News Column

Patent Application Titled "Data Acquisition, Normalization, and Exchange in a Retail Ecosystem" Published Online

August 26, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors Samaha, Luke (Minneapolis, MN); Zielieke, La Moine (Knapp, WI); Bjerstedt, Scott (Brooklyn Park, MN); Bolduc, Scott (Prior Lake, MN), filed on January 31, 2014, was made available online on August 14, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Sps Commerce, Inc.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The background description provided herein is for the purpose of generally presenting the context of the disclosure. Work of the presently named inventors, to the extent it is described in this background section, as well as aspects of the description that may not otherwise qualify as prior art at the time of filing, are neither expressly nor impliedly admitted as prior art against the present disclosure.

"The supply chain management industry serves thousands of retailers around the world, speeding the ordering, fulfillment, and disposition of goods and services from tens of thousands of suppliers. Additional participants in this market include distributors, third-party logistics providers, manufacturers, fulfillment and warehousing providers, factoring firms, and sourcing companies. This network of participants can be defined as a retail ecosystem comprised of a network of organizations, including suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors, government agencies, and others involved in the delivery of a specific product or service through both competition and cooperation. The idea is that each business in the 'ecosystem' affects, and is affected by, the others, creating a constantly evolving relationship in which each business must be flexible and adaptable in order to survive, as in a biological ecosystem.

"Supply chain management solutions in a retail ecosystem must address trading partners' needs for integration, collaboration, connectivity, visibility, and data analytics to improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency with which goods are ordered and supplied. A significant hurdle in addressing such concerns is the sheer number of connections that exist between retailers, suppliers, and other trading participants of the retail ecosystem. In view of the foregoing, conventional communications standards have not generally permitted efficient connection between these retailers, suppliers, or other trading participants. Despite the use of data formats with standardized syntax, the exchange of data or information under conventional methods has been performed in the context of a specific, one-to-one, sender/receiver relationship within a retail ecosystem, with the sender and receiver each carefully parsing through the communications received from the other in order to access the necessary or desired data.

"Accordingly, further improvements in normalization methods for more efficient automation of the exchange of data between various trading partners is needed. Specifically, there is a need to develop systems and methods to reduce or eliminate the inefficiencies of current supply chain management data intake and to develop systems and methods for rapidly integrating and managing such intake data. More specifically, there is a need for improved systems and methods for data acquisition, normalization, and exchange in a retail ecosystem. Still further, there is a need for more efficient systems and methods for managing the connections that exist between trading partners of the retail ecosystem, as well as the integration, customization, and servicing of each new trading partner connection."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The following presents a simplified summary of one or more embodiments of the present disclosure in order to provide a basic understanding of such embodiments. This summary is not an extensive overview of all contemplated embodiments, and is intended to neither identify key or critical elements of all embodiments, nor delineate the scope of any or all embodiments.

"The present disclosure, in one embodiment, relates to a method for normalizing and exchanging document data relating to an exchange of goods between trading partners in a retail ecosystem. The method may include acquiring electronic document data from a first trading partner through an electronic network, the electronic document data provided in a first format and relating to a document type utilized by the first trading partner in exchanging goods between one or more other trading partners in the retail ecosystem. The method may also include transforming the electronic document data to a normalized format based on a dynamic map object for the document type generated based on a first specification model defined by the first trading partner. The first specification model may define relationships between data specifications of the first trading partner for the document type and data specifications for the normalized format for the document type. The transformed electronic document data may be stored in the normalized format in a normalized data storage repository comprised of one or more computer readable storage devices. The method may further include de-normalizing the transformed electronic document data from the normalized format to a second format based on a dynamic map object for the document type generated based on a second specification model defined by a second trading partner. Similar to the first specification model, the second specification model may define relationships between data specifications of the second trading partner for the document type and data specifications for the normalized format for the document type. The de-normalized electronic document data may then be transmitted in the second format to the second trading partner through the electronic network.

"In some embodiments, acquiring electronic document data from a first trading partner through an electronic network may include acquiring the electronic document data through a universal adapter module, permitting polling of one or more of the first trading partner's systems for new document data and pulling the new document data therefrom. In some embodiments, the method may further include storing the electronic document data provided in a first format in a storage repository comprised of one or more computer readable storage devices. In further embodiments, the transformation of the electronic document data to a normalized format may generally be independent of where the electronic document data is destined. In additional embodiments, the first specification model defined by the first trading partner may also define one or more data constraints for data within the electronic document data. Accordingly, transforming the electronic document data to a normalized format may include validating data within the electronic document data based on the one or more data constraints defined by the first trading partner. In further embodiments, the method may include dynamic routing of normalized data to two or more trading partners. For example, in some embodiments, the method may further include de-normalizing the transformed electronic document data from the normalized format to a third format based on a dynamic map object for the document type generated based on a third specification model defined by a third trading partner, the third specification model defining relationships between data specifications of the third trading partner for the document type and data specifications for the normalized format for the document type. The de-normalized electronic document data may then be sent in the third format to the third trading partner through the electronic network. In some embodiments, a document rules engine may modify the electronic document data based on specifications defined by the second trading party relating to at least one of an identification of the first trading party and an identification of a relationship between the first and second trading partners. In additional embodiments, de-normalizing the transformed electronic document data from the normalized format may include modifying the electronic document data based on data cross-referenced from data sources other than the electronic document data. Similarly, in some embodiments, the method may include correlating the electronic document data acquired from the first trading partner with other document data acquired by another trading partner based on data within the electronic document data from the first trading partner, so as to correlate related documents.

