Decision makers require good information

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 12:00am

The GDS initiative is designed to provide a framework to harmonise business data between companies and their trading partners worldwide

UNIVERSAL STANDARD serves as the bedrock of modern supply chain management to ensure a seamless flow of information and data between companies around the world.

According to GS1 Hong Kong chief executive, Anna Lin, the globalisation of trade has accelerated the need for better control of supply chain processes and information exchange between companies.

This makes international standards increasingly important to the success and improved productivity of businesses.

To this end the organisation is actively promoting the Global Data Synchronisation (GDS) initiative, which is designed to provide a framework to harmonise business data between companies and their trading partners worldwide.

'In today's knowledge-based economic environment and the trend of globalisation, business decision making has to be based on information. The company's management requires a lot of data and analyses to make a good decision,' Ms Lin said.

With global standard, an effective information and communication system can be established, which is essential for companies with an international business exposure and trading partners worldwide.

'Most importantly, the standard will enable the information flow in the supply chain to be synchronised with the physical goods flow,' she said.

This improved data exchange and sharing would help companies carry out forward planning in supply chain management.

'You will know in advance in the system when and what kind of products will come so that you can be better prepared and reserve space in the warehouse or arrange speedy transfer or shipments,' Ms Lin said. 'It is all about better planning and information-based decision making. With forward planning, you save time and that means the speed to market is faster.'

The GDS network seeks to facilitate companies and trading partners in different locations worldwide to exchange accurate, up-to-date trade information and data using the GS1 standard.

The system's global registry connects interoperable data pools around the world so trading partners can obtain and exchange information on items and products electronically.

It has the power to transform supply chain operations globally, drive down costs and increase efficiency at every stage in the process of moving goods from the manufacturer to the consumer.

Key global players such as WalMart, Carrefour, Target and Ahold have shown strong interest and support in adopting the technology to drive their businesses.

GS1 Hong Kong is also working with local industries to validate the benefits of data synchronisation. A pilot has been co-ordinated with Procter & Gamble as the source data supplier and Dairy Farm as data recipient to test the initiative.

Ms Lin said GDS was critical to avoid many unnecessary costs and transaction problems, enabling trading partners to do business globally and increasing data accuracy and cost savings.

Inaccurate product information, out of stock situations, returned shipments, warehouse and transportation inefficiencies, excess safety stocks, and errors in invoice and purchase orders all reduce operational efficiency.

'There is a lot of wastage in the process such as over-stocking of raw materials and excess pipeline inventory,' she said. 'With better collaboration between companies and by using the GS1 standard, that means no more back and forth confirmation on trade information and transactions.'

Information and communication technology played an important role in business efficiency, Ms Lin said.

'As a result of the globalised economy, competition is getting increasingly fierce and it is now a chain of companies competing with another chain of companies,' she said. 'Companies cannot simply look at their own operations and their immediate customers. They should be open to new ideas, take the initiative to learn supply chain management and look after the needs of the end customers.'

Only by providing creative solutions to meet customers' demands and managing the supply chain processes could a company rise to cope with today's business challenges, she said.

As big companies quickly move forward in adopting the latest technologies in supply chain management, she said, smaller enterprises must forge ahead with the trend and not fall behind.