A closer look at the Global Data Synchronization Network
By Dan Dempsey
In today’s hyperconnected global marketplace, businesses need to share business-critical information across the entire value web. But since different businesses use different methods for governing and managing their data, a “common language” is needed to enable efficient, standardized, and synchronized information sharing. This is achieved via the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).
What is GDSN?
As defined by the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM), Global Data Synchronization (GDSN) is “a network of interoperable data pools and a Global Registry, the GS1 Global Registry, that allows the timely and ‘auditable’ distribution of certified standardized master data (Trade Item and Party) from a data source to a final data recipient of this information.” GDSN standards enable businesses to identify, capture, share, and utilize information using standards-based messages.
This global mechanism ensures that trading partners’ databases are updated in sync, enabling enhanced traceability and visibility of product and services. Abbott Laboratories (Abbott) and B. Braun, for one, joined the GDSN and leveraged certified data pools to enable compliant and efficient information exchange with FDA’s Global Unique Device Identification Database. French hospitals, on the other hand, implemented GS1 standards to enhance their health data management, improving traceability and reception of surgical instruments, medical devices, blood derivatives, and cytotoxic drugs, thereby enhancing patient safety.
The GDSN Network
Image source: GDSN Operations Manual Release 3.1
“Trade Items” and “Catalog Items”
In the GDSN, business-critical information is communicated in the form of Trade Items or Catalog Items. Trade Items are information about any Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN)-identified products or services that “may be priced, ordered, or invoiced at any point in any supply chain.” Which types of information is processed by data sources, data recipients, and data pools depend on their agreed-to communication protocols, providing enough leeway both for data sources and data recipients.
Catalog Items, on the other hand, are the content of a Trade Item that describes product or service consumption. Catalog Items are “in-network” information that are strictly validated against GDSN standards and processed using GDSN standard XML messages to ensure that data pools use data in a GDSN-compliant manner. Each Catalog Item is “uniquely defined within the GS1 Global Registry using the item’s GTIN, information provider’s Global Location Number (GLN), and Target Market.”
GDSN Actors and Their Functions
The GDSN consists of a Data Source, a Source Data Pool, the GS1 Global Registry, a Recipient Data Pool, and a Data Recipient.
A Data Source can be a product manufacturer, a distributor, or a service vendor. It maintains and sends – in any agreed format – the trade information that it wants to be registered into the GDSN.
The Source Data Pool processes the trade information forwarded by a data source, validates it against the GDSN Validation Rules, and registers it as a Catalog Item in the GS1 Global Registry using standard XML Messages.
The GS1 Global Registry performs item-subscription matching and facilitates the standardized and compliant registration and distribution of all information across the entire network.
The Recipient Data Pool receives subscriptions from a Data Recipient and registers it in the GS1 Global Registry. It receives new and updated catalog information from a Source Data Pool, and forwards it as a Trade Item to the Data Recipient.
A Data Recipient is any business entity – be it a medical organization, retailer, distributor, consumers’ group, or manufacturer – that subscribes to Trade Item information.
GDSN enables automated notifications of any GDSN-verified updates on the Data Source’s databases. Data Recipients have the liberty to accept or reject new or updated Trade Items.
Future-Proofing Your Enterprise with GDSN
GDSN simplifies, streamlines, and standardizes business-critical information processing across the entire supply chain, allowing businesses to ensure efficient information exchange with their trading partners around the globe, satisfy the needs of “content-hungry consumers,” and improve product and service visibility and traceability. But in order to reap the benefits of GDSN, businesses must ensure data quality beginning at the lowest tier before they send it forward for GDSN registration and synchronization – which can only be achieved by adopting a data-centric approach to supply chain management.