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"What Is RUS?" - Requisite Unifying Structure (RUS) - Requisite Technology (2001)


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Requisite Unifying Structure (RUS) - Requisite Technology (2001)
Jennifer Karas
Lowell Millburn
D'armond Speers

Published in: Technology
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"What Is RUS?" - Requisite Unifying Structure (RUS) - Requisite Technology (2001)

  1. 1. Requisite Proprietary Information What is RUS? November 9, 2001 Jenn Karas Lowell Milburn d’Armond Speers
  2. 2. 1 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 Introduction As the common language of e-business, RUS TM (Requisite Unifying Structure) provides the structure for organizing content for use in any major e-procurement application. This organizing principle optimizes Requisite’s finding, content management and supplier enablement products and services, delivering the critical link to catalog administrators across the supply chain. RUS is a product classification standard comprised of categories and attributes that describe a universe of commodities and services. RUS forms the common language of e-business used to enhance end-user finding and content management across diverse buy-side and sell-side platforms. RUS categories and attributes also provide the structure upon which mapping of catalog content to major classification standards and translation to multiple languages is accomplished. With this standard classification structure, electronic catalogs can be unified in an e-procurement environment, making it much easier for users to find, compare and buy the products they need, thus completing transactions while driving end- user adoption and ROI. This white paper outlines 1) the principles that characterize RUS; 2) the specific elements that make up a RUS Category; 3) the benefits of RUS and 4) additional RUS features. RUS Ontological Principles Ontology is a scientific methodology for providing a consistent structure to large, complex sets of information. As experts in how the human mind organizes information, Requisite Ontologists develop product and service categories that enable users to easily find what they are looking for online. The Requisite methodology includes ongoing development by ontologists who ensure that categories are defined consistently and accurately. Consistency enables the RUS structure to be reusable across multiple catalogs, because a product will always be found in the same category, with the same attributes, in any catalog. Finding products in RUS does not require a high level of commodity expertise by end-users. The following general principles form the Requisite ontological method: • RUS Categories adhere to the genus level of categorization. Genus level structure is the commonsense understanding of what an item is without considering its placement in a hierarchical ordering or grouping of objects. Genus level categories represent how an object is perceived, identified and characterized by people when it is encountered in daily activity. An individual identifies with an object at a more generic scope than the object might be known by an expert (e.g., Pump, instead of a Diaphragm Pump). Everyday identification tends to take place at what biologists call a genus level of classification, and this is the level Requisite adopts for RUS structure. • RUS Category Names adopt the “is-a” model of classification. Requisite refines genus level categorization by applying the “is-a” model to describe how a community of speakers comes to
  3. 3. 2 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 identify the object using commonsense terms in everyday conversation. The “is-a” model names objects by asking a simple question of the common speaker: “What is it?” When objects are classified at the most basic level, they tend to be associated with a category that fosters quick, wholly intuitive content management. By contrast, the “where-used” model of classification organizes objects ambiguously around many competing, sometimes overlapping uses to which a product or service can be applied. This can lead to the problem of categories that make content management difficult. Depending upon the item in question, “where-used” models tend toward the development of overly narrow categories, e.g., kitchen knives, carving knives, paring knives, butcher knives, etc. This expanding set of categories does nothing to ease the classification of items. It also confounds the finding experience of buyers, by permitting similar objects to be found in separate categories. • RUS Categorization avoids multiple inheritance across domains. Hierarchies often permit identical products or services to be classified in multiple categories across several domains. Trashcans, for example, might be found under “Domestic Supplies”, “Office Products” and “Cleaning Equipment and Supplies”. This is called multiple inheritance. In contrast, RUS employs a flat classification scheme that eliminates the need to hunt for products that could be found in any of several domains. RUS creates a single category for each distinct product or service. • RUS Categories use purchase-essential attributes for intelligent comparison of items. Categories provide distinctive attributes relating to all items within a group. These attributes are identified by subject matter experts to provide end-users with a set of generic, purchase-essential qualities for intelligent comparison between similar items. • Category creation is accomplished by Ontologists and Domain Experts (DEs). Based on their expertise in a certain industry, DEs request new categories when appropriate structure does not exist, and these are reviewed and approved by Requisite Ontologists. The approval process ensures that all new categories are consistent with RUS methodology and do not overlap with existing categories. The careful analysis that is conducted on every change to RUS allows the Ontologists to maintain the integrity of the structure that enables the successful creation, maintenance and use of catalogs that include content from many different suppliers. The Benefits of RUS As a multilingual standard for classifying products and services, RUS provides five distinct benefits for organizing catalog content for today’s global e-business environment. • RUS enables multi-supplier catalogs. RUS categories and attributes allow products and services from multiple suppliers and buyers to be organized under a single, unified catalog to enhance the finding, comparison and purchasing experience of end-users. • RUS reduces the cost of content management. Adopting an existing, robust and flexible standard will save any e-business venture from having to invest in the cost of developing a
