A customer (also be called as a "Party") could be a "Person" or an "Organisation".

An "Organisation" could be: Company(eg. Commercial, Non Commercial), Institution 
(eg. University, School),Not for Profit, Association(eg. club), Public Service 
(eg.Railway Station, PostOffice),a Group (eg.Standard body), etc  

In this customer-centric world, the quality of data within information systems has 
emerged as one of the main keys to success. As companies move to establish more 
effective customer relationships, the need to achieve a precise and timely view of 
customer dealings and transactions is recognised as critical. A direct result of 
this is the emergence of company-wide customer management strategies, representing 
a combination of business processes, enabling technologies, information management 
tools and importantly, customer-centric information.  
The pre-requisite for all customer-centric business initiatives is a single view of 
customer: a total picture of every involvement the enterprise has with any particular 
customer - whether individual, household or company. Such information is the basis 
for a better understanding of customers' needs and buying motives. It establishes 
the foundation for effective one-to-one 

Essential to any effective customer focussed strategy is the need for customer 
information that meets the highest possible standards in quality and integrity. There 
is little point in relying on a single view of customer based on incorrect or 
unreliable information. This can put an entire customer initiative at risk and could 
also seriously degrade the customer relationship. 
Often, it is only when attempting to unify customer data from disparate business 
systems that the impact of poor customer information is fully understood. While data 
within individual line of business systems may be fit for the purpose for which they 
were collected, combining data with different structures threatens the effectiveness 
of entire customer relationship initiatives. Adding even further to customer 
information quality degradation are errors that occur during data entry. As each 
error occurs, the ultimate effectiveness of customer data is reduced. 

The bottom line is that reliable and accurate customer information is now more than 
ever essential in establishing effective customer relationships. Therefore, customer 
information quality management is very critical and hence, the need to develop a  
standard way of describing Customers (e.g., Identity, Name, Address, etc.) is very 

OASIS Customer Information Quality Committee

The OASIS Customer Information Quality Committee (CIQ) was formed to consult 
with the industry and develop open standards for the interchange of customer data. 
The committee has developed three XML Standards for Customer Information/Profile 
  • xNAL : extensible Name and Address Language
  • xCIL : extensible Customer Information Language
  • xCRL : extensible Customer Relationships Language

xNAL Gif
Even though customer data consists of many components, the customer name and 
address remains the only reliable identifier of a unique Customer entity. 

Name and address, as a data type, has unique characteristics, which make it very 
difficult to manage. This data is often volatile: customers come and go, addresses 
change, names change. This data is often cluttered when entered. Name and address 
fields on front-end screens are usually free format and ripe for users to enter 
comments and extra data, without any edits.

Name and address is also subjective: it can be written in a number of different 
ways and still represent the same entities. There is no application independent 
standard to represent name and address data and to measure its quality. This problem 
is further compounded by the different cultural contexts of name and address data in 
a global market.

Delivery of mail and parcels to customer addresses has become a vital link in the 
logistic chain between suppliers and customers. This link is tenuous: an average of 
15% individuals and businesses moving each year. Studies show that incorrect addresses 
can cost up to 8% of revenue, generated by double postage costs, extra printing and 
material cost, handling, and the related cost for organising and administering 
erroneous deliveries. 
Determining whether shipping and billing addresses are valid is now a major business 
inhibitor. For e-Business alone, between 5 to 9% of the shipments are returned due to 
addressing errors. In 1998 Forrester Research described shipping difficulties as the 
main barrier for implementing global e-Commerce. 
Call centres face challenges when registering correct addresses, particularly in an 
international environment where language differences can lead to misunderstandings 
and incorrect data input. 
The problem is the variety in international addressing systems, and the lack of 
knowledge on the format, structure and data involved in a correct address. 
Addresses can generally be improved with standards in format, the use of reference 
data and implementation of address data entry tools. Any large international address 
database that has a significant percentage of changes can benefit from address entry 
or address structuring and cleansing systems. Improvements are both in quality 
(correct address, customer friendly data intake) and in quantity (faster input 
or correction).


