IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Improving UccNet-compliant B2B Supply-chain Applications Using a Context Interchange Framework


  • Tu, Steven
  • Madnick, Stuart
  • Wu, Luis


UccNet is a globally centralized B2B electronic data platform for storing trading product item information and hosted by the non-profit international standardization institute EAN-UCC. It is an emerging B2B data communication standard for the retail industry with significant potential impact. Many US retailers are requesting their international suppliers for compulsory subscription by the year-end of either 2004 or 2005 and many major IT software providers and consulting firms specialized in supply chain management are preparing packaged services/solutions for this imminent demand. In light of the increasing importance of UccNet on both the technology and application sides, this paper attempts to advance the following argument: Though UccNet establishes an architectural framework to resolve the many-to-many connectivity issue and data synchronization issue through a centralized product database and a uniform numbering system (i.e., Global Trade Item Numbering), there are context discrepancy issues remaining to be addressed. We show with a real case study that context discrepancy is inherent in the international trading applications where UccNet is intended to be used. Naturally, international trading partners tend to define and describe product item information differently. That difference, either due to the culture or the geographical location, is not considered in the original design of UccNet. As an example, the attribute "width" contained in the database schema of UccNet would be filled by a China-based supplier in 'meter' and yet be interpreted as 'feet' by the US retail buyer. We show how the Context Interchange Framework, operating under the rationale of local autonomy and speaking to the resolution of context mediation issue, can be nicely incorporated into the existing UccNet framework to constitute theoretically a more complete technical solution and practically a more useful B2B supply chain business solution.

Suggested Citation

  • Tu, Steven & Madnick, Stuart & Wu, Luis, 2004. "Improving UccNet-compliant B2B Supply-chain Applications Using a Context Interchange Framework," Working papers 4478-04, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:7398

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    B2B; Retail Supply-Chain; UccNet; Data Connectivity and Synchronization; Context Interchange; Data Semantics;

    JEL classification:

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:7398. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.