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This Week in IDEA | February 25, 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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IDEA Releases Version 3.0 of the Electrical Attribute Schema

More than 1000 new product categories added to fuel the eBusiness information needs of the electrical channel

IDEA recently released the Attribute Schema v3.0, an industry-approved guide for electrical manufacturers to communicate standardized product descriptors to their trading partners through the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). Manufacturers can use the Schema to populate descriptive information for nearly 3500 product categories, expanding product coverage by 40% from the previous version and enabling additional manufacturers involved with related verticals including HVAC, plumbing, and consumer electrical to participate.

“The Attribute Schema is a testament to the enormous collaborative power of the electrical channel and an inspiring industry effort to advance eBusiness,” said Robert Gaylord, President and CEO, IDEA. “Much has changed since the Schema's initial release in 2009. Today, the overwhelming majority of electrical manufacturers are using the Schema to provide standardized marketing content. Distributors are hungry for this information to develop their own eStorefronts to sell products. The latest Schema release, combined with our work with ETIM International, enables companies to conduct eBusiness everywhere more efficiently and cost-effectively.”

The third version of the Schema was developed in collaboration with DATAgility, and with the review and approval of the electrical manufacturers and distributors that comprise the IDEA Industry Standards Committee. The product descriptors are based on the product categories of the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®), a global standard for product categorization. The Attribute Schema v3.0 is also being utilized to develop a cross-reference tool with its European equivalent, the European Technical Information Model (ETIM), to align standards internationally and enable manufacturers to quickly send descriptive information to their US, Canadian and European-based distributors simultaneously.

“Similar to how young professionals now utilize Google Maps instead of road maps, young electrical industry professionals search the Internet instead of thumbing through paper catalogs," said Ann Jaehn, Chairman, IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) and Director of Pricing, Thomas & Betts Corporation. "As a leader of the electrical industry, IDEA owes it to our partners to continue to improve the exchange of data content through initiatives such as the Attribute Schema to help prepare for the advancement of eBusiness. As a direct result of the support manufacturers have dedicated to providing attributed data, manufacturers enjoy cleaner data in their own systems and the entire channel benefits from accurate, robust data."

The Schema is a living document and will continue to expand and improve as other product areas are identified by manufacturers and distributors.

The Attribute Schema can only be accessed and used by IDW customers. IDW customers can access this new version by signing into the IDEA Portal or by contacting an IDEA representative at . You can find out more about the Schema by visiting IDEA’s website

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Speaking Opportunities at the 2013 E-Biz Forum

Do you have a new approach to a common challenge that others in the channel could benefit from or have you been working on an exciting new project? The 2013 theme is “Dream it. Do it. Let the innovation begin.” We’re looking for speakers who can share stories and educate industry peers on ways they can take an innovative idea and apply it to make an impact on their business. Some benefits of speaking at the next E-Biz Forum:

  • Promote your company as an expert on educational topics
  • Professional career development
  • Network with eBusiness, IT, marketing, operations and senior leadership contacts in the electrical industry
  • Complimentary registration (a $695 value) which includes access to all conference activities, scheduled meals, social functions and conference program materials

Every year, the IDEA E-Biz Forum committee surveys attendees to learn what topics they are interested in and deem high value.

Some topics to consider for your session content include:

  • eBusiness strategies, organizational anecdotes and success stories on how your company (manufacturer, distributor or end-user) is utilizing and communicating product data throughout the supply chain
  • Best practices for industry trends including eBusiness, electronic data interchange (EDI) and data sync
  • Courses on leadership and creativity to rejuvenate your career 

The deadline to apply for this speaking opportunity is March 29, 2013. If you or someone at your company is interested in speaking, please submit the IDEA E-Biz Forum Speaker Prospect Form or direct your questions to .

We'd appreciate your feedback for our next event in 2014. Where do YOU want the next E-Biz Forum to be held? Washington D.C., Nashville, or maybe Seattle? Vote for your favorite cities>

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Join the IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC)

The IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) is the official eBusiness standards creating and setting body for the electrical industry. They develop and maintain industry-specific eBusiness standards and guidelines, and meet quarterly to plan for future projects including an open session at the annual IDEA E-Biz Forum. Standards and guidelines approved by ISC are made available to the industry on IDEA’s website and through the IDEA Portal.

All professionals involved in the electrical industry are welcome to join the join the IDEA Standards Committee (ISC) and sub-committees.

Some key resources and initiatives the ISC has spearheaded include the Attribute Schema, EDIPro guidelines, and Net Price exchange methods.

