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This paper identifies and defines standards required for successful e-commerce (EC) platforms. It presents an ontology of standards and applications that can be used to evaluate any EC platform. Current platforms are limited in usefulness and development economy by lack of standards. We describe how the development and use of such standards could help improve EC platforms. We examine the current and emerging platforms and technologies in relation to the proposed ontology including electronic data interchange, e-procurement systems, business-to-business hubs, company WeWeb b sites, electronic business eXtensible markup language, Web services, the semantic Web, and universal business language. We conclude that no individual platform or technology provides complete support for every level of the ontology, and we suggest that combinations of features from various platforms and technologies may be of most value. We conclude that research is needed in three areas: the discovery phase of EC, participant incentives for standardization, and methods of combining useful aspects from different standards bodies.