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This Week in IDEA | December 14, 2012

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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2012 Holiday Wrap-Up

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Happy Holidays from IDEA!

Here’s a breakdown of the topics and articles that caught your attention in 2012:

News about our Customers, Partners and Industry Initiatives

eBusiness Best Practices

New Product and Service Releases

IDEA Announcements and Partnerships

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End-of-Year Forum Promotion and New 2013 Sponsors

The 2013 IDEA E-Biz Forum will be held September 25-27th in Orlando, FL at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. If you sign up as a sponsor or exhibitor by the end of the year, you’ll receive half-off an additional registration for your company (no payments until 2013 upon request) and be entered in a drawing for a new iPad mini. Download the Early Bird Sponsor/Exhibitor Form>

More reasons to sign up early:

  • Speaking opportunities – Gold level and above (limited space available)
  • Extended visibility on Forum website
  • First choice of sponsored event

Thanks to the companies that have already committed their support to the 2013 event. IDEA is proud to announce Unilog as the exclusive Executive Partner sponsor and Border States Electric as a Bronze sponsor.

Unilog Content Solutions is a global technology and services­ company that specializes in Big Data Analytics and Product Data Management for eCommerce. Founded in 1998, Unilog is an ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 8000 certified company and employs over 300 people in its dedicated Bangalore, Mysore and Philadelphia facilities. Unilog is at the forefront of Big Data Analytics and helps companies cut down their time to a mature eCommerce business model with its product CIMM2. Unilog has built an ecosystem of Customers and Partners that stand testimony to the high quality of solution delivery. Visit to know more.

BSE provides products and services to the construction, industrial and utility markets. Active employees own 100 percent of the company under the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The employee-owned company has approximately 1,300 employees and 58 branch operations in 13 states. BSE is the ninth largest electrical distributor and one of the 100 largest private ESOP companies in the U.S. Corporate headquarters are located in Fargo, N.D. Learn more at

The Premiere sponsorship is available on a first-come, first-serve basis (3 total). More about sponsorship benefits>

For questions, comments and personal service regarding sponsoring or exhibiting, contact Kari Thomas at or .

Browse the 2012 Forum Resources Page for presentations, photos and videos from the last event.

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eBusiness Elements for Success

By Karen Kopala, Schneider Electric North America

eBusiness is changing the way manufacturers and distributors do business at every step in the supply chain (from procuring raw materials, manufacturing product and distributing it).

Market trends in the electrical industry indicate more concise data, product images and mobile and tablet access to this information is critical for doing business. Furthermore, as EDI (electronic data interchange) transaction set usage grows, it is important for a manufacturer to provide options and help with a planning strategy.

Transacting documents such as purchase orders, invoices and more via EDI is not a new process. In fact, Schneider Electric has been utilizing this eBusiness solution for more than 20 years.

“We allow for individualization by giving purchasers options to transmit their data electronically via EDI, Flat File or text-to-EDI.  It is important to understand the needs of the industry as well as help in defining future standards,” says Brenda Williams, Electronic Linkage Coordinator in the Quality Customer Care Center at Schneider Electric.

By consistently being engaged in the process to define standards, manufacturers and distributors can work towards improving efficiency on both sides of the transaction. Here are some key strategies Schneider Electric has found to make the transition from manual to EDI an easy and cost-efficient process.

Key Implementation Factors in EDI

First and foremost, each company involved in transmitting data electronically needs to prioritize the adoption and implementation of industry standards.  Key decision makers from both companies need to be involved from the beginning so that all the resources are in place for a smooth process to take place.  Setting clear expectations around EDI activities (e.g. offerings, requirements, prioritization and timelines) is a critical step in a successful implementation.  In addition, leveraging the sales team to encourage EDI usage and explain the benefits will streamline the project by enabling everyone to work smarter and more efficiently.  Lastly, quick responses to issues that arise throughout the process are important so that the process continues with minimal interruption from start to finish.

More Success Factors for EDI Implementation:


  • With  EDI/IT support teams to successfully implement projects
  • With leadership to get support and understand eBusiness strategy
  • With trading partners to set clear expectations
  • Dedication of time and resources 
  • Establish an understanding of business partners’ needs
  • Value the voice of your business partners
  • Be the voice of your company
Jeff Drees, US Country President of Schneider Electric, shares more eBusiness best practices in of the Executive Panel Session "Drawing a Line of Sight from E-Biz to the Corner Office" at the 2012 E-Biz Forum.

