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This Week in IDEA | February 2, 2012

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NAED Tech Survey Results & Electrical Marketing Best Practices


In May 2011, NAED’s Board of Directors initiated the Strategic Tec­hnolo­gy Task Force with a mission to provide guidance, education and tools on technology innovations to benefit the electrical industry. As part of this effort, the Task Force has just released the results from their Strategic Technology Benchmarking Survey, in which 69 distributor companies answered questions about their technology priorities, challenges and opportunities. The study focused on the following topics:

  • Data & IT Roadmap
  • Website Functionality
  • E-Commerce Capabilities
  • Adoption of Mobile Devices/Technology
  • Back Office Technology Implementation

Some key findings:

  • 92.8% place a high priority on ensuring data in a distributors’ system is accurate and up to date
  • 66.7% rate eCommerce as a high priority

Download the Strategic Technology Benchmarking Survey>


In addition, NAED has commissioned a research project on electrical marketing. Key questions this project will help answer:

  • What do the best marketing distributors do better or differently from the rest?
  • How does interaction and collaboration with manufacturing partners impact marketing success?
  • How have the “new tools” of today supported, or detracted from, our traditional marketing practices?
  • How do we measure the effectiveness of our marketing investment?
  • How important is the electrical distributor’s brand, and how are those brands built?

Find out more about the Marketing Excellence in Electrical Distribution research project>­

NAED is seeking your input! Click here to participate in this project>

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The Rise of Tablet Selling

Content courtesy of Electrical Wholesaling

According to this blog post from, cloud activity is expected to dramatically expand in 2012. One reason for the increase is the rapid integration of mobile and tablet device use into businesses. As smartphones and tablets become progressively more powerful field sales tools, predictions claim that companies will turn to the convenience of cloud-based controls for mobile device management.

This trend was examined at the 2011 IDEA E-Biz Forum at the Tech Center and during the breakout session “Tablet Selling” presented by John Hoelz, president of RepFiles. Jim Lucy of Electrical Wholesaling recently caught up with Hoelz to discuss how RepFiles was conceptualized. RepFiles, a platform-independent cloud-based application, is an end-to-end file distribution system that enables a sales team to access the latest product information from manufacturers via tablets without having to rely on an Internet connection. RepFiles was created when Hoelz recognized the challenges of providing a­ccess to the latest product materials to his sales reps, especially when they were traveling in the field. With the advent of affordable cloud computing solutions, Hoelz was able to leverage a cloud-based Content Management System to launch RepFiles, which is now being leveraged and promoted by NEMRA rep members. In a recent Electrical Wholesaling article, Hoelz discusses the inner workings of the RepFiles application and shares tips on how to utilize tablets for business.

Read the Electrical Wholesaling article “Point of Contact”>

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Robert Hollands Joins the IDEA Team

Robert Hollands, formerly a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, has joined the IDEA team as a Data Quality Analyst. Robert will monitor and manage activities and processes that impact the quality of product data available to IDEA customers.

Hollands spent several years in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, teaching English to secondary school students. Before that, he worked at IDEA training manufacturers and distributors to use the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). He worked closely with IDEA’s customers by administering regular training sessions and providing technical support for the IDW. Upon his return to the US, Hollands will continue his career at IDEA as a Data Quality Analyst, working with manufacturers, distributors, and software providers to help define and execute strategies to improve data quality. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in English Literature and Spanish.

Robert can be reached at or at . Please join us in welcoming Robert to the IDEA team!

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New B2B eCommerce and Synchronization Customers

New IDX Customer

Howell Pipe and Supply, a distributor based in Georgetown, ON, became an IDEA customer on January 25, 2012. Canadian owned and operated, Howell Pipe & Supply is an industrial-focused distributor offering integrated supply solutions for pipes, valves, actuators and fittings. Howell Pipe and Supply is a proud member of Affiliated Distributors. They will take advantage of the cost savings and reliability of the Industry Data Exchange (IDX) to exchange B2B documents and transactions. Find out more at

New IDW Customer

Radcliff Electric Supply, a distributor from Radcliff, KY, became an IDW customer on January 23, 2012. Radcliff Electric Supply is a full-service electrical wholesaler providing materials for commercial, industrial, institutional and residential projects. They will utilize the IDW to obtain product and pricing information from their suppliers. 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 10 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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