Lawrenceville, NJ—The Uniform Code Council, Inc., (UCC) leaders in facilitating efficient international business, has announced a comprehensive electronic commerce strategy will be built around Extensible Markup Language (XML). The goal of this effort is to promote the global development and implementation of XML standards for Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer electronic commerce. This strategy was presented at the UCC Electronic Commerce User Commerce in October and approved by the UCC Board of Governors in November 1999.
The UCC's commitment to XML to facilitate electronic commerce has been based on the extensive feedback and participation of UCC member companies, spanning a wide range of industries, geographies and company size. Dennis Epley, Vice President of the UCC said, "With the Internet becoming a dominant force in electronic commerce, we feel XML offers our members the greatest flexibility and functionality to conduct electronic commerce effectively. A global standard for XML will revolutionize electronic commerce, Web content, and enterprise computing. Based on its impressive capabilities, XML will give all members of the EC community the ability to speak a single, global language of business."
Leading technology experts are predicting that XML will transform the World Wide Web and electronic commerce. XML, like its more familiar counterpart, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), is a markup language that uses "tags" or sets of codes to instruct a computer how to handle a text file. While HTML has primarily focused on how the information is displayed or formatted for printing, XML goes much deeper. XML uses these tags to give the information greater functionality, including richer content and the ability to run fast, accurate queries. In addition to creating more "intelligent" information, XML is an open, "technology neutral" standard. This is especially important to companies who deal with many companies that may utilize many different types of software programs. Epley added, "As XML continues to generate increased interest and support from major vendors, companies and standards organizations, its role in electronic commerce will continue to grow in scope and importance."
The UCC's strategy for Electronic Commerce will encompass four key areas:
- common business processes and the data that supports them;
- the generation of XML schemas
- the building of "bridges" to the existing Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) infrastructure by mapping XML data to both X12 and UNEDIFACT EDI transactions;
- the initiation of a global XML Pilot to validate and refine the XML strategy.
Key highlights include:
- establishing and supporting user forums to define common business processes and reach consensus on key practices for them;
- establishing and maintaining the standard dictionary of data elements needed to support the business processes;
- developing and maintaining the XML schemas that provide the contextual relationships between harmonized business process and the standard data dictionary;
- developing an "XML converter" that will enable transparent trade between X12 EDI-based companies and XML companies, as well as between XML and EANCOM-based companies, thereby avoiding the need for mass conversion from one EDI standard to another;
- encouraging all new EC development to follow the XML development model, and committing the resources necessary to ensure X12 and EANCOM-based implementation guides and standards are brought into synchronization as needed.
Ted Osinski, the UCC's Senior Director of Electronic Commerce stated, "the results of these efforts will be the development of a set of global standards and processes that will enable trading partners to conduct electronic commerce on the Internet, extranets or via direct communication. Most importantly, this strategy will allow companies to leverage their existing investment in electronic commerce. We believe XML is a major step in connecting all companies, regardless of their size or geographic location, to the world of electronic commerce. We also believe the program outlined above can be implemented more quickly, with less cost and greater benefit to global supply chains. This is an improvement over the method of first consolidating EDI standards, and then trying to harmonize them with the Internet technologies such as XML".
About the UCC:
The mission of the Uniform Code Council, Inc. is to take a global leadership role in establishing and promoting multi-industry standards for automated identification and related electronic communications. The goal is to enhance efficient supply-chain management, thus contributing added value to the customer.
The UCC, together with its global partner, EAN International, provides a globally compatible and globally unique system for automated product identification. This system enables the automatic transmission of business information between trading partners of any company, any industry, anywhere in the world, in the same language. Nearly 850,000 organizations and their trading partners in over 94 countries use the EANUCC system for product and shipping container identification.