The Extensible Markup Language (XML) has just turned 10 years old, but has yet to take its rightful place as a fully fledged business tool, according to data quality firm Griffin Brown.
Wikipedia defines XML as a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages and is designed to help facilitate the sharing of structured data across different information systems, particularly via the internet.
According to an article by Griffin Brown director Alex Brown, while the last ten years has seen a rapid expansion in the technical capabilities of XML it has still not achieved anything like its full potential as the digital format around which companies can build their knowledge-based businesses.
Data is becoming an increasingly valuable company asset that needs to be strictly monitored and controlled, and Brown reckons that inaccurate data more often leads to system failures than poor programming or software bugs.
Furthermore, the fast and reliable movement of that data between a variety of systems is becoming increasingly important for companies to deliver better quality of service to customers, e-commerce and exchanges with partners and customers.
Due to its flexibility and open standards, XML is now considered the most portable and flexible document format since the ASCII file. It is flexible enough to be customised for domains as diverse as web sites, e-commerce and voice mail systems.
"For organisations that rely upon data to support their core business, it is important that they store data in a high quality, agile format," said Brown.
"Content providers that looked to the future saw that digital content must be adaptable to be supplied online, and today data must be made available to growing number of devices such as mobile phones and BlackBerries."
"Similarly, business that rely on data access for engineers, field workers and mobile employees, need to ensure that their data is stored in a universal format that is easily understood by a wide range of devices. Choosing non-proprietary technology like XML is the future."
However, Brown warns that XML is not a panacea and that, in order to derive business benefit from any data, companies need to make sure that information is as accurate and complete as possible.
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