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The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS)standards stack provides a new paradigm in semantic modeling methodologies for business information. Main characteristic of the approach is the conceptual level for modeling unambiguous business semantics and also the consistent representation of these information on syntax level. It includes the:

  • Data Type Design Rules, the rules for naming, structuring and reusing data types such as “Partner”, “Location”, or even “Product”
  • Core Data Types Catalogue, the fixed set of smallest building blocks for derived, and specific data types such as “Amount”, “Date”, or even “Measure”
  • Context Categorization Principle for clarifying how to structure and use business data types in specific contexts, such as a Shipping Address for Germany or the US.
  • Message Assembly Rules for assembling messages such as “Purchases Order”, “Invoice”
  • Serialization Rules for expressing business data types in XML or other syntax.

The primary and reusable building blocks – SAP Global Data Types (GDT) – to describe business information in SAP NetWeaver™ are based on the so called UN/CEFACT CCTS (Core Component Technical Specification) approach. CCTS based data representations are not only used by SAP. It seems that CCTS has become more and more popular and is gaining momentum in the area of B2B and also B2G. This is due to diverse CCTS based libraries published by different standardization initiatives. These libraries can be used as template and/or reference to be customized according to the users modeling requirements and purposes. They will be also used for harmonization purposes getting the Standard Business Information Component Library (BICL).  One important library is the United Nations Trade Data Elements Directory (UNTDED) (ISO 7372) 2005 version, which is mainly based on CCTS conventions. Especially these business information will play a significant role at the future WCO (Word Customs Organization) Customs Data Model and at Materials Off-Shore Supply Chains (MOSS) project to document the relationships among data used to manage off-shore supply chains, which is also a joint project with Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  UNTDED representing the basis data elements for any trade data interchange by the well accepted UN/EDIFACT standard. The data elements are uniquely named, tagged and defined. But there were still represented according the EDIFACT syntax that has been also adopted by ISO as the ISO 9735 standard. UN/EDIFACT is still widely used in B2B. But UN/EDIFACT is primarily used by big companies and organizations and didn’t found a overall adoption, because the integration efforts are mostly cost and time intensive. Therefore, the focus is going more and more into more flexible and XML based standards, which are directly supported by business applications.  Especially the CCTS standard stack is gaining widespread adoption in vertical and horizontal standards development organizations around the globe and will enable SAP to provide the highest level of semantic interoperability possible between SAP and non-SAP applications. Therefore, it is amazing to see how other communities are using CCTS for the development of their libraries, which can be taken into account as examples, references and future projects.

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