Trading Partners Synch Up

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Jun 07, 2006
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By Bill Bittner, President, BWH Consulting


Nearly 1300 people descended on Nashville, Tenn. this week to learn about the fundamental technical requirements for a successful B2B implementation using the global standards supported by GS1.


GS1’s UConnect Conference brought together users and experts from GS1-US, 1SYNC, EPCGlobal and RosettaNet to discuss how to synchronize data, identify logistics units, implement radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and bring business processes into line.


Data synchronization seemed to generate the most excitement at the conference. In May, GS1 announced the number of companies implementing global data synchronization increased from 200 to 5000.


Supervalu announced it has synchronized item data with 500 vendors, representing 60 percent of its volume, through their Data Pool Provider, 1SYNC. Supervalu joins Wal-Mart and Wegmans as one of the top retail implementers of data synchronization. 1SYNC is one the technology companies providing data pool services to retailers and suppliers.


Moderator’s Comment: Data synchronization has been a twinkle in the eye of retailers and suppliers for almost ten years. It seems to be finally taking
hold. What have been the hurdles and do you think now is the time for data synchronization to succeed?


Attempts to implement data synchronization in the past have presented challenges for manufacturers using multiple internal data sets. Companies had to resolve
internal issues before accepting the challenge to provide data to retailers. Now that new processes demanding even more data precision are being implemented, it is more important
that this information be correct. The technology is certainly ready to support data synchronization; now it seems businesses are in synch, as well.

Bill Bittner – Moderator

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6 Comments on "Trading Partners Synch Up"


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Ron Margulis
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

I agree with Bill that the primary hurdle has been the requirement that individual retailers and manufacturers first get their internal data in order before trying to synch up with their trading partners. This has been a challenge because of rapidly changing technology and a rapidly changing marketplace. Companies have had to update their systems to get into the 21st century and while they were trying to do this, the Internet happened causing additional tech issues. And the blurring of channels happened causing additional marketplace issues. While there may be unforeseen impediments blocking the road to near-full industry-wide data synchronization, the future looks good for all of the benefits the process promises.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

The ultimate step in retailer-supplier relations that’s being delayed: pay by POS. Retailers could hold supplier merchandise at no initial cost, paying an agreed-upon fee based on POS data. The ultimate retailer objective: transfer all inventory risk to the supplier. No extended dating, no markdown allowances, no investment. The tools are all there, but the adoption is rare.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

The reason Data Sync has not become standard practice in 10 years is that has no payback or safeguards. Retailers still have to check and verify supplier information. My experience is suppliers simply don’t see the need for the data accuracy that retailer requires. Not every supplier manufacturing plant is set up exactly the same. So when product gets trans-shipped, differences occur. It is unlikely that Data Sync will ever be more than a dream of the people selling this service.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 8 months ago

Data synchronization is wonderful, and just enough of a zephyr that we’ll be chasing it for decades. To “succeed,” of course, means more than synchronization alone. Applications and uses must sprout in order to keep this movement salient, and a community of ancillary providers will emerge. Programmers will develop a whole new family of data-use applications.

Right now, developers are working on just-in-time delivery programs which use data synchronization as a foundation. Developers specializing in transportation and logistics algorithms are working on a set of breakthrough applications that they expect will reenergize the railroad industry as a major carrier, based on the product of data synchronization. Etc., etc., etc.

Jonathan Foster
Guest
Jonathan Foster
14 years 8 months ago
Data synchronization is alive and thriving in many countries. The US marketplace is lagging behind in embracing these standards. Countries like Canada and Australia have reached critical mass several years back and currently have in excess of 80% of grocery retailers participating in data synchronization. The fact that the US lags behind should be no surprise as their adoption of other globally accepted systems (like the Metric system) has historically been next to impossible. The push for global standard setting does have benefits for manufacturer as they will no longer need to supply customized [datat] to each of their trading partners. They will also be able to consolidate the management of their master data into centralized facilities. The benefit of data synchronization is not unlike the difference between a restaurant with wait staff and a buffet. In a non synchronized environment, each customer’s order (the set of data that they require) is managed by an individual (the account rep) who relays these requirements back to the kitchen (the company’s EDI department or IT department) who… Read more »
Ken Kubat
Guest
Ken Kubat
14 years 8 months ago
Having just returned from the U Connect event, I can report ‘first hand’ that enthusiasm is high, and the industry appears ready to tackle the challenge of data synchronization with renewed vigor. Along with this optimistic observation, I offer a cautionary axiom as well … the “trough of disillusionment” is a direct function of unmet expectations. So, a reasonable question is: “What SHOULD the expectations for data synchronization be?” Short of knowing the concrete, metric-based answer to that question, I will just say I think Michael is headed down the right track with his comments. Data synchronization IS a journey, more like a “practice” or “behavior” to be pursued than a specific task or milestone to be reached/achieved. Even as the industry improves its ability to get “in synch,” challenges wrought by increased complexity will obscure the perception of progress. In that sense, it brings to mind the notion of a “100% service level” … a goal that drives fundamentally vital behavior, but a goal that will never be FULLY achieved because of the dynamic… Read more »
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