"The present disclosure, in another embodiment, relates to a system for normalizing and exchanging document data relating to an exchange of goods between trading partners in a retail ecosystem. The system may include a data intake module, operably connected with an electronic network, acquiring electronic document data from a first trading partner through the electronic network, the electronic document data provided in a first format and relating to a document type utilized by the first trading partner in exchanging goods between one or more other trading partners in the retail ecosystem. The system may also include one or more transformation engines receiving the electronic document data from the intake module and transforming the electronic document data to a normalized format based on a dynamic map object for the document type generated based on a first specification model defined by the first trading partner. The one or more transformation engines may also de-normalize the transformed electronic document data from the normalized format to a second format based on a dynamic map object for the document type generated based on a second specification model defined by a second trading partner. The first specification model may define relationships between data specifications of the first trading partner for the document type and data specifications for the normalized format for the document type. Likewise, the second specification model may define relationships between data specifications of the second trading partner for the document type and data specifications for the normalized format for the document type. The system may include a normalized data storage repository, comprised of one or more computer readable storage devices, storing the transformed electronic document data in the normalized format. The system may also include a data export module, operably connected with the electronic network, transmitting the de-normalized electronic document data in the second format to the second trading partner through the electronic network.

"In one embodiment, the system may further include an Internet-based user interface, accessible over an electronic network, through which each trading partner of the retail ecosystem may define one or more specification models for one or more corresponding document types. In further embodiments, the Internet-based user interface may be a graphical user interface through which each trading partner of the retail ecosystem may define its one or more specification models using graphical interface widgets, without requiring an underlying understanding of computer programming code. In still further embodiments, the Internet-based user interface may include a trading partner accessible programming code editing pane, permitting a trading partner to utilize computer programming code to define at least a portion of its one or more specification models.

"In some embodiments, the system may further include a transformation library, comprised of one or more computer readable storage devices, storing the dynamic map objects. In some embodiments, the system may further include a document rules engine modifying the electronic document data based on specifications defined by the second trading party relating to at least one of an identification of the first trading party and an identification of a relationship between the first and second trading partners. In still further embodiments, the system may have the ability to dynamically route normalized data to two or more trading partners. In this regard, the one or more transformation engines further de-normalize the transformed electronic document data from the normalized format to a third format based on a dynamic map object for the document type generated based on a third specification model defined by a third trading partner, wherein the third specification model defines relationships between data specifications of the third trading partner for the document type and data specifications for the normalized format for the document type. The data export module may thus further transmit the de-normalized electronic document data in the third format to the third trading partner through the electronic network.

"The present disclosure, in yet another embodiment, relates to a method for normalizing and exchanging document data relating to an exchange of goods between trading partners in a retail ecosystem. The method may include acquiring electronic documents from a plurality of sending trading partners through an electronic network, each electronic document from the sending trading partners provided in a format corresponding to which trading partner the electronic document came from, and each electronic document having a document type. The method may transform the electronic documents to a normalized format based on dynamic map objects, each relating to a corresponding document type, the map objects generated based on specification models defined by the trading partners, the specification models defining relationships between data specifications of the trading partners for the document types and data specifications for the normalized format for the document types. The method may further store the transformed electronic documents in the normalized format in a normalized data storage repository comprised of one or more computer readable storage devices. Further yet, the method may de-normalize each transformed electronic document from the normalized format to one or more output formats based on the dynamic map objects for the corresponding document type and transmit the de-normalized electronic documents in the one or more output formats to receiving trading partners through the electronic network. In some embodiments, transformations occurring during the transforming of electronic documents to a normalized format may be isolated from the transformations occurring during the de-normalizing of transformed electronic documents from the normalized format.

"While multiple embodiments are disclosed, still other embodiments of the present disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which shows and describes illustrative embodiments of the invention. As will be realized, the various embodiments of the present disclosure are capable of modifications in various obvious aspects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter that is regarded as forming the various embodiments of the present disclosure, it is believed that the invention will be better understood from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying Figures, in which:

"FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a data acquisition, normalization and exchange method and system in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure.

"FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a data acquisition, normalization and exchange method and system in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure.

"FIG. 3 is an illustration of an example user interface for creating specification models to generate data map objects for the transformation library.

"FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of a data acquisition, normalization and exchange method and system in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure."

For more information, see this patent application: Samaha, Luke; Zielieke, La Moine; Bjerstedt, Scott; Bolduc, Scott. Data Acquisition, Normalization, and Exchange in a Retail Ecosystem. Filed January 31, 2014 and posted August 14, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=916&p=19&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140807.PD.&OS=PD/20140807&RS=PD/20140807

Keywords for this news article include: Sps Commerce Inc, Information Technology, Information and Data Storage.

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