CHICAGO -- Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold is in the midst of "preparedness readiness" and testing for global data synchronization in four countries, according to Rhonda Horn, director of global adoption strategies, Ahold Global Standards, Braintree, Mass.
Horn described Ahold's efforts last week at a Close-Up session at the 2005 Food Marketing Institute show here at McCormick Place. Much of her presentation focused on ways retailers and suppliers could gear up internally for data synchronization.
Her co-presenter was Dawn Andre, vice president, collaborative professional service, WorldWide Retail Exchange, Alexandria, Va. WWRE is Ahold's data pool for data synchronization.
Horn said Ahold expects to roll out data synchronization "in production" at the rate of 50 suppliers per month later this year. "Before we turn that faucet on, we want to make sure we have all the right elements in place," she said.
Part of Ahold's preparation includes internal alignment and meeting requirements for the new Global Data Synchronization Network, as well as testing the network, which is run by the Uniform Code Council and EAN International (GS1). "We are doing an internal look at how we process information," she said. Ahold began this process in earnest a year ago, "when we put together a global organization to address data synchronization," she said.
Some of the current testing is taking place at Ahold division Giant of Carlisle, Pa. In Europe, Netherlands-based Albert Heijn, an Ahold company, has participated in a data synchronization study called Project Journey, conducted by Cap Gemini and the Global Commerce Initiative. The study showed that Albert Heijn used data synchronization to reduce data management efforts by 30%. Overall, Albert Heijn is in tests with more than 80 suppliers, said Horn.
Also in Europe, Ahold division ICA in Sweden and Norway is "looking at data requirements and process flows," said Horn.
Horn mentioned that as part of its work, Ahold has used the GDSLaunch Pad, a free tool created by FMI, Grocery Manufacturers of America, and Deloitte & Touche. "We use it to conduct interviews internally and calculate ROI" for data synchronization, she said. "It's also an educational tool that opens dialogue between vendors and our executives."
Horn acknowledged that data synchronization is not a "sexy topic." Nonetheless, she said, "data is an asset in your organization and you need to manage it as such."