Friday, October 22, 2010

Repost: Publishing and Global Data Synchronization

Originally published on March 19, 2007

Over the past several months, I have commented on issues related to the publishing supply chain and the need to revamp the relationships between supply chain partners to create a more efficient business environment. Closer integration across the publishing supply chain will result in better efficiency and effectiveness leading to higher revenue and profitability. While sharing information between partners is growing in frequency, there has been only limited movement towards a more holistic approach to addressing supply chain issues.

The potential evolution of metadata requirements for the industry is also a theme I have addressed and I have suggested that base level bibliographic information has become a commodity. In recent years BISG has proactively reviewed the potential for a single “(Global) data synchronization (Network)” application for the publishing business. This GDSN application would sit as a central hub of base-level bibliographic information that would be accessible to all industry participants. Fees would be assessed to participants but would be fairly modest given the experience with similar applications in other industries. (In fact, some large publishers are already subscribers to GDSN data pools due to their business operations in non-retail markets such as big box retailing).

The management of a GDSN data pool is not an insignificant task and were BISG to sponsor the development of a publishing data pool it is logical to believe that a manager of this data-pool would be required. It is unlikely that BISG would want to manage this themselves and would be more likely to create an RFP for the application. A fully implemented GDSN solution for the publishing industry could significantly improve data flow and data accuracy across the supply chain not least because there would be one central location for read and write product details.

Having said that, there is an assumption that the internal data provided externally to the GDSN data pool would be accurate. Unfortunately I know this is not generally the case based on my experience at Bowker. Since the launch of Amazon and the subsequent adoption of ONIX, publisher data is significantly better than it was in the past but once you move away from all but the top 200-300 publishers data quality is a real problem. Businesses must continue to focus on product information and it is likely that service providers such as Netread will continue to play a large role in data supply.

The implementation of GDSN will lead to other integrated applications that will support further improvements in the supply chain. These include RFID, collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment, vendor managed inventory and scan based trading. All of which have been implemented in other industries and in publishing would begin to mimic my suggested Intelligent Publishing Supply Network (IPSN). Among the benefits that other industries have proven is possible are,
  • Increased order accuracy
  • Ability to identify and correct internal data discrepancies
  • Decrease retailer out-of-stocks
  • Realize more timely replenishment orders
  • Reduce the likelihood of retailer returns
  • Establish the foundation for adopting RFID
RFID tagging could create the opportunity for significant gains in operational efficiency within the book world. The RFID tag carries only minimal data – the Electronic Product Code (EPC) - (sometimes referred to as the electronic barcode) and the tag can either be read only or read/write. Even in isolated (non-networked) applications within a book store or a distribution center the results in efficiency would be profound. Within a full RFID implementation across a supply chain, product level data is accessible from a central location (database) at any point in the supply chain providing details on what the product is and where it came from. In tandem, the location of that item is made available centrally so that tracking details can be analyzed and acted upon. Wide spread implementations will be limited until tag costs decrease and some operational issues, such as pallet level accuracy (some tags can’t be read if they are buried on a pallet), are addressed.

The future for an efficient book supply chain is playing out in other industries such as consumer products, hardware and the grocery chain. As Publisher revenues become more bifurcated across multiple distribution networks, making physical distribution more cost effective becomes critical, because less revenue will be generated from physical distribution reducing scale effects and squeezing profit margins. It remains for the industry via BISG to lead in the direction of a more efficient and effective supply chain.

Qualified Metadata
Supply Chain 1/2

1 comment:

zliang said...

hi, have you thought about what other piece of information should be recorded in the SBT?