  4. 4. 3 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 content organization strategy. Organizing content in RUS, where similar items are unambiguously grouped together and described with comparable attributes, relieves a catalog administrator from the difficulty of locating all like items that may require updates (such as changes in pricing), figuring out how to represent content changes across different attributes (dimensions vs. length, height and width), or figuring out how new content will get unified with existing content. And by adopting RUS, you have access to the multiple languages and standards support that RUS provides, at no additional expense. • RUS is a taxonomy platform. RUS provides support for multiple product classification standards, thereby enabling suppliers to leverage the power of many industry standards in managing their catalog content. There are three ways that RUS supports classification standards: (1) mapping enables loading and exporting catalog content to and from industry standards through eMerge; (2) items in RUS categories can be automatically assigned codes from a supported standard such as UNSPSC and eCl@ss; and (3) hierarchical standards such as UNSPSC can be displayed as a Table of Contents within BugsEyeTM Catalog and Finding Engine, allowing for an automatically generated, zero-maintenance table of contents. • RUS enables global e-business. RUS is available in 14 languages, making it unrivaled in its ability to organize and represent products and services to markets worldwide. Genus level categories use the “is-a” model of naming to better facilitate uniform translation into all the different languages Requisite supports. • RUS is a collaborative standard. The RUS Community Portal is a collaborative forum for Requisite customers to participate in the development of RUS by requesting new categories and making suggestions regarding existing structure. Allowing every participant the ability to help develop RUS keeps this standard relevant to the changing business environment. RUS Category Elements Domain Domains are collections of categories that are related by industry segment or vertical. For instance, "pens" and "paper" can both be in the "Office Supplies" domain. Domains are typically similar to industries, however certain industries may use categories from multiple domains. Requisite’s domains are defined following the “is-a” model, the same model used for categories (as explained above). Categories Category Titles The RUS Category Title field is designed to organize products and services according to basic-level categories that adhere to the “is-a” model of item classification. Based upon substantial research in cognitive science and linguistics, this naming model draws heavily upon our intuitive, commonsense understanding of what an object is called in conversation. When a user sees a RUS Category Title, he will instantly recognize that the items he wants are there.
  5. 5. 4 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 Category Definitions The RUS Definition field provides detailed information pertaining to items that can be classified within a RUS Category. Definitions enhance the stability and reuse of structure by permitting users of RUS to understand both the form and the function of products or services, thereby driving category usage. As with any name proposed for a RUS Category, definitions must be developed precisely. Describing a category with sufficient generality widens the scope of items that can be applied to a RUS Category, while discouraging the unnecessary creation of more granular categories. Attributes Common Attributes Common Attributes are descriptor fields relevant to every item within a Requisite catalog. Common attributes provide specific information about each item, such as Price, Supplier Information and Unit of Measure. Category Attributes The Attribute field in the RUS Community Portal records generic, purchase-essential characteristics common to all items associated with a particular RUS Category. The capture of purchase-essential characteristics for a group of objects permits enhanced finding and intelligent comparison across all items within that grouping. Examples of Category Attributes include Ink Color, Size and Dosage. RUS Category Attributes exist independently from categories within RUS. This way, they can be reused consistently across categories spanning diverse sectors of products and services. In practice, RUS Category Attributes are appended to RUS categories whenever they represent generic or purchase- essential qualities common to every item within that category. Attribute Definitions RUS Category attributes are defined generally, but with precision of the concept they each represent. The broader, or more general, the definition of an attribute is, the easier it is to associate it with different categories and domains. The more precise a definition becomes, the less ambiguity there is in terms of its ability to be used in relation to a category. Requisite uses a very specific format to ensure consistency and clarity across attributes. Attribute Values RUS Category attributes have the potential of two sets of values being associated with them: global and local values. Global Category Values. Global category values are common to all categories that use that attribute. One example of this might be an industry standard color palette. If all the clothing in the Apparel, Fashion and Fashion Accessories domain adhered to one color standard, all items with the same color would be called the same color. Blue would be called “blue” and not “sky”, “azure” or “indigo” when
  6. 6. 5 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 adhering to the same color standard. Local Category Values. Local values are common only to items within a specific category. RUS allows attributes to be populated with a category-specific value. Unit Groupings and RUS. Category attributes can be designated as "unit" types, with an associated unit group. A unit group, such as "Temperature," allows for conversion between different UOMs within that group, such as "Fahrenheit" and "Celsius." By designating RUS category attributes as unit types and assigning them to unit groups, attribute values for items in a catalog can be converted to consistent values for meaningful comparison. Aliases Aliases facilitate finding. They allow users to find products even when the exact name of a product or category is not used. Typically, this includes synonyms or alternate terminology for categories. For instance, the category “Key Wrenches” has the aliases “Allen Wrenches” and “Hex Keys”. The Alias field in RUS captures terms for commodities that may be considered synonymous with the official RUS Category Title. The Alias field records terms considered useful based upon a review of diverse supplier catalog data and an expert’s general knowledge about the category. Ontologists and DEs only consider adding an alias to the Alias field within a RUS Category when the term appears consistently over several supplier catalogs, and differs significantly from the RUS Category Title. Other RUS Features RUS Standards Support: Taxonomy Platform Buyers, suppliers and marketplaces often demand that their products and services are mapped to prominent classification standards. RUS provides this flexibility by associating its unifying structure of categories and attributes with several recognized product classification standards such as UNSPSC, eCl@ss and RosettaNet. RUS serves as the “Taxonomy Platform” by which other standards are enabled. RUS allows content unification of information classified in other standards and can generate tables of contents with hierarchical classification systems. As part of its continuing mission, Requisite’s Ontology Department actively evaluates major standards and seeks to participate on committees of widely adopted industry standards. See the white paper Product Classification Standards for more information on RUS and support for classification standards. Localization Requisite is pursuing the globalization of RUS with a dedicated localization team that manages and maintains RUS in multiple languages, while ensuring sensitivity to local linguistic and style conventions.
