News & Events

This Week in IDEA | January 19, 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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2011 Year in Review

­­In 2011, IDEA aggressively launched a multitude of new initiatives that are increasing the pr­oductivity and impact of eBusiness throughout the electrical channel. As we begin the New Year, we’d like to thank you for helping us innovate in 2011 to position the industry for more growth in 2012.

Moving the Needle with Electrical Product Data

  • In 2011, there was an enormous surge in effort by most manufacturers to provide attributed marketing content to their wholesale distributor customers via the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). The goal to have manufacturers populate all stock SKUs and “A” SKUs – the top priority items that account for the majority of business – with rich marketing content by early summer 2012 is well underway. Manufacturers are approaching this initiative in various ways but all with a singular sense of purpose – to satisfy their customers’ needs.
  • Don’t let your CEO and sales team get caught off guard by customers asking about the status of your product marketing content. If you aren’t sure if your company is populating at least the top four essential marketing elements of Spec sheets, Attributes (as defined in the industry’s Electrical Attribute Schema), Images and Descriptions, please contact your account manager directly or email .

Collaboration results in new solutions and industry efforts

  • Released the Electrical Attribute Schema 2.0, expanding coverage to nearly 2,500 product categories, a 64% increase from the inaugural release in October 2009. More expansion to come in this growing field of standardized marketing content.
  • Introduced the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS) as a cost-efficient outsourcing option for manufacturers to populate some or all of their standardized product marketing content into the IDW. IDEA partners with DATAgility to help manufacturers populate marketing content including the attributes defined in the industry’s Electrical Attribute Schema, and we can also help populate other product content such as images if needed. Find out more about the various outsourcing options>
  • Completed the Data Management Platform (DMP) pilot program with Border States Electric, Cooper Industries, Crescent Electric Supply, Leviton, Lutron, and OSRAM SYLVANIA. The DMP enables manufacturers to aggregate, synchronize and communicate product information with all their trading partners through one application. Distributors can use the solution to receive, parse, validate and package the product information they receive from various sources (e.g. IDW, direct from manufacturer) in one location before importing it into their ERP systems and web storefronts. Find out more>
  • Entered into a partnership with ElectricSmarts to help fully synchronize the electrical channel including manufacturers, distributors and end-users. ElectricSmarts will be the exclusive value-added supplier of IDEA data to the contractor/end-user market. Find out more>
  • Added many new enhancements to the IDW including a brand new interface that helps manufacturers prioritize and track data synchronization progress, while adding visibility to their efforts – recognizing those that provide product data updates frequently and populate rich marketing content on those products. For distributors, the new interface provides convenient manufacturer-load summaries and helps track the data synchronization process. Now the product information appears as if it would on a web storefront so you can see the breadth and quality of information available and determine what needs to be added. Explore Version 3.0 using your current IDW username and password>  ­­­Find out more>

Enhancing the electrical eBusiness community­

  • ­Industry trade publications turned to IDEA’s thought-leadership community for insights on the latest trends in B2B eCommerce – over 50 mentions and feature stories in 2011.
  • Over 175 professionals from IDEA’s community convened in St. Louis, MO for the 13th annual IDEA E-Biz Forum. Save the date for the 2012 E-Biz Forum, September 25-27 in Dallas, TX at the Omni Mandalay.
  • We expanded communication channels through social media including the launch of our and pages. Other ways to stay in touch: add our , connect via , watch videos on , and browse photos from events on .
  • Representatives of Affiliated Distributors (A-D) and their affiliates: Becker Electric, Franklin Empire, and Fromm Electric shared their story of how and why they decided to switch Value-Added Network (VAN) providers. Each company is now using IDEA’s Industry Data Exchange (IDX) for their EDI needs, and the “Switching on the Savings” A-D case study examines their transition to IDX as well as the results from their efforts.

These accomplishments would not be possible without our partners and customers – thank you for another year of significant progress! We also moved to a new office at the end of 2011, so please update your records: IDEA’s New Headquarters | | Suite 500 | Arlington, VA 22202.