You can choose to serve on the ISC governing body and any of the sub-committees in one of the following member levels:

  • ISC Voting: a volunteer that commits to serve and participate in at least 75% of the IDEA Standards Committee main activities.
  • Active: a volunteer that commits to serve and participate in at least 75% of the IDEA Standards sub-committee activities.
  • Participating: a volunteer who wishes to participate in any committee’s activities but is unable to make the commitment to serve in at least 75% of the activities. In order to have voting right within a sub-committee voting rights, the participant must commit to 50% participation.  

Sub-committees and their specific focuses include:

  • B2B Communications Sub-Committee - EDI, EDIFACT, XML, Flat Files
  • Data Content & Quality Sub-Committee - IDW/PDD, White Papers & Best Practices
  • Product Information Sub-Committee - Product Codes (UNSPSC), Product Identification 

Join a Committee>
See current ISC leaders>
View the new Standards Adoption web pages>

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Save the Date: New Webinar on IDW for Manufacturers

IDEA’s next live webinar “Better Data. Better Business: the Industry Data Warehouse” will be held on Thursday, March 14th. During this webinar, we’ll take a closer look at IDEA’s Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) and how manufacturers can use this application to easily communicate accurate product and pricing content to their trading partners in near real-time.

Join us to clarify any questions you may have about the IDW and find out what’s being done in the channel, and globally, to help manufacturers increase sales with high-quality marketing data in the IDW. We’ll take you through an exclusive demo of the IDW including the new Supply Chain Analytics tool that manufacturers can use to pinpoint data quality issues in real-time and fix them at the source:

Webinar: Better Data. Better Business: the Industry Data Warehouse
Date: March 14, 2013
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET
Speakers: Robert Hollands, Lead Data Quality Analyst, IDEA; Justin Smith, Development & eCommerce Solutions Manager, IDEA; Dennis Linden, National Sales Manager, Electri-Flex Company; Dan Poss, Purchasing Manager, Frisbee’s Inc.
Who should attend?: Marketing managers, IT/eBusiness managers/coordinators, product managers, or data sync coordinators at electrical manufacturing companies that use or are considering using the IDW to send product and pricing data to their trading partners

Registration will be available soon. Please email if you’d like to secure a spot in advance.

Visit the Webinars webpage to see additional webinars>

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Distributor Value to the Supply Chain

In recognition of the invaluable efforts of electrical distributors, we’ve gathered articles featuring distributor, contractor and manufacturer perspectives on the role of distribution in the electrical channel.

The Secret Value of Distributors: Electrical Wholesaling recently featured an article by Jim Hays, V.P. of JMC Steel Group’s Electrical Division. Hays dispels any doubts about the importance of distributors by revealing three hidden values that electrical distributors provide to contractors through personalized services and solutions that help streamline projects. Hays discusses in detail how kitting, local logistics and education all contribute to benefits that contractors are able to leverage throughout a project.

Read the article on>

What Keeps them Coming Back: According to this article in tED magazine, valued advice and outstanding service top the list of most-appreciated services distributors provide to contractor customers. Contractors such as Ryan Walsh, VP of Walsh Electrical Contracting and Matthew Devlin, President of Devlin Electrical Services, don’t hold back when it comes to discussing their relationships with distributors. Here’s just a glimpse of what they had to say. 

“They have better prices and stock, offer alternative products if a product is not in stock, are more conveniently located, and provide a better quality of products compared to big box stores,” said Walsh. “And because we buy in such volume, we generally garner good prices on everything.”

“We know that if we have a problem, they’ll be right there for us to make sure it is corrected, whether it’s switchgear or lighting,” said Devlin. “Sometimes we might forget a piece and someone will say, ‘Don’t you need this?’ You don’t get that from many places.”

Read the article on (pp. 31-33)>

Helping Distributors Finish First: In the midst of a recent rebranding, Osborn, a global manufacturer of solutions including welding, metal fabrication, automotive and maintenance, has extended its goals of exceptional performance into distributor programs and support. In this Industrial Supply advertorial, Osborn discusses the value they see in distributors and their sincere efforts to provide their partners with the information and materials they need to be successful.

According to Mark Johnson, vice president of sales and marketing at Osborn, “We’re striving to help the end user have the right product for their applications and working closely with our distributors in one of the best ways to accomplish that. We recognize the ‘four Ps’ that distributors need for the best value are performance, programs, people and price.”

Read the article on>

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