I certainly recognize the syndrome from companies I've
worked for. But on the other hand, one can say exactly the same about
research, or advertising. Most of the money spent is wasted. The problem is
predicting in advance.
I think there's very little difference in practice
between different standards or pseudo-standards organizations. They start off
small and fast, if they are successful they get bigger, eventually they get so
big they produce standards that no-one can afford to implement, and in the end
they collapse under their own weight. The quality of the work they do
depends on the individuals who participate and not on the companies behind
The direct ROI for the participants is always miniscule.
Standards work doesn't give you competitive advantage, it increases the
potential market for all the players (and especially the non-dominant
players). Given that fact, it's remarkable how much people are prepared to
spend on it. In fact, people probably only spend the money because they are
persuaded to do so by their best engineers, and their best engineers are
motivated by the technical challenge rather than the ROI.
But without these activities, the IT market would be even
more susceptible to monopoly domination than it is now (and always has