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The XML Economy

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XML expert Benoit Marchal shares his vision of the convergence of XML and eCommerce – the “XML Economy.”

XML expert Benoît Marchal shares his vision of the convergence of XML and eCommerce – the “XML Economy.”

I am very active in eCommerce and XML. Over last month, I participated in many discussions that helped me sharpen my vision of how the two will blend. Here's the vision — the XML economy.

The Internet and Transparent Markets

One of the fundamental laws of a capitalist economy is that a transparent market, one where every player has access to all product and pricing information, is the ideal market. The transparent market will, over time, converge towards the best pricing for the best products with the best level of services.

That's the economic theory at least. In practice it is very difficult to create transparent markets. The stock market and, possibly, eBay are the best approximations we know of. Yet the theory is useful in guiding our actions. For example, the antitrust laws are derived directly from this theory.

When it comes to the Internet, you can read this law in many interesting ways — particularly if you are a proponent of open software and open standards. Here's one which I call the XML economy.

The Internet proved such a fertile soil for the development of eCommerce, and the so-called new economy, because it is a good basis on which to build an almost transparent market.

Technically speaking, it is based on open standards (HTML, HTTP, SMTP). Open standards enable anybody, no matter what computer he or she uses, to join and participate in the online economy.

Conversely other forms of eCommerce have not achieved widespread adoption because they failed to build a transparent market. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is a prime example: it is a good idea and one that works. However it never captured a significant market share because it is a relatively closed club with such high membership dues that few business can afford to join.

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