News & Events

This Week in IDEA | December 1, 2011

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.


Subscribe to This Week in IDEA

Part Two of the “Catapulting the Curve” Podcast Series

This week, Larry Stern, president of Standard Electric Supply, and Del Nickel, past president of Pentair Technical Products, share some of the factors they believe hinder eCommerce in the electrical industry. They discuss leadership fears and technical hurdles, including an update on the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), which responds to the concerns of skeptics.

“Anytime you implement changes, no matter how small you may think they are in your organization, it’s painful. People don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘Today I’m going to embrace change just because I feel like doing something new and different.’”

– Larry Stern, president, Standard Electric Supply

“Everyone has a concern of becoming a ‘me-too’ brand and both manufacturers and distributors want some way to differentiate their product. I think that’s an area where more training and education is required because the industry’s Electrical Attribute Schema does enable manufacturers and distributors to differentiate their offerings.”

– Del Nickel, past president, Pentair Technical Products

Listen to part two of "Catapulting the Curve">

Be the first to comment on this article.

Tags for this post: del nickel larry stern podcast multimedia

Back To Top

3 Ways to Reach Your Data Attribution Goals

As a manufacturer, your trading partners require attributed data to successfully market your products. However, what is the best way to handle the data attribution process? Before you jump in, you must know your goals, and make sure they’re SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-specific. For example, many manufacturers have set a goal to populate the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) with the most-requested marketing content (listed below) for all their high–priority ("A") SKUs by the end of this year, with the remaining stocking SKUs to be completed by mid-2012. ­

  1. Spec sheets (or catalog page) – customers want to know the product specifications
  2. Attributes (as defined in the UNSPSC-based Electrical Attribute Sc­hema) – customers want to search products
  3. Images – customers want to see it
  4. Description (catalog/long description) – customers want to know what it is

Once you’ve defined your SMART goal, it’s time to decide how to execute. IDEA offers various service options through the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS), including full–service and continuous service models for those who need it. The AFS is an outsourced solution that helps manufacturers populate standardized product marketing content into the IDW faster and more cost-efficiently. Here are three common scenarios to help you decide the best way to complete your data attribution efforts:


This is a one-time project in which IDEA works with the manufacturer to determine the project scope, and then populates attributes for the product SKUs defined in that scope. Once the attributes are populated and approved by the manufacturer, IDEA provides the tools and education necessary for the manufacturer to maintain the data attribution process. The manufacturer has approximately 30% involvement in the full-service model – they select, provide and approve the product data to ensure accuracy, while IDEA translates it into a consistent format that is compatible with global and industry standards. This is the option most manufacturers prefer.

Who Could Use It?

  • Manufacturers with multiple disparate systems of product data, perhaps because of branches, acquisitions and divisions.
  • Manufacturers that are under pressure to meet trading partner mandates or that are looking to jumpstart their data attribution efforts.
  • Manufacturers that have resource constraints.­­
  • Get a head start in meeting down-stream demand and mandates set by trading partners and the industry (NEMA/NAED members).
  • Leverage the expertise of data synchronization consultants to reduce the learning curve and obtain help with prioritization (data synchronization consultants will break-down and simplify what could be perceived as a daunting task).
  • Be confident that your product attributes are following industry and global standards.
  • Potentially populate marketing content in the IDW in less than half the time and at one-third the price compared to using internal resources.
  • Be involved in the decision-making process and approve all of the product information used.
  • Once the project is complete, you have a sustainable process in place to maintain it.
  • Once the designated product SKUs are fully attributed and the service is complete, the project could lose momentum or be reprioritized, resulting in poorly-maintained data.
  • Some dependence on an outside consultant and less understanding of the attribution process internally.
  • There are up-front costs for the full–service model, and the revenue gain is more long-term. ­
­ ­

Continuing Service

Once a full–service project is completed, a manufacturer may choose to have IDEA continue to populate attributed data for any new product SKUs, in other words, continuously maintain and update their marketing content. Choosing this service level allows manufacturers to keep necessary involvement to 5-10%.

Who Could Use It?

  • Manufacturers that want to concentrate on other priorities.
  • Manufacturers that have little to no knowledge of the data attribution process.
  • Very few internal resources need to be allocated to this on-going project. Once you work with IDEA to set-up the process, your involvement can be minimal.
  • Leverage the expertise of data synchronization consultants to ensure that data attribution efforts are successful and meet global/industry standards.
  • No need to dedicate staff to maintain the data attribution process – allowing your team to focus on other projects.
  • Dependence on an outside consultant and minimal understanding of the attribution process internally.
  • Less control and flexibility with making changes to your product information.


A manufacturer dedicates internal staff and resources to creating, implementing, and maintaining their data attribution efforts. The manufacturer is 100% involved in all aspects of the project, including gathering, formatting, and populating their product marketing content in the IDW.

Who Could Use It?

