ISO Show

The ISO Show: Episode 32 – What is ISO?



What is ISO?

ISO is the ‘International Organization for Standardization’, hang on a minute your thinking, should it be IOS? Yes, it would be in English, or it would be OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation .

This isn’t  a great start for an organisation to agree on standards internationally is it? So in the end the founders, decided to name the organisation – ISO which is derived from the Greek, ISOS, meaning EQUAL.  So whatever the country, whatever the language, we are always ISO – EQUAL.

So where did it all begin?  Well the ISO story began back in 1946 when delegates from 25 countries met at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London, and decided to create a new international organization ‘to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards’. The following year, the new organization, ISO, officially began setting standards for the worlds trade.

Today ISO, have standards body members from 164 countries and 781 technical committees and subcommittees to take care of standards development.

So What do International Standards actually do? Quite simply they provide a recipe for making things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and sustainability. In many cases they are instrumental in facilitating international trade.  ISO puts standards at the heart of the Global Agenda and helps define a clear path for businesses large and small.

You could say that in this day and age our world faces complex global issues and uncertainty about how we do business, whether its climate change issues or technological advances such as the ‘Internet of things’.  Never before, has there been such a demand for International Standards.

Now although on our ISO show we typically talk about Management System standards i.e. ISO 9001 for quality and ISO 27001 for information security, ISO have actually published 22,942 International Standards.  They touch almost every aspect of our lives – from making a cup of tea – yes that does exist! To designing submarines.

So what is an ISO standard? well quite simply it’s a document that provides specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.

Bringing real and measurable benefits to almost every sector imaginable, standards underpin the technology and services that we rely on and help to provide the assurance of quality that we expect.

Shared success is about successfully sharing the best ideas and methods. Making Best Practice equal – making it ISO.

Of course not everything needs to be standardized. International Standards only address shared challenges and the things that matter most.

So What matters to you? Is it sustainability? Is it growing your business? Or keeping customers happy? On the next ISO Show we’ll look at the 5 most popular standards and why they matter most. Until, then if you’d like to find out more about ISO Standards and the benefits, check out our website To help out the ISO Show:

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