  7. 7. 6 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 As a result of RUS localization efforts, Requisite and its customers use RUS in multiple languages to author content. These languages currently include: American English Japanese Brazilian Portuguese Latin American Spanish Danish Norwegian Dutch Portuguese French Spanish German Swedish Italian UK English Customers view RUS through the RUS Community Portal and export RUS in all supported languages. Then, through Requisite's patented BugsEye Catalog and Finding Engine, buyers can find, identify, compare and buy products in their native languages. On a weekly basis, all new translatable data in RUS (i.e. category titles, aliases, and attributes) is extracted and sent to a localization vendor. Definitions, category ID, and domain names are added as reference to help the translators formulate an accurate translation for each category and attribute name. Translators are also required to provide aliases for their language, where appropriate. Aliases are not directly translated from American English but should be synonyms for a category in the target language. Turnaround timeframes for this material are closely tracked and new translations are received within 2 weeks. Requisite’s localization vendor uses professional translators who are native speakers of each target language. For each language, a team consisting of both a translator and an editor is used to perform and review the RUS translations. The linguistic teams for each language have expertise in the RUS domains and sometimes rely on research or another expert in the field for additional guidance. Customers who encounter quality issues in the RUS translations submit their comments through the RUS Portal. This feedback from customers, as well as from in-house personnel, is forwarded to the localization vendor for resolution. If English categories or attribute titles change after being translated, they are sent back to the localization vendor on a regular basis for updating. These practices help to ensure the highest quality for RUS localization. RUS Community Portal The RUS Community Portal is an interactive source of RUS information as well as a means to participate in the development of Requisite’s classification structure. The RUS Community Portal allows participants to view and download RUS through their web browser, while providing tools for content and unified schema development and information on languages and standards. RUS Community Participation RUS Community Participation provides users the opportunity to take part in the development of RUS. Requisite customers have the opportunity to drive the development of this standard, and to ensure that RUS continues to evolve to meet their needs. This program provides access to the RUS Community Portal, including educational resources, online help, Requisite Ontologists and the tools needed for
  8. 8. 7 Requisite Proprietary Information © 2001 Requisite Technology, Inc. BugsEye, eMerge, Requisite Unifying Structure, and Requisite Technology are trademarks of Requisite Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. Rev. 11/01 submitting additions, deletions or revisions to RUS Categories and Attributes. RUS Community Participation levels range from limited-time access to full content development. Some levels of RUS Community Participation allow more direct involvement in the building of new domains, translations of new languages, mapping to new standards, etc. Participants in RUS can do the following: • Access categories, attributes and aliases of RUS for use when authoring content • Download RUS schema by category or domain or receive an update since the last download • Browse or search the current versions of product classification standards • View RUS in multiple languages • Download RUS categories and attributes in multiple languages • Request changes or additions to RUS through direct interaction with Requisite’s Ontology Department Conclusion Requisite Unifying Structure provides a common language of e-business upon which to create unified multi-supplier catalogs in an e-procurement environment. It provides the critical link between end-user adoption of e-business platforms and ROI. The methodology used to develop RUS has resulted in a consistent and readily translatable schema. RUS can be mapped to multiple product classification standards such as UNSPSC and eCl@ss, to support content mapping, item coding and an automatically generated Table of Contents. RUS serves as the “Taxonomy Platform” by which other standards are enabled. Requisite supports the rapid development of RUS through the RUS Community Portal by allowing participants to submit requests to add new categories and attributes.