OASIS Oasis: Accelerating Electronic Business
Members Only

  Specs / Documents
Table Models
Fragment Interchange
Entity Management
Conformance Tests

  Technical Work
Bus Transactions-TRP
Customer Info-CIQ
Dir Services-DSML
ebXML Messaging Services
Election Services-EML
Entity Resolution
Interop. Conformance
XML Conformance
XSLT Conformance

  Oasis Orgs

CGM Open


XML Cover Pages


Last Updated : 31 January 2003 
  • Introduction
  • OASIS Customer Information Quality Committee
  • Objectives of the CIQ TC
  • extensible Name and Address Language (xNAL)
  • extensible Name Language (xNL)
  • extensible Address Language (xAL)
  • extensible Customer Information Language (xCIL)
  • extensible Customer Relationships Language (xCRL)
  • Relevant External Publications
  • Members of the CIQ Technical Committee
  • FAQ about CIQ Standards
  • Implementations of CIQ Standards in Industry
  • Feedback about CIQ Standards
  • Download CIQ Standards
  • OASIS Copyright Notice
  • Intellectual Property Right Statements

  • Introduction

    A customer 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. The Name and Address 
    Markup Language (NAML) developed by MSI Business Systems Pty. Ltd and the Global 
    Address Specifications of AND Data Solutions were used as the basis to develop xNAL, 
    xNL and xAL. 
    Download xNAL Standard 

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

    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 xAL Standard 

    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.  The Customer Identity 
    Markup Language (CIML) developed by MSI Business Systems Pty. Ltd was used as the 
    basis to develop 
    Download xCIL Standard 

    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.  This specification was donated by 
    MSI Business Systems Pty.Ltd as Customer Relationships Markup Language (CRML) to 
    OASIS to adopt it as an OASIS Standard. 
    Download xCRL Standard 

    Relevant External Publications

  • Ram Kumar, XML Standards for Customer Information Quality Management, 
      XML Journal, Vol.1, No.2, July 2000 
  • Ram Kumar and George Langley, "Building your Strategy", eCRM Magazine, 
      Xer Publishing, pp.28-30, July 2001
  • Ram Kumar, XML Standards for Global Customer Information Management, 
      DMReview, Vol.12, No.5, May 2002
  • Ram Kumar & George Langley, The Importance of Information Asset Governance, 
      XML Journal, Vol.3, Issue 11, November 2002

  • 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. 
    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.

    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 rkumar@msi.com.au

    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 rkumar@msi.com.au.

    OASIS Copyright Notice

    Read OASIS Copyright Notice