  • Manufacturers that have fully–integrated ERP systems with all their product information in one location.
  • Manufacturers that have the internal resources and a full-time staff to devote to their data attribution efforts.
  • You know your business better than anyone, and can determine the best ways to differentiate your products.
  • Flexibility to manage the project according to a timeline that can accommodate the needs and resources of your company.
  • Develop a stronger proficiency and understanding of the Electrical Attribute Schema and the data synchronization process through first-hand experience.
  • Intensive expenditures on the resources and time demanded by the project in addition to potential hidden costs.
  • Staff may need to be redeployed to manage the project at the expense of other responsibilities.
  • Competing internal priorities could delay completion of the project.
  • No outside-in perspective on your data attribution efforts. (Your company may make mistakes or miss opportunities to differentiate because you’re too close to the project).
  • In-house processes could lead to isolation and a departure from industry standards. (Trading partners may be forced to reformat the data if produced in non-standard formats).

­IDEA partners with DATAgility to provide the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS). Find out more on the AFS product webpage. ­

Be the first to comment on this article.

Tags for this post: idw attribute schema datagility afs

Back To Top

4 Advanced Twitter Tips


You have a brand new Twitter account, but are you stumped about what to say and who to follow? Or maybe you’re looking for new ways to add value to your Twitter efforts? If you’ve read our previous newsletter article on how to launch a new Twitter, you have ­a great foundation in place to utilize the following 4 advanced tips to do just that.

1.    What should I talk about?

First, consider your communication goals and priorities. Balance the needs of your company with the needs of your audience to ensure that followers find your tweets useful and relevant, which in turn grows your audience as followers share your content. And, remember that Twitter is two-way communication. Start or join a conversation about topics that are relevant to your followers and remember your “netiquette” – credit sources and thank those whom share your content.

26 Twitter Tips for Enhancing Your Tweets from Social Media Examiner>

2.    How can I use Twitter to network?

The great thing is that you’re already halfway there! By creating robust content, you’ve essentially made an identity for yourself by showing what subjects you’re interested in and will naturally attract others who are interested in the same (in reverse, tweet content that will attract your target audience). Retweets and mentions are other ways to casually establish connections.

8 Easy Ways to Network on Twitter from Social Media Examiner>

3.    How do I incorporate Twitter and other social media into my event?

Twitter is a great tool for creating buzz before, during, and after your event to ensure a lasting impression on your attendees. Promote a contest that rewards those who tweet about the event or conduct a poll on Twitter to get feedback from attendees. Twitter is also a great way to promote your speakers by sharing their Twitter handles and encouraging your followers to connect. Also, create a hashtag for your event and add it to your tweets to help yourself and your audience follow the conversation.

15 Ways to Bring Social Media to Events from Social Media Examiner>­

4.    How do I measure the value of Twitter to my business?

Twitt­er developers recently ­. Although it is currently open only to pilot participants, according to Mashable, the new analytics has the potential to track mentions/follows/unfollows and the impressions of each tweet. In the meanwhile, a plethora of apps and solutions by other developers have stepped up to the plate. We recommended TweepsMap to our Twitter followers. Not one of them?

10 Twitter Analytics and Visualization Tools from Twitter Tools>

Have some great tips of your own? Please share in the c­omments and let us know about your Twitter experience.

Be the first to comment on this article.

Tags for this post: social media twitter

Back To Top

Epicor’s “Distribution 2.0” Forum Explores Future of Wholesale Distribution

Content courtesy of Epicor.­


At the annual Distribution Executive Forum hosted by Epicor Software Corporation, an audience representing 60+ wholesale distribution companies gathered to hear industry thought leaders as they discussed enterprise resource planning (ERP) and the technology-enabled distributor of the future. Panel members included: Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager, ERP Americas for Epicor; Guy Blissett, researcher at IBM and fellow of the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence; Tom Gale, president, Gale Media/Industrial Market Information, and publisher of Modern Distribution Management; Dr. Barry Lawrence, director of Texas A&M’s Industrial Distribution Program; Mike Marks, managing partner of Indian River Consulting Group; and Jon Schreibfeder, president of Effective Inventory Management Inc.

“Technology is the linchpin of Distribution 2.0,” said Kevin Roach. “Distributors need to have a defined strategy around this key aspect of their business. Technology can and will make a real difference in how you compete in the market.”

During the panel discussion, the panelists observed that most distributors are currently using only 20-30 percent of the technical functionality in the ERP systems they have bought and paid for; and today’s consultative-selling model requires not only just product knowledge, but also a more technically- competent and adept sales force. In looking at the future of wholesale distribution, the panelists also suggested that instead of serving merely as an inventory storage house, companies should focus on becoming the “intellectual controller” of the supply chain, introducing reliability into the processes between supplier and customer as a true value-add. The panelists encouraged distributors to “analyze the value dynamic among you, your vendors and your customers, to create meaningful differentiation.” Other topics covered by the group included strategies for directing field sales, the use of customer stratification, predictive analytics and central warehousing, and the role of buying groups and master distributors.

Be the first to comment on this article.

Tags for this post: distributors epicor

Back To Top

New Synchronization 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 four 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.

Be the first to comment on this article.

Tags for this post: customers

Back To Top

Need more info?

Customer Service:

View Latest eBusiness education and news for the electrical supply chain. Become an eBiz expert today! subscribe >