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Ahead of the game at GS1 Global Forum

Late February, we presented at GS1 Global Forum in Brussels, which we're tempted to call "The equivalent for global standardisation of the World Economic Forum in Davoz". For us – and for many others, apparently – it became obvious how we're at the cutting edge of the creation of an infrastructure for digital product passports (and beyond); both conceptually and practically.

GS1, an organisation, not a business

To fully appreciate the importance of GS1 Global Forum, you need to consider that it is not a business but an organisation. No top-down steering, no "Our CEO has decided this strategy and it's our task to implement it". It's rather a decentralised organisation with a shared vision, but that implements it based on local contexts and in cooperation with local businesses. More inspiration, knowledge-sharing and consensus than command and control, in short.

And Global Forum is where inspiration, knowledge-sharing happens, and some consensus. Speaking there and making an impression is what matters.

Local conditions influence standardisation focus

Another natural consequence of the way GS1 operates is that national priorities vary with the composition and context of local business. Priorities and activities differ depending on country size, mix of industries and level of internationalisation. Obviously, a small country, heavily depending on international trade thinks differently about standardisation than a country with a massive domestic market.

Creating "the fabric of standards"

The "shared vision" of GS1 across the Globe is the creation and maintenance of "the fabric of standards". For modern business to work, standards are imperative. If you manufacture your own devices from scratch, you can design them as you please, but as soon as you want to be able to combine some part of your device with something made by someone else, you have to make sure they fit, right? In today's global and digital business, you need to make sure your components, data and everything fits with everything else. That's why we have standards. And they can't just be theoretical, they need to be both operational AND interoperational, they have to work in practice and sync with each other. That's "the fabric of standards". That's what GS1 do, in close cooperation with representatives from industry.

Heavy focus on circularity and digital product passports

It was obvious that the dominant theme currently in the world standardisation community is circularity and that the most tangible representation of it is digital product passports, soon to be introduced by the European Union (and thereby impacting and setting a precedent for anyone wanting to business with the EU).

The Blue Cromos approach stood out, catching attention from delegates

It was thrilling to experience the attention raised among delegates from our solution for managing digital product passports and the way we have designed it.

  •  A solution based entirely on standards – From the outset, we have designed our solution based on international standards. Nothing proprietary. This ensures compliance and interoperability with other systems.

  • A live, working solution – While others may have prototypes, we have a live solution, albeit small scale with limited products. The small scale is due to the availability of data, not the solution

  • Using live data, owned by dealers, not us – The data accessed in the Blue Cromos solution is owned by the suppliers of the products displayed, from their systems. Not any central database, not copied over to our systems.

  • Openness and interoperability – The Blue Cromos solution is designed for open access and interoperability while it seems as if the few available alternatives rather lock producers in with monolithic systems of dominant system suppliers.

  • Addressing Business-to-Business too – Each consumer purchase is preceded by a long chain of B-to-B transactions for components and input materials. Yet, to our great surprise, it seems as Blue Cromos is unique in us having considered the need for handling digital product passports in B-to-B purchasing, both in dedicated solutions and through integration in existing purchasing and supply chain systems.

Encouraging and somewhat surprising

We returned from GS1 Global Forum, encouraged and somewhat surprised.

Encouraged by the response we received by delegates in general and several GS1 Member Organisations ("GS1 language" for member countries). "Others talk, but you have done and proven".

Surprised by realising that what is obvious and natural to us – standards, openness, interoperability and B-to-B services - seems to be cutting edge for others.

We can't help seeing parallells with the software industry which used to be all based on the logic of selling big, monolithic systems that locked customers in, but which is now all about agile, cloud-based, interoperable solutions, creating new business models and entirely new opportunities.

We don't see any point in starting all over in the 1960's when creating the infrastructure for digital product passports. Do you?

Further background:

At GS1 Global Forum, the Blue Cromos approach stood out, catching attention from delegates It was thrilling to experience the attention raised among delegates from our solution for managing digital product passports and the way we have designed it.  A solution based entirely on standards A live, working solution Using live data, owned by dealers, not us Openness and interoperability Addressing Business-to-Business too
Ahead of the pack

Image by Black_Kira on iStock


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