Global data synchronization

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



(2004), "Global data synchronization", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 7.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Global data synchronization

Successful merchandising of a range of products by retailers requires accurate, complete and consistent information relating to these products. If this information is managed effectively and efficiently, there can be great benefits to the entire supply chain from enhanced efficiency, increased speed to shelf, huge cost savings and better customer satisfaction. This has led to the concept of global data synchronization – synchronization of master data among the trading partners. There is a global effort by EAN.UCC and GCI to develop the necessary standards for GDS.

The worlds’ largest retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, and Kroger, are leading this global data synchronization effort by mandating that all consumer goods manufacturers send item data electronically in compliance with standards set by EAN.UCCnet.

However, this “tip of the iceberg” progress is not sufficient. For every global retailer – and supplier – there are literally thousands of smaller organisations that have not yet woken up. Reqio, the product information management company, is forecasting that the whole global data synchronisation (GDS) initiative is set to fail before it gets started unless organisations start taking radical steps now.

Stewart Holness, CEO of Reqio states: “The promise of GDS is enticing. The reality is that most organisations in the supply chain have yet to get the consistency necessary in their own data to make GDS a practical and beneficial reality. Until each individual organisation has put its own house in order GDS will remain a distant dream.”

The basic premise of GDS is to keep all trading organisations in sync by ensuring that basic product data, such as the category and description stored by one company, matches the data stored by their trading partners.

Organisations are asked to submit their product data in a specified format to data pools around the globe which will then be validated against a global data registry and any changes will be flagged immediately across the trading community

GDS has, however, exposed a fundamental problem; that, in order to synchronise product data with external bodies and trading partners, this data first needs to be available and consistent internal to the enterprise.

Organisations need to ensure that their internal product information is built upon a robust data infrastructure before they can consider sharing it with the outside world. It’s up to each individual organisation to take responsibility for their corporate data across the enterprise.

Validating and completing the information at source is the only way to ensure that it stays correct throughout the many business applications and processes required, including those needed to partake in GDS.

Stewart Holness again comments: “The precursor to making GDS a success is product information management (PIM). PIM provides the framework and processes that manage data flow throughout the enterprise, from back end systems to front end, and stores validated information in a central repository. Once there is consistency and reliability in the data it can be shared with other trading partners with confidence. At the moment too few organisations are getting their act together with their own data to make GDS a trusted component of the supply chain.”

Capgemini is forecasting that GDS could impact the bottom line by 10-15 percent, however, without data integrity GDS may never deliver the goods.

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