Open Standards can be very confusing as it has a wide range of meanings as explained here. Simply, Open Standards enable software to interoperate through Open Protocols and allow the exchange data between the software and data and document stores in an Open Format. There are of course many claims to standards and protocols by different bodies, so it is a continual process of challenging and monitoring. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) does a fantastic job for the WWW standards. The wave of Open Source in particular the Open Source Initiative has of course emphasized the need for Open Standards as not complying with the Open Standards discriminates against Open Source and its developers.
Additionally, encouragingly the UK government has embraced this also so consultation and lobbying have brought Open Standards to the forefront of technology consideration, certainly in UK public sector.
What is important is data interchange now becoming more acceptable given the mix of cloud based and on premise solutions and the rise of API’s necessitate Open Standards.