A company's network of suppliers, distributors, customers, partners, and employees is becoming an increasingly important source of competitive advantage. Business networks require members of the network to share information. Thus, whereas previously the data in enterprise application systems largely stayed locked up behind corporate firewalls, now more and more of that data is flowing over digital networks that form the technical backbone of business networks. This digitization is transformative, driving business networks to ever greater power and efficiency.
Standards are a key factor that allows the digitization of business networks to expand and flourish. Key standards that have already contributed broadly to the growth and capabilities of business networks include technical network standards and standards for business content. Business content standards define the format of data that companies transmit over networks.
However, business content standards have run into limitations because they do not sufficiently address the need for semantic interoperability. Semantic interoperability is the ability of parties distributed across a business network to coordinate their functioning based on a shared understanding of the meaning of the data that flows among them. A new generation of standards for semantic interoperability now coming on line will introduce new efficiencies, cutting the costs of integrating systems across networks.
Projects underway in several industrial sectors to improve alignment among standards bodies are starting to break down silos that have built up around business content standards defined by different standards organizations. The alignment projects are using semantic interoperability methodologies as a way to coordinate businesses content standards.
Two white papers offer in-depth understanding of standards in the context of Business Network Transformation: The Role of Standards in Business Network Transformation and Business Network Transformation and Semantic Interoperability.