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This Week in IDEA | December 1, 2010

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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Supporting the Demand for Detailed Product Information

By: Dirk Johnson, Data Quality Analyst, IDEA

In the 2009 case study, A Journey through Data Discovery, Ron Schlader, VP Operations and Quality, Crescent Electric Supply Co. and Phil Barrios, Senior Director eBusiness, Hubbell Inc., discussed their excursion for more detailed product information. Since then, IDEA initiated an ongoing effort to continuously enhance the IDW Data Synchronization Platform with expanded product information including two categories: catalog/enriched data and attributed data. The results of the effort are considered a key performance indicator (KPI) within the IDW team and are measured as existing blank fields in IDW are populated with accurate, manufacturer-supplied data.

The two main categories of detailed product information within IDW:

  • Catalog/Enriched Data – This category comprises detailed information often published in the form of web URLs that direct to product images, marketing brochures, technical specifications and drawings, MSDS sheets, catalog descriptions, and several others.
  • Attributed Data – This relatively new data set is specific to the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®) that is assigned to each product in IDW – up to 27 standardized attributes can be assigned to each code. For example, a relay switch code has attributes such as voltage, wattage, and amperage values and a wire code has attributes such as conductor count, size, and material.

The IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC), DATAgility and Unilog Content Solutions have been instrumental in the development of the electrical industry segments within the UNSPSC code global classification system and the UNSPSC-based Electrical Attribute Schema. You can read more about how IDEA customers are implementing the schema in the October issue of electroindustry.

In the end, both manufacturers and distributors will benefit from more standardized detailed product information because it will give distributors more selling power that they can use in-store, online and in print to increase the bottom line for the entire supply chain. Some other considerations and benefits:


Servicing the full range of product data requests that come from multiple distributors can be a logistics challenge, especially when the data is spread across multiple silos. Yet it must be done to nurture and maintain important trading partner relationships. When no process-based delivery mechanism exists, these data requests require more man-hours to fulfill, often at the management level. A failure to deliver can easily result in frustration for all, and lost sales.

Pro-actively populating IDW with detailed product information will go a long way toward creating a centralized, collective repository of your data, while the content remains under your full control as if it were in-house. Not only is your product information delivered to your authorized distributor channel, it can also be easily imported back to your product management team for quick re-formatting into any number of deliverable documents, for both internal and external re-distribution, including the web. Using IDW to its full capacity can circumvent the need for costly internal data collection process development. Product information from each separate data silo in your organization can be easily be mass-imported into IDW or entered independently, on an item-by-item basis – this helps you build a collective database in manageable stages.


As detailed product information in IDW expands, this will reduce the need to generate manual requests to individual manufacturers for images, spec sheets, drawings, and more. You can also proactively encourage your manufacturers to populate IDW with catalog and attributed data. The more distributors that make the request and help advocate the benefits, the higher a priority it will be on your manufacturers’ lists. Through years of synchronization experience, we know your requests to manufacturers have a direct impact upon their level of participation.

In addition, business systems will continue to evolve to incorporate this data into user applications seamlessly so that customers can research products and place orders within the same environment -- standards will play a large role in that effort. By using and demanding product information that complies with standards approved by the IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) specifications, every part of the supply chain can develop their solutions to be compatible, reducing cost and increasing utilization.

The Tools are in Place – Now it’s Time for the Next Steps

Over 80% of the products in IDW have been populated with UNSPSC codes and the IDW team is focused on acquiring catalog and attributed data from manufacturers. The catalog data, also known as enriched, will be a natural progression as the attributed data is populated since both types of detailed product information are typically stored in the same location – the marketing database silo. Over 50 manufacturers have begun to provide standardized attributed data to IDW and we encourage you to help us increase that number. Anyone involved in supply chain operations can make a difference, whether you are the CEO of a leading electrical manufacturer company or the Marketing Manager at a locally-owned and operated distributor company.

We encourage you to contact your IDEA account manager to find out how you can become involved in this effort. Manufacturers can also contact their IDW Data Quality Analyst to find out where they stand now with detailed product information in IDW, and how to prioritize and improve their efforts.

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Join IDEA at Ecobuild America 2010 for a Complimentary Educational Event

IDEA will co-present with NEMA and the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) at Ecobuild America for the educational session “Cutting out the Cut Sheet: SPie Streamlines the Product Specification and Selection Process.” This event will take place in Washington DC on December 6 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. You can attend this session and peruse through the Ecobuild exhibit hall for free and receive 10% off additional conference savings by using our priority codes.

Sponsored by the National Institute of Building Sciences, Ecobuild America shows you how to build more sustainably, collaboratively, and efficiently. Conference topics and exhibits cover:

  • BIM & Information Technology
  • Building Performance & Energy Efficiency    
  • Green Building, LEED & Sustainable Design
  • Practice & Business Management
  • Sustainable Sites & Infrastructure

About the Specifiers’ Properties information exchange (SPie) Session

It won’t be long until product specification sheets are a thing of the past. A new, easier way to select products, the Specifiers’ Properties information exchange (SPie), is helping manufacturers to deliver product information to specifiers and designers in an easy-to-compare, digital format. The demonstrations in this session will show how adopting the SPie standard can improve the specification/selection process as well as other downstream processes, such as:

  • Lighting fixture specification and selection using standard specification software, allowing for the option of electronic purchasing,
  • Electrical elements, including operation and maintenance (O&M) methods,
  • Wall products and the impact of standard naming on quantity take-off (QTO) and estimating, and
  • Cabinetry specification and the processing of submittals.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC), the Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP), and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) are spearheading the SPie project. Manufacturers and manufacturing associations, including the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI), the Woodwork Institute (WI), the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) and the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) are active participants. During the December 6 demonstration, several industry associations will show how they are implementing the SPie standards and illustrate how SPie can extend into electronic purchasing, O&M, QTO and submittals.

