The Common Thread Linking Every Industry at GS1 Connect 2017

What Brings Us Together: A Recap of GS1 Connect

Viva Las Vegas! This year’s GS1 Connect Conference brought professionals from across industries together to discuss the impact and importance of the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) deep in the belly of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. As we were bombarded with shiny Boulevard storefronts flashing the latest products, expansive buffet food, and sparkling billboards teasing Vegas entertainment, GS1 reminded us that much of what was tempting us wouldn’t be possible without our professions or the GDSN standards we strive to uphold. Unlike all the unsuspecting Vegas vacationers, we knew that the strategically placed over-the-top advertisements were simply the product content that customers demanded these days. Despite the Vegas-sized distractions powered by the product content we work so hard to manage, a key theme quickly emerged from my experience at GS1 Connect: no industry, from the grocery industry to retail to healthcare, has been spared from the power put in the hands of customers by the digital age.


It’s easy to believe, while you’re consumed with the day-to-day of your job and your industry, that you are the only one that’s feeling the pressure from a digital age that has completely changed the way customers make decisions. However, the sessions and professionals from essentially opposite industries at GS1 Connect revealed that no one is alone in their digital challenges. None of us are isolated from customers that hold computers in their hands, making them more empowered and educated than ever before. Everything from shopping for groceries to selecting a medical prescription has become an exercise of choice among many brands for deciding what product best solves a customer’s personal problem as quickly as possible.


As each industry tries to keep up with their customers by prescribing their own digital strategies, one constant remains: we all leverage GDSN standards to accomplish our digital goals. The universal use of GDSN as a part of digital strategy became very clear to me after interacting with professionals from two industries with seemingly nothing in common. While the healthcare industry uses GDSN for serialization, an anti-counterfeit drug effort that tracks drugs through the supply chain, the grocery industry traces key product-specific information, like Country of Origin, to ensure the integrity of their products until it reaches the customer’s hands. The two industries are as opposite as they come, but they can both agree that the digital age has made customers more demanding than ever, requiring the right information at the right time to make decisions.


The same customers that shop around for the best organic produce are also scouring the internet for the best pharmaceutical product for their health issues, and the fastest shipping on the apparel they desire. The practice of independent research reinforced by readily available devices is applied across every decision a customer makes, no matter what the industry. It’s easy to get lost in the very consumerism that our own customers crave when visiting Las Vegas, but GS1 Connect cut through the noise, surfacing the single greatest challenge for every industry: exceeding the expectations of digitally empowered customers. No industry has been spared by the digital age and prioritizing a digital strategy that includes standards such as GDSN should be embraced.

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