More than two dozen tech firms and ecommerce operators, including IBM, Google, Adobe, Best Buy and Qubit, have banded together to create a standard for managing certain types of website data – particularly the kind that will be valuable to ecommerce outfits.
The companies are going public with the “Customer Experience Digital Data Acquisition” standard now, although they submitted the draft standard back in May and are hoping for sign-off by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in September. The firms have been thrashing out the standard through the W3C’s Community and Business Groups initiative, which launched a couple of years ago to speed up industry-specific web standards development.
The specifications included in the standard cover product category, price, currency, voucher discounts, payment information and shipping information, but also user information from address to username.
The idea here is to simplify the exchange of data between web services that deal in product and customer information (think tracking) and theoretically cut down on site technology vendor lock-in. Another driver is to make life easier for those setting up shop online for the first time – if there’s a standardized way for them to address specifications such as price or shipping requirements, then that should mean less work developing the site.
As Graham Cooke, CEO of London-based data analytics firm Qubit, told me:
“It could benefit any kind of website that needs to collect structured data, though ecommerce is the industry that will benefit most from it. There is so much more commercial structured data on the ecommerce side, such as weight of item, color of item and so on.
“For us what’s so exciting is that we really managed to get a lot of companies to come together and agree on this standard website data structure… we all know what standards can do for innovation.”
This is true – just look at the GSM standard and the way it accelerated uptake of mobile phones. However, this isn’t an HTML5 standard we’re talking about, so don’t get too excited about the semantic web implications just yet.