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How to be an Innovative Leader

­­What marked the downfall of companies like Blockbuster and Kodak? T­hey failed to innovate and stay ahead of their competition. These case study examples are now popular cautionary tales. As consumer behavior is evolving, companies should as well. Review below the resources on best practices f­or nurturing an innovative workplace and leveraging it for your company’s success.

Frank Wander, founder of the IT Excellence Institute and a former Fortune 250 CIO, shares 3 best practices for fostering innovation among your IT ranks in this CIO Magazine article. Read the article on>

In a collaborated effort, Forbes has published a list of the world’s most innovative companies. Examining the leaders of these companies, the article discusses how innovative leaders grow and maintain their thriving cultures. Read the article on>

Scott Klososky of Future Point of View presented a session "Trends, Technology and the Technology Infused Leader" at the 2012 NAED AdVenture.

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Independent Electrical Distributors (IED) Merges with Affiliated Distributors

­­­­­­­Content courtesy of Affliated Distributors (AD)

­­­­Affiliated Distributors (AD), a Nor­th American wholesale mark­eting/buying group announced that it has entered into a letter of intent to merge with Canadian electrical buying group, Independent Electrical Distributors (IED).  ­­­­­­The merger intends to significantly strength­en the market position of electrical independents in Canada and commands 23% of the total market.

­­­“AD’s model has always attracted market leaders and quality distributors,” shared Bill Weisberg, AD’s Chairman and CEO. “The merger with IED will strengthen the entire AD group and we are excited to welcome these great companies and people to the AD family.”

According to AD’s President of the Electrical Divisions, David Oldfather, “The synergy between the two groups is a natural fit as former IED members will have the opportunity to take advantage of increased earnings, cost reductions, access to AD’s financial tools, new marketing programs, best in class networking, and North American relationships.”

Jim Milne, current President of IED, will manage the newly combined Canadian group as AD’s President of the Canadian Division, reporting to David Oldfather.  Milne states, “We’ve always had a great deal of respect for the AD Canada distributors and now that we have the opportunity to join into a single entity, the collective strength of this group will allow even further market penetration and growth beyond what would be possible by the two separate groups.  As IED, we also bring to the group a long-standing, successful Customer Rewards Program, a well-known differentiator in the contractor community, and a proven way to gain and retain mindshare.”

AD’s Canadian Electrical Division was formed in 1992 by a merger with Copel, a Canadian Electrical group, and currently includes 16 distributors, representing 143 branch locations with a sales volume of approximately $750M.  The roots of IED go back to 1965.  IED [less EECOL, whose volumes will remain part of IED through 2013] is currently comprised of 36 companies with 90 branch locations and a reported volume of approximately $800M, for a combined volume total for AD/IED of over $1.5B in Canada.   AD’s total electrical sales in North America are over $13 Billion.   

About Affiliated Distributors: Affiliated Distributors provides independent distributors and manufacturers of construction and industrial products with support and resources that accelerate growth. Our 450 plus independently owned members span seven industries (electrical, industrial, plumbing, pipe valve and fittings, HVAC, Clean Energy and Drywall) with annual sales in excess of $20 Billion.  For more information visit:

­About I.E.D.: I.E.D. Limited Partnership is comprised of a group of Canadian owned and managed Independent Electrical Distributors having more than 90 branch locations from coast to coast in Canada, servicing customers in 9 provinces, Yukon and the North West Territories.  For more information visit: ­

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New IDW Platinum Band of Excellence Manufacturers

Congratulations to the following manufacturers that have rec­ently achieved the Platinum Band of Excellence, the most elite status in the industry’s new banding program which measures the amount o­f marketing content manufacturers provide to the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) for their distributors. There are now 50 Platinum Bands of Excellence manufacturers. These companies are now providing marketing content ­for 75% - 100% of their stock items to the IDW! ­­

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View all manufacturers with Bands of Excellence ratings>


Contact your Data Quality Analyst at IDEA or email to find out where your company stands and how to achieve IDEA’s Platinum banding level. ­

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