OASIS CIQ V2.0 COMMITTEE SPECIFICATIONS / STANDARDS PAGE
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 relationships. 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 compelling.
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 Management:
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).
PROBLEMS AND OBJECTIVES
There are many problems associated with name and address data:
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 unreliable. 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,
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:
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:
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 relationships. Following are some of the customer relationships that are covered by this standard: Contact Management
Person to Organisation Relationship Some examples of Person to Organisation relationship are:
Organisation to Organisation Relationship Some examples of Organisation to Organisation relationship are:
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.