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Commercial Trust Architecture (CTA) - Standards

The reason we - collectively - are at peak productivity in the 21st century (pandemic aside) is because we have learned - through painful, expensive, and sometimes deadly experiences - to define, develop, and adopt standards for most things in life. Many standards have developed by edict. Regulatory bodies such as the FDA, or OSHA require certain things. Others are a result of collective, collaborative efforts. The world wide web works because of internet standards bodies such as ICANN and IETF. While others happen because of wide-scale commercial adoption that becomes the norm, like EPDs for building materials.


With supply chains in turmoil, brands’ ESG claims are being challenged, and consumers wonder whom they can trust. The need for a trust standard has become glaringly obvious.


Keeping or establishing TRUST with customers or throughout a supply chain, requires a baseline standard for the data that must be shared and tied to products. Organizations wanting to establish trust through a Commercial Trust Architecture (CTA) think deeply about the entire commerce chain, and which data elements are critical to telling the full product story. They consider who they are going to be receiving data from and who they are going to share it with. Within certain industries, conventions have emerged; many industry-trade groups, foundations, academic institutions, and research laboratories lend guidance as to which standards are best for engaged companies and industries.


For example: the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry leverages the work of the GS1 family of companies for: a) product identification – GTIN, b) location identification – GLN, c) event records through a products journey – EPCIS. These standards, and comparable ones in other industries, provide a standardized identification and event schema upon which transparent transactional activity can be created and used to improve supply chain operational efficiency, governmental and regulatory oversight disclosure, and create new and dynamic relationships with customers and consumers.


How this will apply to your business and ecosystem will depend on what opportunity you are pursuing, who you will be receiving data from and sharing data with, and what data you are willing to release and under what circumstances. The answers to these questions will be determined by your “stature” in the supply chain -- whether you’re a leader, fast-follower, or late adopter, and what norms exist or are emerging within your industry and category.


The success or failure of this transparency movement depends upon trading partners agreeing to share the same types of data in the same way and for them to be assured their data is interoperable, secure, and protected. Additionally, the data property ownership rules - they who create the data own the data - need to be established so that data owners can protect intellectual property and trade secrets and can "monetize" their data as they see fit.


We believe radical transparency is inevitable; the question is: "Will it happen to you or because of you?!


As an organization exploring what Commercial Trust Architecture can look like, and how it will transform their business, one should think about:


What industry standards exist that can be used to safely and securely share data with ALL trading partners & customers?

What standards should exist to effect this transformation?