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TrueDemand, VeriSign to Enable EPC App

Software company TrueDemand is working with Internet services provider VeriSign to pull important product data into its demand-forecasting tool.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jan 25, 2006TrueDemand, a software company based in Los Gatos, Calif., says it has partnered with VeriSign to bring its first application to market later this month. The application will analyze Electronic Product Code RFID, point-of-sale (POS) and product data to enable retailers and manufacturers to keep store shelves stocked and ensure that product promotions are well executed. VeriSign will host the TrueDemand application, and TrueDemand will integrate EPC and product data from VeriSign's network into its demand forecasting application.

"The challenge that suppliers are going through right now is that in order to get any meaningful value out of their new RFID data, they have to combine it with point-of-sale and master [product] data," explains Raymond Blanchard, TrueDemand's vice president of business development. "They're finding that it's a huge internal effort to manage, clean, map and associate data. So with our partnership with VeriSign, we [will] help them both simplify and speed up the process of realizing value from RFID."

For several months, TrueDemand has been ramping up for its first application release. The company shared some of its plans with RFID Journal in August (see Software Startup Mines RFID's Value). The TrueDemand application will pull product data from the EPC Information Service (EPC IS), such as EPCs and the stock-keeping unit (SKU) information with which each EPC is associated. It will also pull RFID read event data from the EPC IS, including the location of the interrogators that read RFID tags, and the time and date of when the tag was read.

The EPC Information Service, which provides a means of storing product data for specific EPCs and sharing that information between trading partners, is generally part of the end user's RFID middleware layer. Using this data, the TrueDemand application will track products' movements through the supply chain, from the point of each EPC's commissioning and encoding onto a tag to the arrival of an item, case or pallet bearing that tag at a retail location. It will also pull RFID read event data, generated as the cases of tagged product are brought to the sales floor. This data will then be provided through a feedback system the retailer maintains.

In the case of Wal-Mart, that feedback will be delivered via its Retail Link extranet. Target uses a similar network called Partners Online. In the past, the data from these two retailers was not fed back to suppliers in the standardized format until the retailers agreed to begin testing an XML coding schema developed by EPCglobal's Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Business Action Group. The coding was designed to ease the burden of deciphering the RFID read events captured inside the retailer's facilities (see Target, Wal-Mart Share EPC Data). This standardized format will also make it easier for TrueDemand to leverage the feedback data, as well.

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