In February 2014, GS1 announced the launch of a testing phase to exchange GS1 messages over the PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure. PEPPOL provides a communication network accessed by IT service provider Access Points that share a common methodology for exchanging standards-based electronic documents, based on PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specifications (BIS). The use of PEPPOL can substantially reduce the effort and cost associated with the exchange of electronic data between trading partners and be a catalyst for SME adoption of electronic business.
GS1 is a not-for-profit international non-governmental organisation that develops and maintains standards for supply and demand chains across multiple sectors. GS1 has over two million member companies across the world, executing more than six billion transactions daily using GS1 standards. GS1 works with communities of trading partners, industry organisations, governments and technology providers.
The aim of GS1, in the short-term, is to run a proof-of-concept scenario for GS1 eCom messages (EANCOM and GS1 XML) to be transported through the PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure. Going forward, GS1 wants to introduce the use of PEPPOL to the wider GS1 community, targeting both public sector suppliers and major retailers, globally.
“We want to minimise divergences between public and private sector eBusiness methods, re-using technology standards in which organisations have invested,” said Douglas Hill, Chief Operating Officer, GS1 Denmark, responsible for OpenPEPPOL activities within the GS1 community. “The PEPPOL transport infrastructure is scalable and this has been proven through adoption across several countries and industry sectors.”
Through the PEPPOL Access Point, GS1 will start testing the exchange of post-award messages such as GS1 eOrders and eInvoices (EANCOM and GS1 XML) based on synchronised master data over the PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure in the coming weeks. Master data is a supply chain philosophy in electronic data management that uses identification keys for party and item product data instead of textual descriptions. This practice is in place by most of the major suppliers and retailers in the world and favoured for its ability to automate data processing and increase data quality once the investments in shared master data repositories have been made.
Users of GS1 XML and EANCOM messages will support PEPPOL BIS for their business partners connected to the PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure that require this format and adhere to their specific national specifications, for example in Norway. This approach will also enable digital business interoperability with SMEs and others, such as a majority of public sector entities, not utilising the master data approach.
The decision to open up the PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure to the GS1 community is of significant importance for developments of global interoperability and many-to-many connectivity.
“The PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure is generic in its nature, so it can be seen as a natural next step to open it for use for other business message types and domains,” said André Hoddevik, OpenPEPPOL Secretary General. “PEPPOL BIS remains a common denominator for business process interoperability over the PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure in the public procurement domain and beyond, but it is also very interesting to use the network for other high volume business message types. GS1 has the potential to expand the take-up of PEPPOL significantly and we look forward to cooperate during the testing phase.”
PEPPOL, originally an EU co-funded project under the ICT Policy Support Programme (PSP) in the Competitiveness Innovation framework Programme (CIP), set up to address interoperability issues in electronic public procurement, provides a framework enabling many-to-many connectivity and a set of technical specifications that can be implemented in existing eProcurement solutions. It has now evolved into an international non-profit association, OpenPEPPOL AISBL, with approximately 100 members from both private and public organisations.