David Ralph elected to the Board of Directors of GS1 Data Excellence Inc.

David Ralph, President and CEO of Commport Communications International, inc. with more than 30 year experience in the business to business ecommerce and data integration services business, has been elected to the Board of Directors of GS1 Data Excellence Inc. (formerly GS1 GDSN Inc.) effective September 8, 2016.

The GS1 Data Excellence Board is the governing body responsible for the strategic direction of key GS1 initiatives such as global product data quality and the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).  As a GDSN Data Pool, certified in the first ever certification event in 2005, Commport has been actively driving GDSN adoption as the leading way to transform business operations.

In this role Dave will be helping to guide and develop global initiatives through continued promotion of global data synchronization as the solution to many of today’s data management challenges such as B2B supply chain management and data availability for the support of consumer use of mobile apps.  Dave’s continued advocacy for GDSN adoption is driven by Commport’s mission of solving integration challenges for the benefit of the global community, and this role provides Dave and Commport the opportunity to be at the forefront of strategic direction and development of the network.

Going into his first board meeting, Dave said, “As an entrepreneur I understand what it takes to bring big ideas to market. Participating in the GDSN as a data pool has been an exciting venture for Commport and I look forward to helping to shape the future of the network through innovation and a recognition that we are all a part of the global community and that we are all able to achieve our greatest potential when the community progresses as a whole.”

The New GDSN Major Release Provides Trading Partners Ability to Better Manage Included Attributes

In May of 2016 it is planned that GS1 Global will roll out the latest version of the GDSN communications protocol and data set by moving to the application of the major update with the acronym MR3.

The GDSN Community as a whole determined that the list of attributes associated with even the most basic of products had grown to be almost unmanageable by both data providers and data recipients. MR3 now provides for a very short list of mandatory core attributes but allows for individual trading partners to set the exact list of attributes that they will use and exchange.  As one head of a major Canadian Healthcare Provider group stated in a presentation to industry, “Why do I want to receive hundreds of attributes when I can only handle fewer than 20 in my ERP application?” MR3 now addresses this very issue.

The GDSN certified data pools around the globe have adjusted their interchange protocols in order to handle this new, very flexible but highly accurate method of ensuring that trading partners are exchanging exactly what they need and only what they need.

Commport has been MR3 ready for several months. see more on this here


Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) Launches GDSN Initiative

As the entire Canadian Healthcare community moves towards a completely digital supply chain, supported by the use of the GS1 GDSN for clean, accurate and timely data, Quebec joins the movement by requesting GDSN product data from vendors.

Having determined earlier that a very high percentage of purchase orders created and released by Quebec Healthcare Providers contained errors that were the result of poor quality Item Masters, and that processing these orders added significant costs to hospital ‘back offices’ the decision has been made to use the GDSN to help clean and maintain accuracy of the item masters across the province.

Commport is working very closely with the MSSS to ensure that all vendors are introduced to the GDSN program and can make their product data available for the Quebec Healthcare community.


British Columbia Clinical and Support Services Society (BCCSS) Launch Sets BC to become Leader in Digital Supply Chain in Healthcare

On April 1st, 2016 BCCSS was launched by the BC Ministry of Health to better manage inventoried items for the Health Authorities across all of British Columbia.

As the entire Canadian Healthcare community moves aggressively towards a completely digital supply chain based upon 100% EDI transaction activity, supported by the use of the GDSN for clean, accurate and timely data, BCCSS has become the defacto leader.

Working closely with Commport, and more particularly with Commport’s Community Enablement team, BCCSS has set the lofty but achievable goal of 100% vendor compliance with EDI supported by Item Master data from the GDSN as provided by Commport to eliminate costly resource allocation toward paper based activities.

When orders are released “clean”, meaning no errors in data content, the entire Procure-to-Pay cycle can be handled electronically. For BC this will mean eliminating the manual handling and reconciliation of 1.2 million invoices annually, and a significant reduction in costs.



Canadian Healthcare Industry to Partner with GDSN Certified Datapool Solution Providers That Are Globally Aligned

Why ECCnet Will Not Work for Canadian Healthcare

Canada’s healthcare sector is booming. In fact, between 2001 and 2011 the Canadian pharmaceutical exports sector alone saw 250% growth to become a more than $4 billion dollar industry1. In order to support continued growth and as a member of the global community, Canada needs to ensure that businesses within its borders are using global technology and best practices within their supply chain operations.

Part of adopting global best practices, one supply chain challenge that healthcare organizations around the world have addressed and are currently working to implement, is the exchange and communication of product and item information between buyers and sellers within the supply chain.

