CARREFOUR PUSHES FOR GLOBAL DATA SYNC

Paris-based Carrefour is one of the international supermarket operators most committed to global data synchronization, an effort led by Jeremy Hollows, its director of business-to-business.Hollows, a frequent speaker on the topic, made his latest presentation last month at the National Retail Federation's convention and expo in New York, where he outlined Carrefour's progress in data synchronization

Paris-based Carrefour is one of the international supermarket operators most committed to global data synchronization, an effort led by Jeremy Hollows, its director of business-to-business.

Hollows, a frequent speaker on the topic, made his latest presentation last month at the National Retail Federation's convention and expo in New York, where he outlined Carrefour's progress in data synchronization and obstacles that remain.

"The benefits of data synchronization are in line with the work of A.T. Kearney and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young," he said. "We are convinced the value is there." The lack of data integrity, he observed, "is one of the biggest causes of inefficiency and the biggest impediment to progress in most retail organizations," both large and small.

Data synchronization, he noted, "delivers a much better running machine. Our people can focus on customers and not on fixing bad data."

Hollows stressed that Carrefour, as an international operator, strongly supports the Global Data Synchronization vision -- the seamless, standardized flow of data via a global registry -- being developed by global standards bodies like the Uniform Code Council, EAN and Global Commerce Initiative. "Even if you are a U.S.-based retailer, you have to understand your supply chain is global," he said.

But he complained that GDS is still "a work in progress." In particular, he said that UCCnet has not yet delivered a low-cost, standards-based global registry that operates outside of North America, though he added that this may change in midyear. He also contended that UCCnet and EPCGlobal, the new UCC/EAN organization developing standards for the electronic product code, are "at odds," preventing the creation of a single registry. (UCCnet did not respond to a request for comment.)

Hollows explained that to date, Carrefour has carried out data sync pilots in six countries, using technology from Trigo and SeeBeyond. In addition, the company developed a solid business case delivering both a home data pool and internal workflow/data alignment. "Last year we proved it worked," he said. "We proved 21 use cases with P&G in one country."

This year, said Hollows, Carrefour plans to build a "global model" in France and Spain, its two largest markets, beginning this month. By the end of the year, two other European countries will be engaged, followed next year by a rollout in Asia and Latin America.

This year, Carrefour wants "all the information needed to run the supply chain from all suppliers in France and Spain," said Hollows. Suppliers can use varying methods of communication, such as the Internet, EDI and data pools like Transora.