80 B2B Standards in use today, and still counting

March 10, 2011  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing

Steve Keifers from GXS collects stuff. One of the things he collects is standards. B2B standards in particular. He created an impressive list of 80 standards for B2B information exchange that are in use as we speak. As a fellow collector, I love to discover new items for my collection. Steve Keifers probably too. So, if you have a contribution to his list, just let him know:


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  1. From the headline it seems the author is trying to emphasize the adage, ‘the good thing about standards is there are so many to chose from’.
    Whilst I agree with this intent, a collector should be more precise. As with most collections it helps to categorize things into some form of taxonomy. Not all the things the author refers to as standards are the same. I see some are recognized Standards (with a capital ‘S’), some are customizations or localizations of these Standards and some are projects that are developing common implementations. The different governance and sustainability of these various initiatives affect their value as a ‘standard’ (with a lowercase ‘s’).
    Surely the important thing here is not to list the plethora of initiatives but to ask the question, why. Is this a good or a bad thing for overall adoption of B2B solutions? Should we be trying to (and how can we) rationalize this list? Or will market forces achieve this?
    Personally I like the analogy given by Clive Holtham of Cass Business School, contrasting B2B standards with the standards for screw threads…
    *. Principle discovered around 400 BC
    *. Limited use until machine tools made mass production possible (18th century)
    *. Every machine shop and foundry made unique sizes and thread dimensions
    *. 1841: Joseph Whitworth presented “The Uniform System of Screw-Threads” to Britain’s Institute of Civil Engineers
    *. 1864: William Billers proposes “On a Uniform System of Screw Threads” for the United States
    *. 1942: British tanks required US parts
    *. 1945: British and American standards merged
    *. Enabled interchangeable parts and tooling for mechanization and mass production
    *. A lead time of 2300 years!

    It seems the pressure for real standardization depends on the customer demand.

  2. I do fully agree with Tim.

    What is the purpose of so many ‘Standards’ and ‘standards’?
    Many are just prepared because their authors are not ready
    to have a look around and study what is available and what can
    be used (and reused). Is seems that it is easier to prepare (and
    promote) own standard than look and adopt an existing one.


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