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This Week in IDEA | April 12, 2013

Our eNewsletter, This Week in IDEA, keeps you informed with the latest news and education about IDEA, our solutions and services, and our customers and partners. IDEA’s knowledgeable staff and other contributing writers share insights, resources and special offers to help you Unleash the power of e. Subscribe now to receive This Week in IDEA in your email inbox every other Thursday and add our RSS feed to your reader.


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Setting the Standard for Success: Q&A with the ISC Chair Ann Jaehn

Ann Jaehn, Director of Pricing at Thomas & Betts Corporation, is a familiar name to anyone who has been involved in the IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) in the past decade. Along with her work at Thomas & Betts, an IDEA Platinum-banded manufacturer, Ann recently added ISC Chair to her resume. Calling from Memphis, TN, Ann took some time to speak about her role at Thomas & Betts, the ISC, and what motivates her within the electrical industry.

What does your typical day look like in your current role as Director of Pricing at Thomas & Betts?

My main day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing the execution of the pricing strategy of each product line across all of our channels in the electrical division. I’m responsible for our data integrity, as well as the systems that support pricing and quotations globally.

Favorite aspect of this job?

I will tell you that no day is ever the same, no matter what. I enjoy working with data, I enjoy working with numbers, and I am motivated by making a positive impact on the company. That’s what keeps me going.

When did you first get involved with the ISC?

I first became involved in 2001, when I first got into pricing at Thomas & Betts. I hadn’t previously been exposed to standards, so they were brand new to me at that point. I’ve been involved ever since, because standards play a very vital part of the pricing and data integrity role.

How so?

Standards are crucial to my role, because I deal with data every day. The data that we touch not only runs our systems but also the systems of our distributors. The only way our industry can collaborate and do business together is to be as in sync and as automated as possible.

In what way do you see the work of the ISC impact the industry as a whole?

The crux of the Standards Committee is finding a way to make everything synced and automated, which makes it easier for manufacturers to work with their trading partners.

What has been your experience with the ISC thus far?

The best part has absolutely been making valuable friendships, both at distributor partners and with other manufacturers. We’re people who all want the same thing, which is the betterment of the industry. For me, the most rewarding part is the friendships and the people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know.

Now that you’re ISC Chair, how do you anticipate your role evolving?

As Chair, I would hope my role is to continue to encourage new involvement from many, expand the involvement to more manufacturers and distributors, and to continue to improve the B2B relationships within our industry.

You mentioned the importance of standards for both your day-to-day and the betterment of the industry. What is a common misperception of standards that you would like to clarify?

A major misperception is the lack of understanding of the benefits that standards can bring to an organization. Management does not always understand the value of standards and the resulting transactional efficiencies, so the resources are often not available to support and maintain the data infrastructure.

In that case, who are the types of people you would recommend get involved in the ISC?

There is a very strong core of IT and data-knowledgeable people involved, but I really think we need to expand interest and participation with more business roles, such as product and marketing management.

At Thomas & Betts, we’ve been successful by involving both IT and business management, who always work together and collaborate. We usually have at least three to five people at ISC meetings, typically split between business and IT, and that combination is critical to success for a company.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to do anything with my family, and I follow sports, particularly professional hockey and football. I enthusiastically cheer on my Pittsburgh teams!

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Italy is definitely one, and really anywhere there is a beach. Especially now; we were just at 29 degrees in Memphis this morning!

If you could meet anyone in the business world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would have been honored to meet Steve Jobs. He was a visionary and a creative genius. That would be amazing.

Anything else you’d like to share before we close our discussion?

I encourage both distributors and manufacturers to become more involved in shaping this industry, to volunteer, and to bring forth ideas or challenges that you face on a daily basis within your organization. You need to realize that others are often in the same situation. If people can work together and network, like we do on the ISC, we will make a difference in our own organizations, and in the broader electrical industry community. If you want to help develop the standards that form the foundation of our industry, please consider joining the ISC or a sub-committee!

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Schneider Electric eCommerce Survey Results

Schneider Electric NA recently conducted an eCommerce survey with their distributors regarding data content and the IDW. The survey was sent to Schneider's network of distributors and 120 responses were collected. Some key findings:

  • 79% of IDW users found that the data obtained from the IDW helped them manage their business more effectively.
  • 86% of the IDW users found it easy or very easy to download data from the IDW.
  • 86% of IDW users found the data to be more than moderately complete.
  • Catalog descriptions and pricing data ranked the highest when reviewing what types of information were most important to Schneider distributors.

Source: Schneider Electric December 2012 eCommerce Survey

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New Forum and Exhibitor Benefits with Mobile App

The 2013 IDEA E-Biz Forum will be held September 25-27th in Orlando, FL at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Our goal is to bring together eBusiness professionals and technology experts to share the latest eBusiness strategies and create enduring relationships. The early bird deadline for sponsoring the E-Biz Forum is April 26, 2013.

Sponsor Benefits at the E-Biz Forum:

With your support, the Forum can continue to grow as an event where everyone in the channel, from senior executives to product managers and front-line IT staff, can find more efficient ways of working together.  

