Technical specifications in this context provide details of how business messages are constructed. By publishing these specifications. the authors ensure that disparate systems should inter-operate successfully.
Business message technical specifications can be divided into two forms:
- Unstructured Data Specifications usually refer to data that cannot easily be used to exchange data as part of a message Trade Data Interchange process. In most cases the data is intended for visualization only by the receiver and will not be re-used in a business workflow. The most common form of unstructured data in a business document is a PDF, which has been an ISO standard since 2008.
- Structured Data Specifications are developed to facilitate the Trade Data Interchange of business documents. Once the specifications are understood at both ends, the receiver can automatically take the data and process it as part of the business workflow. Message standard specifications such as UN/EDIFACT have been common for many years. However since 2000, there has been growing pressure to use specifications based on XML, such as UN/CEFACT CCTS, which separates the semantic layer from the syntactic. Many of these newer messages actively developed by Standards Organizations, such as UBL, UN/CEFACT CCL and WCO Data Model, are based on this CCTS.
To maximize benefits it is better to use structured data, which ensures business processes can share the data. For example, the EU Commission has stated that if standards-based documents using structured data such as the Cross Industry Invoice (CII) are used in the EU, it could save 20 million SMEs €40 Billion.