider.
The EC guide said long-term planning could help replace systems that are "lock-in" prone with standards-based alternatives; this should compensate for higher up-front costs when replacing systems.
Overall the EC wants to take advantage of a "greater use of standards (which) makes it easier to exchange data between public systems".