In today’s high technology, automation based environment, businesses that lack the adoption of global best practices are at risk of having inaccurate information about the products or brands they use. In the consumer retail market, inaccurate product information can cause brand degradation leading to lost sales. Although the healthcare industry can experience the same brand implications, inaccurate product information can also have fatal consequences. When it comes to managing product information, the Canadian Healthcare industry needs to look at adopting global best practices as a part of its role as a global player – especially when there is so much risk associated with doing otherwise.

GS1’s is the leading global organization for the development of standards to support efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors through their Global Standards Management Process (GSMP)2. The GS1 System Standards have defined the needed technology, symbology and data attributes required to support global best practices. Standards include automatic identification keys such as the Global Location Number (GLN) and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), bar code symbology such as the UPC code as well as a global data communication standard and a supporting network known as the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).

In order to ensure that local market requirements are included in the global standards, GS1 is an association that has engaged Member Organizations in over 100 countries. In Canada, our representative organization is known as GS1 Canada. However, when reviewing the service portfolio of GS1 Canada in the context of their global peers and despite there being a standardized solution available globally, GS1 Canada has continued to market and promote a local market solution known as ECCnet, which operates outside of the global network.

In the Canadian Healthcare sector, GS1 Canada is continually driving to convince Canadian Healthcare participants, providers and their suppliers, to step outside the GDSN and use their proprietary data repository (ECCnet). This direction is contrary to what the rest of the world is doing by adopting the GS1 GDSN as the single source of quality assured product data.

Given the international nature of the Canadian Healthcare industry, this approach simply doesn’t make sense. There are a number of reasons why, but analyses from different perspectives from cost- justification to patient safety show that logically, a local market ECCnet solution is just not needed, nor is it a strategic choice.

GS1 Canada maintains that ECCnet is GS1 standards compliant. What this means is that ECCnet requires the use of some GS1 System standards and leverages the identification schemes defined by the global standards, specifically GTINs and GLNs, as a part of its service delivery model. What isn’t covered is that service providers on the GDSN, called data pools, are subjected to a rigorous third party certification process and because ECCnet operates outside of the GDSN, they are not subjected to this process.

The real question is: why does GS1 Canada operate ECCnet outside the GDSN and its globally recognized standards certifications? What is further perplexing is that GS1 Canada also operates a GDSN certified data pool solution, however it is not made clear if or how the two solutions offered by GS1 Canada work together.

The answer, unfortunately, is that it doesn’t seem to be an issue of standards or best practices – but an issue of the business and financial model in place at GS1 Canada. Operating ECCnet outside the GDSN network allows GS1 Canada to assess all users value added service fees associated to their use of ECCnet. The business reality is that if GS1 Canada were to abandon their efforts related to the promotion and implementation of ECCnet in favour of their GDSN data pool, they would be forced to also abandon the revenues they generate from operating ECCnet. As a not-for-profit standards organization, revenue (loss or gain) should be of no concern.

What does this mean? As a part of the global network standards, the GDSN defines the basic business model of a GDSN certified data pool. In short, a brand owner entering data into their data pool is charged once for that service and those fees are paid to the data pool they have selected for the services they receive. Their data is then communicated to other data pools which provide the services to their data recipient and these organizations are responsible for paying fees for the services they receive from their selected data pool.

Still Confused? A simple analogy would be the phone system. You are responsible for the charges assessed by your phone company associated with having a phone service and you do not need to be using the same phone company as a caller in order to be connected. However, when you receive a long distance phone call, the long distance charges are borne by the caller. As the call receiver, you still need to pay for a basic telephone service in order to be able to receive the call. However you are not liable to the caller’s phone company for the charges associated with the long distance call, the caller is.

Data pool services in general, while addressing a business requirement, get very technical very quickly. The language used in marketing material for data pool services can be confusing and overwhelming for business users or at the other extreme, over simplified. The reality is that a manufacturer and a data recipient gain similar benefits in different ways from using data synchronization. The direction of the data flow and the nature of the services are major technical points that are easily obfuscated as a part of marketing the services. This generates confusion and is at risk of leading Canadian Healthcare businesses away from the use of global best practices.

Ultimately in order to ensure global success, the Canadian Healthcare industry needs to work alongside its global peers to adopt global best practices for data management. The world has established the GDSN as the foundation for optimal best practices. ECCnet, is a product registry that operates outside of GDSN standards and certification requirements. Instead, ECCnet utilizes separate legal requirements for customer use, and it is not subject to 3rd party audits or certification requirements that are mandated for GDSN compliant solutions. How can any Canadian business gain benefits using a solution that operates outside of global best practices? It can’t. This is why ECCnet will not work, especially for Canadian Healthcare.

1 Industry Canada – Size & Structure of Canadian Pharmaceutical Industry

2 GS1 Data Integrity & Global Standards Management Process

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