There are many problems associated with name and address data:
  • Challenges in the treatment of name and address occur mostly during 
      data entry.
  • Errors and discrepancies in customer information mostly occur during the 
      consolidation of files from different lines of business.
  • The order in which address elements are naturally presented varies from 
      country to country.
  • In some countries the house number is provided before the street name, 
      in other countries the house number is given after the street name. For some 
      countries the house number is essential to determine the postcode, for other 
      countries a simple city input is sufficient.
  • Correct entry of an address in an international environment becomes 
      heavily dependent on the knowledge of the person performing the data entry, 
      or the ability to interpret the appropriate address elements
If an address database contains errors - for example the same address is entered in 
two different varieties the retrieval of information becomes extremely complex and 
The fact that elements of a customer name are not unique can lead to unexpected 
duplication of information. Storing the same information in different ways makes 
de-duplication more difficult. Database search and query functions may give ambiguous 
or confusing information, or not locate all matching records. Online searches can 
result inlong drop down lists of choices on the screen and a degradation in the 
performance rate during retrieval. 
Managing customer information has a number of problems that can be improved through 
the application of open standards to this type of data. There are, however, a number 
of name and address standards available throughout the world. To a large extent, 
these standards have been designed with a particular business requirement in mind, 
for example, the expedient delivery of a piece of mail. This has generally meant that 
while the particular standard is appropriate for the purpose for which it was designed, 
it is frequently not suitable for a variety of other purposes.  

The challenge for xNAL is to provide the ability to handle the following:
- About 36+ customer name formats 
- Addresses of 241+ Countries 
- About 130+ Address Formats  
- Represented in 5,000+ languages (dialects) 
- Should be application independent, ie., capable of being used for a variety of 
  applications ranging from simple user profiling to name and address parsing, matching, 
  validation and postal services
- Should be Platform independent 
- Should be open, and 
- Should be vendor neutral.

Given that our objective is to develop a global standard for managing name and address 
data regardless of country of origin, to simplify things from maintainability point of 
view, we have broken xNAL into two XML Languages namely,
  • xNL: eXtensible Name Language to define the name components, and
  • xAL: eXtensible Address Language to define the address components
This break up provides the flexibility to users of these standards to use one or both 
these standards depending upon their application environment. 
Download OASIS xNAL Standard V2.0

A Name can be classified into two, namely:
  • Person Name
  • Organisation Name
Download OASIS xNL Standard v2.0 

Fitting over 200 countries into a unified format is no easy task. Countries have 
very different address formats. Some use street names for addressing, others don't.  
Some use island names, others don't. The format must allow for all these different 
types of addresses while at the same time provide a consistent and easy to use format.  

There are different ways to model data, including hierarchical, relational and 
object-oriented. Address data is hierarchical in nature (a country has cities, a 
city has streets and a street has premises) so a hierarchical model is the most 
natural fit. 

The international standard XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is well suited to represent 
hierarchical data and has therefore been adopted for the actual implementation of the 
data model. 

This specification is designed to describe the address elements, not be specific about 
the formatting and presentation of the address. However, formatting at the higher 
-composite- levels is preserved since these are either a single string value or an 
ordered list of multiple strings. This is only considered a side effect at this 
time; there is no detailed specification of how to handle and preserve white space 
in these strings. In the Netherlands for example, it is customary to use double 
spacing between postal code and town on a single line, but naturally this only 
works with fixed-width fonts. New lines are made explicit by only defining 
composite elements at line-level.

Download OASIS xAL Standard v2.0 

Although name and address data is the key identifier of a customer, other data 
helps to uniquely identify a customer. Customer addresses frequently change and it is 
not trivial to link the customer across multiple addresses with just name information. 
In the example below, a customer can have two completely different addresses and it is 
nearly impossible to uniquely identify the customer with the name alone. Customer 
centric data such as telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, account numbers, credit card 
numbers etc. will be necessary to achieve this. This helps in achieving single customer 
view, customer relationship management strategies, understanding customer profile, etc. 

Following are the customer data elements that xCIL Standard supports:  
1.  Customer Name and address Details 
2.  Customer Identifier 
3.  Organisation Details (Branches, Stocks, etc)
4.  Birth Details 
5.  Age Details 
6.  Gender 
7.  Marital Status  
8.  Language Details 
9.  Nationality Details 
10. Occupation Details 
11. Qualification Details  
12. Passport Details 
13. Religion Details 
14. Ethnicity 
15. Telephone Details 
16. Facsimile Details 
17. Cellular Phone Details 
18. Pager Details 
19. E-mail Details 
20. URL
21. Financial Account Details 
22. Identification card Details  
23. Person Physical Characteristcs 
24. Tax number Details 
25. Vehicle Information Details 
26. Family Member Details
28. Income Details 
29. Reference Contact Details 
30. Hobbies 
31. Habbits
32. Residency Details
33. Visa Details 

xNAL is a subset of xCIL. xNL and xAL are referenced by xCIL.  

