Interoperability is the ability of two or more networks, systems, devices, applications or components to exchange information between them and to use the information exchanged.
Without standards there is no interoperability. Standardization is an essential tool to foster interoperability. Interoperability impacts on many different facts: it fosters competition and innovation and allows greater consumer choice. Thus, in response to the market demand, interoperability is becoming an important requirement in standards projects.
Although there can be several barriers and challenges to interoperability in the process of developing and implementing a standard, these restrictions and challenges can be overcome by coordinated industry actions and by involving a wide spectrum of stakeholders.
From the user's perspective, the fundamental value of standardization and interoperability is about enhancing the user's choice. In an open ecosystem, standardization and the development of open standards play a major role in enabling interoperability. Interoperability, in turn, enhances the choice for users who are presented with many more options for different products and services that they know will exchange data with others by virtue of the interoperability standard. Interoperability is the guiding principle for fostering greater competition and driving the networked society.