With the emergence of the Industry 4.0 concept, or the fourth industrial revolution, the industry is bearing witness to the appearance of more and more complex systems, often requiring the integration of various new heterogeneous, modular and intelligent elements with pre-existing legacy devices. This challenge of interoperability is one of the main concerns taken into account when designing such systems-of-systems, commonly requiring the use of standard interfaces to ensure this seamless integration. To aid in tackling this challenge, a common format for data exchange should be adopted. Thus, a study to select the foundations for the development of such a format is hereby presented, taking into account the specific needs of four different use cases representing varied key European industry sectors. © 2016 IEEE.