Download OASIS xCIL Standard v2.0 

Customer relationship management is the key to build effective customer relationships. 
Customer relationships could be categorised into the following:
  • Organisation to Organisation Relationship
  • Organisation to Person Relationship, and
  • Person to Person Pelationship

A standard way to represent customer relationship helps to achieve interoperability 
between different systems, processes and platforms and in building effective single 
customer views. There are no standards for representing customer relationship and 
hence, this work attempts to define a standard in XML to capture and represent such 

Following are some of the customer relationships that are covered by this standard:

Contact Management
Examples of Contact Management could be, a person maintaining a list of personal contacts, an account manager of an organization maintaining a list of potential and or existing business contacts, a list management service provider maintaining a list of customers subscribed to their services, etc. Person to Person Relationship Some examples of Person to Person relationships are:
  • Mrs Mary Johnson and Mr.Patrick Johnson, where Mary is the "Wife" of Patrick and 
      Patrick is the "Husband" of Mary
  • Mrs Mary Johnson and Mr.Patrick Johnson "IN TRUST FOR" Mr.Nick Johnson, where 
      Mary and Patrick are the trustees of Nick and Nick is the beneficiary
  • Mrs. Mary Johnson, Care of Mr.Patrick Johnson, where Mary is dependent on Patrick
  • Complete Organisation Structure (Employee-Employee Relationship)
Person to Organisation Relationship 

Some examples of Person to Organisation relationship are:
  • Mrs. Mary Johnson and Mr.Patrick Johnson "DOING BUSINESS AS" Johnson & Associates, 
      where Mary and Patrick are persons who are jointly doing a business under the name of 
      a company called Johnson & Associates.
  • Mrs and Mr. Jonhson "IN TRUST FOR" Mr.Patrick Johnson "DOING BUSINESS AS" 
      Jonshon & Associates
  • Mrs and Mr. Venkatachalam "IN TRUST FOR" Mr Ram Kumar and Mr Laxmana Samy 
      "ADMINISTRATORS OF" Sakthisoft Pty. Ltd "TRADING AS" Mantra Corporation
  • Mr.Ram Kumar, Care of MSI Business System Pty. Ltd, where Ram is the person and 
      MSI Business Systems is the company.
Organisation to Organisation Relationship 

Some examples of Organisation to Organisation relationship are:
  • Company A "TRADING AS" Company B
  • Company A is the subsidiary of Company B
  • Company A is the parent of Company B
  • Company A, Company B and Company C are the subsidiary companies of Company D
xNL, xAL and xCIL are referenced by xCRL.  

Download OASIS xCRL Standard v2.0 

Implementations of CIQ Standards in Industry

The standards developed by CIQ are now being used by industries, organisations, 
consortiums and standard groups. Many have shown interest in CIQ standards and 
are evaluating them. The usage list is growing everyday. Most of the implementations use
CIQ standards as the base standard to represent party information and then extend them to
meet their specific application requirements.

For confidentiality reasons, we are not in a position to publish the actual name of 
vendors and organisations. Following is a broad classification of groups/industries 
that are using/evaluatin/implementing the CIQ Standards: 

- Vendors (eg. CRM, Data/Information Quality, XML, Information Access, Web Services) 
- Standards Groups (eg. Jabber.org, UBL, Election and Voting Services, etc) 
- Consortiums (eg. Medbiquitous) 
- Governments (eg. e-Government) 
- Solution Providers 
- Telecommunications Industry 
- Publishing Industry 
- Insurance Industry 
- Postal Industry
- etc

Given that OASIS does not track the download and usage of its standards, we are unable
to know the usage of CIQ standards in industry. However, some organisations were kind 
enough to voluntarily give us a summary of the usage of CIQ standards in their 
organisation and the type of application they are targetting. 

Click here for a small "sample" list of applications in industry that are using 
CIQ standards. For privacy reasons, we have neither included the organisation's 
name nor the contact details. This sample list only covers the period between 
Q4 2001 to Q1 2003. Several implementations have occurred during Q4 2000 to Q3 2001.
We did not keep track of numerous implementations after 2003 around the world by different 
types of applications.

Feedback about CIQ Standards

The CIQ TC is very open for feedback. The XML Standards developed by CIQ TC 
are for the internationalcommunity to use the standards effectively that would 
enable them to meet their business objectives/requirements. It is not the 
intention of the CIQ TC is any way whatsoever to dictate how the standards 
should evolve and how it should be. It is the feedback that the CIQ TC receives 
from the standards users that helps the CIQ TC to improve the standards. 

The CIQ TC is very open for any collaborative work with any group on developing 
the standards as long as it is carried out in an "open" environment. The CIQ TC 
welcomes any form of feedback that will help improve the standards. Please e-mail 
your feedbacks to Ram Kumar, Chair of the TC.
If you have downloaded and are using the CIQ Standards in your organisation or 
in your applications,please drop in a line to us about the type of applications 
or the nature of work that uses CIQ Standards. This will enable us to work towards 
ensuring that the CIQ standards are truly evolving as global XML standards for 
customer information. Please send your note to Ram Kumar, Chair of the TC.