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February 5, 2007 

 Q&A: Robert Noe, CEO of 1SYNC in Chicago, on Enforcing Data Standards 8/15/2006
The mission of Going Global, which appears on MidwestBusiness.com on most Tuesdays, is to educate and inform Midwest technology companies on what local technology companies are doing internationally so other firms can learn from the successes of like-minded peers.

CHICAGO – Robert Noe is responsible for the strategy and operations of 1SYNC in Chicago and for ensuring its customer community receives value from data synchronization.

In part three of a three-part Q&A, CEO Noe sat down with international expert Michael Muth to discuss how to enforce data standards.

Michael Muth: What is the global certifying body for your standards?
Bob Noe: The global standard management process (GSMP) provides certification under GS1. The GSMP functions and develops standards based on industry and business requirements.

MM commentary: This is from GS1.org: “The GSMP is where GS1 standards are built and maintained. The GSMP has been the engine that powers the entire GS1 system of standards.” I’m not sure if this is an unbiased and objective certifying body.

MM: How can you enforce standards compliance across borders?
BN: It’s voluntary to comply with our standards and we don’t enforce them. Still, they are self-policed, which can be much more influential than enforcement imposed by someone else. Companies have realized the benefits of synchronizing accurate data through the standards network today.

Where required, we try to educate communities about the standards process. We work with local member organizations and experienced GDSN-certified data pools in local markets to promote standards.

MM commentary: In many ways, voluntary standards can be more easily enforced by peers than imposed standards enforced by an overarching body.

MM: How do you address different security and privacy laws across borders?
BN: That’s certainly an important point and we need to address that. We have built in security channels in our solution so information can be viewed only by approved parties. As we see a lot of price and promotional data, we have to maintain the trust of our customers.

MM commentary: Some countries in Europe deny service providers from transferring personal data out of a country. Data can be stored on a country-by-country basis rather than in one centralized European database. This can be more expensive.

MM: Are there any particular countries that create difficulties in meeting standards?
BN: Not really. Each country may have specific needs and limitations that are unique to them. There may be a disparity of compatibility in technologies in different countries. Some countries may be more advanced in their technology where others may not be as sophisticated.

MM commentary: Problems follow customers, so if a client can’t access data in a country, 1SYNC can’t synchronize it for them.

MM: Which countries are technically challenged to meet worldwide standards?
BN: I wouldn’t single out any particular country. We work at the level of our customers, so if they’re able to conduct their business, we’re able to work together with them on that. There is no technical threshold. All one needs to be able to do is access the Internet to begin synchronizing data.

The limiter is typically the ability of our partners to get their trading partner community to adopt this as a business process. It’s the business acumen that’s more of a constraint than the technology.

MM commentary: Many countries are skipping installation of wireline phones and going straight to wireless so they can get Internet access where none was available before. However, those who surf the Internet aren’t necessarily schooled in management, which is a business issue many technologists encounter all over the world.

MM: Why do you have a dot-org URL rather than dot-com?
BN: We are a non-profit organization – we are not a for-profit – so we use dot-org instead of dot-com. We were intended to be a low-cost, vendor-neutral solution provider. Interestingly, Transora was for-profit, but now that we’re a part of the GS1 family and we’re dedicated to the adoption of standards and data synchronization, we’re a non-profit company.

Still, that doesn’t change the way we do business. We are still an aggressive company with the intention of maximizing the value of the data synchronization process.

MM commentary: I question whether an organization that isn’t rewarded for maximizing its revenues and absolutely minimizing its costs can compete on the same level as a for-profit business. However, Transora was for-profit and ultimately failed as evidenced from its acquisition by UCCNet, so maybe a non-profit should play a bigger role in this space.

MM: How do you recruit and qualify your certified solution and preferred partners?
BN: We don’t recruit partners per se. We work with technology companies that are certified by us to help our customers implement our solution.

MM commentary: It sounds like they certify systems integrators or value-added resellers (VARs) just like Microsoft and IBM. I still how wonder how they find them.

MM: What were the advantages and disadvantages internationally of being based here?
BN: Being near O’Hare is a big advantage. We can get some places faster than from the east coast. Also, many of our fast-moving consumer goods customers are located here (such as Kraft Foods) and it’s good to be near them. Chicago is a well-connected city and I like it here.

MM commentary: Though many of Transora’s original operations remain in Chicago, 1SYNC’s base is now located in New Jersey.

Michael Muth is managing director of GATA, an international business development consultancy that helps technology companies build international partnerships. He can be reached at mike@intlalliances.com.
Click here for Muth’s full biography.

Previous Columns in 2006:
Q&A: Robert Noe, CEO of Chicago-Based 1SYNC, on Data Standards (8/8/2006)
Q&A: Robert Noe, CEO of Chicago-Based 1SYNC, on Data Synchronization (8/1/2006)
Q&A: Mike Jakob of Sportvision in Chicago on Creating Sports Innovation (7/11/2006)
Q&A: Mike Jakob of Chicago-Based Sportvision on What’s Coming Next (6/27/2006)
Q&A: Mike Jakob of Sportvision in Chicago on Enhancement Technologies (6/20/2006)
Q&A: Christos Fotiadis of ProtoGroup in Chicago on Japanese Culture (6/6/2006)
Q&A: Christos Fotiadis of ProtoGroup in Chicago on Japanese Expansion (5/30/2006)
Q&A: Christos Fotiadis of ProtoGroup in Chicago on Compliance, Partners (5/16/2006)
Q&A: Lakeview Technology Founder Bill Merchantz on Trade Shows (4/4/2006)
Q&A: Lakeview Technology Founder Bill Merchantz on International Partners (3/28/2006)
Q&A: Lakeview Technology Founder Bill Merchantz on Overseas Expansion (3/7/2006)
Q&A: Steven Ganster of Technomic Asia on Chinese Readiness (2/7/2006)
Q&A: Steven Ganster of Technomic Asia on Chinese, U.S. Differences (1/24/2006)
Q&A: Steven Ganster of Technomic Asia on Approaching Chinese Expansion (1/17/2006)
Click for 2005 column archive.
Click for 2004 column archive.


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