Exchanging business data used to be a costly and often complicated affair for companies.
For years, most relied on two options.
The first was using expensive electronic data systems compatible with only a handful of other businesses.
The other option was using manual processes, that is, using hard copies of documents.
The second option also meant businesses had to grapple with the storage of potentially large volumes of physical documents and the costs of sending out business documents.
Nowadays, there is the globally recognised ebXML family of standards, which makes life far easier for companies needing secure, reliable data exchange.
ebXML is short for electronic business using extensible mark-up language.
This allows trading partners to securely exchange business data using a common modular electronic business framework.
Examples of business data include documents such as blueprints, order forms and invoices.
ebXML standards foster a global electronic marketplace where enterprises of varying sizes and geographic locations can meet and conduct business with one another.
Without this set of standards, businesses, such as suppliers, would have to invest in a range of systems adopted by different partner companies in order to transact with them.
Companies that insist on using their own electronic systems would need to customise them so that they would be compatible with their partners' electronic business systems.
In doing so, they could incur huge costs.
ebXML infrastructure taps into the Internet's existing standards such as http, TCP/IP and smtp.
This means it can be set up and deployed on almost any computing platform.
Adopting the ebXML standard means that a company conducts business according to a standard set of process sequences, which can be rolled out across its operations using off-the-shelf business applications.