GS1 Portugal Links Supply Chain Communication to Future Opportunities

Microsoft Azure amps up information sharing with faster back-end processes, flexible customization, and future-ready systems.

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Executive summary

Driven by its mission of supply chain innovation and facilitating communication, standards pioneer GS1 Portugal leveraged Microsoft Azure to enhance its data exchange platform. Thanks to the new cloud-based system, the organization offers stronger support for member-companies’ current information sharing needs and opens them up to future opportunities.

João de Castro Guimarães, Executive Director: “Microsoft Azure integration with Sync PT, a service provided by Codit, allowed GS1 Portugal to develop a tailor-made project, addressing our most relevant needs. This initiative enabled us to embrace progress
  • Challenge
  • Approach
  • Results

The Challenge

GS1 Portugal is a global organization dedicated to streamlining supply chain processes through standardized data sharing. The non-profit group creates structure in product and service communications through normalized standards, such as bar codes and data sharing networks. This common language then enables stakeholders to accurately and securely identify, capture, share, and use information worldwide. To evolve with expanding user needs in its Portuguese markets, GS1 Portugal wanted to strengthen its self-built data exchange enabler with simplified back-end governance as well as advanced front-end customization.

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Providing a smooth information flow throughout supply chains, GS1 Portugal’s standards enable users – from suppliers to retailers – to reduce paperwork and administration costs, saving both time and money. Though mostly unnoticed, these supply chain standards define ways to store and transfer data, optimizing processes in many areas of our lives, including retail, healthcare, transport and logistics, foodservice, technical industries, and humanitarian logistics.

One such standard, called the GDSN (Global Data Synchronization Network), helps stakeholders to more effectively distribute product data in a single point of exchange – allowing them to publish information to and retrieve it from the network according to their specific criteria. Easing these back-end interactions, the GDSN’s local data pool serves as a bridge that connects the network to the organizations and the data they need.

To remain relevant in the real world and ensure top data quality and security, the organization strives to stay ahead not only of changes within each of the markets it serves but also of advancements in information sharing. As technologies and trends evolve, standards such as the GDSN must advance with them. When the European food industry imposed new regulations requiring the digitalization of food product information, suppliers and retailers scrambled to find a solution to transfer information from physical labels to share within a digital environment.

GS1 Portugal stepped up with a swift, easy-to-use solution to resolve immediate needs, developing a local node for the GDSN called Sync PT – the first of its kind in the country. Sync PT works as an abstraction layer, or enabling gateway, to facilitate complex back-end interactions between the data pool and users, simplifying the process to make product data usable and shareable.

After successfully serving its local community for several years, GS1 Portugal saw that it was time to upgrade Sync PT into a longer-term solution. The organization required a redesign that would better serve markets’ growing demands, be easier to update with necessary improvements, and provide a flexible interface that users could customize to their needs. The organization turned to its long-time trusted partner Codit to modernize its existing platform, transferring its traditional applications to a cloud-based strategy.

The Codit team offers an important combination: Their strong expertise and focus, together with their accessibility and flexibility to adjust.

Nuno Azevedo Digital Services Director @ GS1 Portugal

The Approach

To enhance performance and future-proof its system, GS1 Portugal knew that an Azure cloud strategy would offer the best scalability with minimum upfront infrastructure investment plus maximum risk mitigation. Collaborating with Codit’s Azure specialists, the organization used this opportunity to redesign and rearchitect its network node, Sync PT, with all the innovative advantages that cloud services offer.

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GS1 Portugal wanted to enhance its Sync PT network node so that it could evolve with its customers’ needs as well as enable them to benefit from future developments and technologies. Combining its experience of Azure as the base of its infrastructure with the cost-effectiveness, security, and scalability of a cloud strategy, the organization chose Microsoft Azure as the best fit.

“Our main goal was to do something in terms of architecture, in terms of design, in terms of infrastructure that would be a good solution for the present and an even better solution for the future.” Nuno Azevedo, Digital Services Director, GS1 Portugal

Having worked closely with the data integration specialists for several years, GS1 Portugal was confident in Codit’s technical expertise and commitment for a smooth transition to the cloud. The organization had already experienced first-hand Codit’s deep level of specialized knowledge and its collaborative partnership with Microsoft. As one of Microsoft’s Blackbelt Partners, Codit has a direct link to Microsoft’s Product Group, reinforcing its level of support and services for its customers.

“We worked with GS1 Portugal to modernize its platform into an Azure solution, implementing services (including Azure Logic Apps and Azure Functions) to simplify the existing platform’s governance tasks, such as managing code, and expand its user customization options,” explains Ricardo Marques, Codit Lead Architect.

Together, the teams redesigned Sync PT through three main project phases:

  • Updating database and creating accurate data models
  • Building code structure to support new operability and functionality
  • Testing Azure objects to ensure they were usable with updated Microsoft technologies

Results

Through its new cloud-based system, GS1 Portugal’s network node, Sync PT, continues to seamlessly support users’ communications but now with supercharged performance behind the scenes and front-end customization options. Microsoft Azure services increased the network node’s efficiency, facilitating supply chain processes for today and future-proofing the solution for tomorrow.

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Innovation is at the very core of GS1 Portugal, and its new cloud strategy was the logical next step forward in its long history of streamlining supply chain communication. Equipped with Azure cloud computing, the enabler that once helped supply chain stakeholders move into the digital era, now positions them for success in the evolution of new eras to come.

Originally deployed into production in March of 2018, the new version of the Sync PT node now offers users a more personalized user experience with more agile back-end processes, more efficient code maintenance, and reduced costs.

Through its well-organized Azure cloud structure, the revamped Sync PT is now six times more efficient than the original platform. The upgraded architecture requires much less time from the support team for governance, – making it easier to technically resolve issues and implement changes such as new features or models.

Alongside streamlining present-day processes, Sync PT has also opened pathways to potential future benefits. The scalable, future-ready system allows GS1 Portugal and its users to stay ahead of new developments, equipping them to take advantage of advancing technologies.

“Now we have a system with a good outlook into the future. Cloud-based platforms, such as Artificial Intelligence, are the areas where big companies are investing. These types of innovations will be incorporated into the cloud, if not now then in the near future. And by having our system on a cloud-based platform like Microsoft Azure, we will have the benefits of those new developments and be able to easily incorporate them into our system.” Nuno Azevedo, Digital Services Director, GS1 Portugal

Looking forward, GS1 Portugal aims to even further evolve the platform by expanding data syndication and bringing customization to a new level for customers.

A word from the client

“For us a cloud-based platform was the way to move forward. It’s scalable, represents minimal investment in terms of infrastructure and maintenance, and virtually eliminates risk.”

Nuno Azevedo Digital Services Director @ GS1 Portugal

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