  • *New for 2013* Company listing and promotional opportunities in new Forum event mobile app
  • Speaking opportunities – Gold level and above (limited space available)
  • Company visibility on Forum website, eNewsletter, event brochures and email campaigns
  • Recognition at sponsored event, registration, and welcome reception
  • And more!

Exhibitor Benefits at the Tech Center:

Exhibitors play an active role by educating and demonstrating how the latest B2B technology advancements can help attendees reach their business goals. Thanks to the passport program, exhibitors can be assured booth traffic. Registration, networking events, meals and breaks all revolve around the exhibit hall.

  • *New for 2013* Company listing and website link in new Forum event mobile app
  • Two complimentary Forum “All Access” registrations (a $1300 value!)
  • Table top display at Welcome Reception and Tech Center
  • Complimentary wireless Internet access
  • Complimentary electrical drop
  • Company description and link on Forum website
  • Company description in program guide (deadline: 8/9/13)
  • Forum attendee contact information (pre-show list sent 9/14/13; post-show list sent 10/4/2013) 

Want more engagement? Check out our new Forum event mobile app sponsorship opportunities in the Sponsor & Exhibitor brochure.

View more benefits in the Sponsor & Exhibitor Brochure>

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2013 E-Biz Forum Keynote Speakers Revealed

We’re excited to announce the General Session speakers of the 2013 IDEA E-Biz Forum who will bring the theme “Dream it. Do it. Let the Innovation Begin.” to life.

Josh Linkner, Founder and former CEO of ePrize, New York Times Best Selling Author

Josh is a creative force – an out-of-the-box thinker whose approach to business was forged in disruptive times. His first book, Disciplined Dreaming – A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, outlines Linkner’s prescription for business success. The book is a New York Times bestseller and was named one of the top ten business titles by in 2011. Prior to ePrize, he was founder/CEO of three other successful technology companies. His extraordinary business accomplishments led him to be honored as the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a President Barack Obama “Champion of Change” Award recipient. Josh provides resources like this quiz to find out how creative you are and a suggested reading list.

Visit Josh’s website to view his blog and access more creativity resources>

Jeb Blount, Best Selling Author of Six Books and a Leading Expert on Human Behavior in the Workplace

Jeb helps organizations and their leaders transform their organizations and accelerate growth and profit through intense focus on interpersonal relationships. An accomplished author, Jeb inspires business professionals to execute new strategies that lead to accelerated change and performance improvement in leadership, customer experience, account management and sales. Jeb will be hosting the general session “People Follow You” as well as breakout sessions on “People Buy You” and “People Love You” based on his works.

Visit Jeb’s website for more free resources>

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Job Opening: Data Quality Analyst

If you are passionate about actively contributing to the data quality in the industry, consider joining our expanding Data Quality Analyst team at IDEA.

Department: IDW Solutions

Reports to: Manager, IDW Solutions

Function: This position is responsible for monitoring and managing the quality of data in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). This person will work with assigned manufacturers and data suppliers to fully populate the IDW with complete transactional and marketing content, and drive continuous improvement of manufacturer data. The person must function with minimal supervision and regularly operate under deadlines.

Key Responsibilities: This data quality professional will:

  • Validate data updates, monitor report and query performance, troubleshoot data issues, and document processes and results.
  • Directly acquire and maintain digital data assets for the IDW
  • Load manufacturer data to the IDW, as required, and monitor results
  • Set up new customer accounts in the IDW, train customers in data loading/extracting techniques; write custom maps as required
  • Suggest, document, and implement tools to automate data analysis and data loading tasks
  • Other projects as assigned 

Education and Experience:

  • Technical proficiency with relational databases and large data structures.
  • Experience with validity checking and developing methods to identify data inconsistency and inaccuracy
  • Proficiency in MS Excel, Access, Word, and SQL.
  • Web harvesting experience
  • Strong analytical, research, and problem solving skills
  • Strong communication skills (both written and verbal)
  • BA in Computer Science or equivalent 3-5 year related work experience
  • Additional Requirements:

    • Ability to interact with individuals at different levels within and outside the company.
    • Team player that is self-driven with a strong work ethic.
    • Knowledge and familiarity with manufacturer data and data categorization schemas.

    If you are interested in and qualify for this position, please forward a cover letter and resume to Barbara Prince, Manager, IDW Solutions, at .

    Download the Data Quality Analyst job description as a PDF> 

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    Top Three Technology Trends in Electrical Distribution

    There are a lot of new and evolving technologies that are relevant to distributors today, but things are changing at such a rapid pace, it can be daunting to prioritize and stay current. What technologies and trends should you keep your eye on? tED magazine recently hosted a webcast on the top three technology trends in electrical distribution.

    Joe Bennett, the guest speaker and Senior Director of Wholesale Distribution Solutions at Infor, has spent over 21 years engineering software with a particular focus in a few key verticals including electrical distribution. He spoke about what's happening in the industry, how technology and innovation best intersect, and shared tips on how you can act upon these three trends:

    1. Enterprise Suite vs. ERP
    2. Mobility
    3. Systems of Engagement (Social) 

    Greg Chun, Vice President of Information Technology at McNaughton-McKay Electric Company, also joined as a guest speaker to provide an electrical distributor's point of view and share his best practices.

    The webcast is a great resource to learn new ways technology can improve your profitability.

    View the presentation and recorded webcast here> 

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