TECHNOLOGY: Keeping garbage out

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TECHNOLOGY: Keeping garbage out

It's a well-known fact that poor data quality results in time-to-market delays, increased out-of- stocks, higher volumes of product returns, and frequent order/invoice discrepancies, all of which can cost a retail merchant tremendous amounts of time and money to address.

Retailers venturing into data synchronization must make sure their data is squeaky clean before allowing it into a data pool to share with suppliers. Without constant vigilance, however, bad data can creep into the system under the radar.

To truly unlock the benefits of retailer-supplier collaboration, grocers must ensure the accuracy and integrity of their master data. "Any errors in master data will be magnified many times over, further complicating supply chain collaboration efforts," writes Prasad Vuyyuru, senior principal and group solution manager, retail and CPG practice at Infosys Technologies, Ltd., in a column that appeared in the May 15 issue of Progressive Grocer. "But some grocers have pursued data synchronization for more than three years without realizing the promised benefits."

There's a movement afoot to block bad data from getting far enough to do damage. London-based GS1 UK, the independent supply chain data standards body, and GXS, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based provider of business-to-business e-commerce solutions, are working to nip the bad data problem in the bud with a solution developed to intercept it before it can even enter the system.

The organizations have developed a new integrated data pool solution incorporating UDEX, a GXS service, for retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers in the United Kingdom. The solution will build on GS1 UK's global data synchronization network (GDSN)-certified data pool solution, already in use by GS1 UK members and supported by GXS Data Pool Manager.

"While more suppliers and retailers are adopting GDSN-certified data pools and reaping benefits, poor data quality remains a significant pain point in the supply chain," says Gary Lynch, c.e.o. of GS1 UK. "While many companies recognize the challenges and delays that poor data quality represents, they have yet to fully solve this problem. By partnering with GXS for the UK Data Pool, we will drive data quality improvements industrywide."

The new solution features the UDEX Product Data Quality (PDQ) and PDQ Firewall services, which map and transform standards-compliant data into the format required by the buyer or retailer, to reduce errors and improve product data-dependent processes. As data is submitted by suppliers, PDQ Firewall validates the data against a retailer's specific requirements. If the data is in full compliance, PDQ Firewall allows the data to pass. If not, it's blocked to prevent it from tainting the existing clean data.

The newly enhanced data pool will be delivered as a total solution to customers in the United Kingdom as a service with a single price, a single contract, and a single point of contact.

To date, GXS Data Pool Manager has been deployed by 27 GS1 member organizations around the world for the purpose of creating and supporting country or regional data pools. These data pools support local retailers and suppliers, and enable them to trade consistent, standardized data with trading partners around the world. Following the solution's rollout in the United Kingdom, GXS plans to expand it worldwide.

"It is our intention that the success of this project can be replicated in data pools around the world, thus minimizing the effects of poor-quality data throughout the global supply chain," says Brian Riordan, g.m. of UDEX