“The focus of NEMA and its partner IDEA is to facilitate matching specific needs of building owners and designers to specific products in the marketplace. First, for the electrical industry. But, given the flexibility of the NEMA/IDEA solution, to those in other industries as well,” said Jim Lewis, NEMA’s manager for high performance buildings. “Working in conjunction with the National Institute of Building Sciences and other organizations on the SPie initiative, we are looking forward to presenting our joint contribution to the next-generation of building information modeling (BIM) solutions on December 6th.”

SPie extends and cross references the OmniClass™ product and properties tables. It applies the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standard, which is already widely used for data sharing in building information modeling (BIM), to product specifications data.

To register for the free SPie demonstration, visit, select the “Exhibits and Keynotes Pass,” and enter promotion code IDEAX to waive the fee. Visit IDEA in the exhibit hall at booth #341 while you’re there!

You can receive 10% off additional conference savings by using the promotion code IDEAX10. View the entire Ecobuild event schedule.

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NAED Helps You Plan for 2011 – Deadlines Today

Don’t let the holiday fever put a damper on your plans for the New Year; take advantage of the new training resources and events available through the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED). The early bird deadline to register for NAED Western and to take the next Certified Electrical Professional Exam is today. NAED has also released a Strategic Planning Toolkit and is joining over 30 other distribution associations to sponsor the 2011 University of Industrial Distribution (UID) this March.

NAED Western

Today is the last day to receive the early bird registration price for the 2010 NAED Western Region Conference -- register now and save $200. The conference will take place January 10-12 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, Calif. Some educational topics include: social innovation and corporate citizenship, new opportunities in energy-efficiency, the scope of theft and fraud in the electrical distribution industry, and technology for distribution. View full schedule.

The Next Certified Electrical Professional Exam

Sign up now to take the Certified Electrical Professional (CEP) exam. The next set of test dates will be January 10-21, 2011. The early bird registration deadline is December 1, and the application deadline is December 15. CEP is a certification program for distributors, manufacturers and others in the electrical distribution channel. Certification identifies that the holder has demonstrated expertise in areas such as product knowledge, customer service, sales skills, and other business skills giving them added credibility in the electrical industry. For suggested courses, FAQs, candidate guides, sample exam questions, self-assessments, and other helpful materials, visit the CEP home page.

Strategic Planning 101 Toolkit

NAED member companies can now take advantage of the Strategic Planning 101 Toolkit, an introductory module series designed to help you formulate your business planning efforts. The toolkit offers best practices and includes modules that focus on: getting started, setting the framework, identifying strategies, and keeping the plan alive. If you are ready to get a plan in place, go to  

The University of Industrial Distribution

NAED is joining with over 30 other distribution trade associations to sponsor the 2011 University of Industrial Distribution (UID), March 7-10 in Indianapolis. UID will feature over 30 courses covering a full range of topics related to the distribution business in the areas of distribution marketing, business leadership, branch management, distribution profitability, sales and sales management, consumer psychographics, value-added selling, and channel alignment. UID is open to both distributor and manufacturer professionals in the distribution channel. View the courses available at the March 2011 UID and register online.

For more information about these training events, please contact the NAED Conference Department at .

Content courtesy of NAED Communications

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New B2B eCommerce and Synchronization Customers

IDEA welcomes three new IDX customers, one new IDW customer and 18 new IRD CERICOMX customers. Read more about these companies and how you can begin trading with them electronically to expand your business.

New IDX Customers

G&G Electric Company of New York, NY became an IDEA customer on December 1, 2010. Founded in 1914, G&G Electric is a distributor of electrical supplies, lighting, security and low voltage products. They will take advantage of the cost savings and reliability of Industry Data Exchange (IDX) to exchange B2B documents electronically. G&G Electric is a proud member of NAED. Find out more at  

Mid-Island Electrical Supply of Commack, NY became an IDEA customer on November 18, 2010. Mid-Island Electrical is a full-service distributor of electrical products serving the Automation, Construction, Industrial, OEM, Commercial, Institutional and Municipal markets in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley. They will take advantage of the cost savings and reliability of Industry Data Exchange (IDX) to exchange B2B documents electronically. Mid-Island Electric is a proud member of Affiliated Distributors. Find out more at  

E. Sam Jones Distributor of Atlanta, GA became an IDEA customer on November 18, 2010. Founded in 1948, E. Sam Jones is one of the Nation's largest specialty lighting distributors serving many regional and national accounts with multiple shipping locations. They will take advantage of the cost savings and reliability of Industry Data Exchange (IDX) to exchange B2B documents electronically. E. Sam Jones is a proud member of Affiliated Distributors. Find out more at  

New IDW Customer

Edwards Supply of Oak Ridge, TN became an IDEA customer on November 19, 2010. Established in 1993, Edwards Supply is a full-line electrical wholesale distributor that serves agencies and customers throughout the US such as the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Tennessee Valley Authority, Bechtel, Shaw, Fluor Daniel, and Michelin North America. They will utilize the IDW Data Synchronization Platform to synchronize product and pricing information with their supply partners. Edwards Supply is a proud member of NAED. Find out more at  

New IRD CERICOMX® Customers

As a 1SYNC Data Pool On-Board Solution (OBS) partner, IDEA implements suppliers that subscribe to the 1SYNC data pool using the IRD CERICOMX® Data Synchronization Platform. IDEA was recently assigned 18 suppliers:

These companies will be trained to use IRD CERICOMX®, an online catalog that suppliers use to register product data with the GS1 Registry® and GDSN via the 1SYNC Data Pool. Suppliers also use this solution to publish product data to demand partners including retailers such as Lowe’s and Walmart.

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