The switching on of the Large Hadron Collider on the 10th September may not have created the black hole some feared, but then something of a black hole appears to be consuming the world’s banking infrastructure and with it all available credit.
Central bankers may be fighting to contain the worst affects of the financial storm, but it’s clear that credit is going to get a lot tighter, and that means a cooling of consumer spending and much tougher lending conditions for companies. Cost will have to be trimmed and efficiencies made if corporate financial stability is to be maintained.
So where are the potential areas for making productivity gains within the supply chain? Adopting ‘lean’ supply chain principles by taking waste out of processes is a good starting point and automating repetitive processes that offer little value may offer major savings. Perhaps one of the most wasteful processes surrounds the exchange of data between customer and supplier. Electronic commerce may have speeded transaction times, but much needs to be done in the area of synchronising product data so that information is consistent, accurate and up-to-date.
The Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN), initiated by the world’s leading Consumer Packaged Goods companies and a number of leading retailers, has been working for the past four years to facilitate the swapping of product data between manufacturer and retailer and establish a set of standards for each product type. But this is a huge task and one that takes two-to-tango. Whereas 15,000 manufacturers are involved in the initiative, only 145 retailers are in the GDSN.
Manufacturers obviously have a lot to gain by getting this right, particularly if they are working across international markets, but so too have retailers, despite the facts that most retailers operate in local markets.
Ensuring data continuity is one thing, but ensuring accurate data input is another. And for that, automated processes need to be put in place. The last thing you want to create is another black hole.
There will be plenty more on this in my feature on data synchronisation in the November issue.