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Tags for this post: idw news training attribute schema marketing electricsmarts afs dmp

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New Sync Platform for the Electrical Industry: DMP


(click image to enlarge)

In 2011, IDEA and leading electrical companies have been developing a new data sync platform that we expect to increase eBusiness productivity for many more companies and years to come – the Data Management Platform (DMP). Born from the industry, ­the DMP has undergone several iterations and testing processes. As a newsletter subscriber, you’re getting a first look into this powerful new industry solution.

Who helped develop the DMP?

IDEA’s efforts in 2011 focused on the DMP Pilot Program, which included participants from: Border States Electric, Cooper Industries, Crescent Electric Supply, Leviton, Lutron, and OSRAM SYLVANIA. These companies volunteered their time and expertise to test the new software and provide suggestions for improvement on behalf of the industry. Read the electroindustry magazine article about the DMP Pilot Program>

What is the DMP?

The DMP is a data sync platform that enables manufacturers to aggregate, synchronize and communicate product information with all their trading partners through one application. The application helps manufacturers comply with electrical wholesale standards defined within the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), global standards defined by the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), and any other mandates that may be required by a trading partner.

How can manufacturers benefit from the DMP?

We’ll let the users do the talking on this one:

"The DMP will help alleviate the burden of looking through several databases, catalogs, and spec sheets—tying up multiple resources searching for data that’s been requested by our trading partners. We see the DMP as having a tremendous impact on response time. The quicker we can get complete data to our customers, the quicker they can accomplish their goals," said Mark Richards, eCommerce Director, Leviton.

"With the DMP, I can load the data just once, and the tool is flexible and more user friendly. It is a huge time saver. For example, using the DMP, I was able to load about 130 items with standardized marketing content, and I did it in about 10 minutes!" said Dawn Wright-Perry, Master Data Manager, Milbank.

"The DMP adds value by consolidating the process and enabling us to publish the data one time, certify that it is accurate, and allocate it where needed to our trading partners," said Samer Shehadeh, EDI Manager, Cooper Industries.

What about distributors?

The DMP has a “demand-side” in which distributors can receive, parse, validate and package the product information they receive from various sources (e.g. IDW, direct from manufacturer) in one location before importing it into their ERP systems and web storefronts.

How will the DMP affect current IDW and/or IRD CERICOMX® customers?

The DMP integrates seamlessly with the IDW for supply and demand partners. For manufacturers, their distributors that use the IDW will have access to the data the manufacturer populates in the DMP, and their distributor customers that use the DMP will have access to their IDW product information.

IRD CERICOMX® customers can continue to use that application to synchronize product information with the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) without interruptions, or can decide to migrate to the DMP. The DMP utilizes the 1SYNC data pool for the GDSN synchronization.

What makes the DMP different from other sync solutions?

The DMP offers flexible and customizable features that enable you to synchronize non-standardized content such as internal or trading-partner specific requirements that are not available in the IDW or IRD CERICOMX®.

"We need one version of the truth for our product data that every department can use. The DMP enables us to store our product information in one place, and it validates the data against industry and global standards based on the channel we send it to. This gives us more time to aggregate detailed, enriched product marketing content and provide it electronically," said Milbank's Wright-Perry.

Browse the Data Management Platform (DMP) web pages and contact your Account Manager at for this new solution.

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Tags for this post: leviton border states milbank cooper industries dmp

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Paper-Based Catalogs vs. eCatalogs

Content courtesy of tED magazine

tED magazine contributes to the debate on whether printed product catalogs are still a relevant and justifiable expense in an environment of increasing digital resources by publishing the opinions of several industry insiders. Tanya Hansel of HGM Catalog Consulting states that print catalogs can still be effective for B2B organizations, and she outlines several strategies companies can use to optimize their efforts. Neil O’Keefe of Direct Marketing Association (DMA) also predicts direct mailing trends that will affect catalogs. Springfield Electric Supply, a distributor which hasn’t published a print catalog since 1990, also explains their reasoning behind the decision, new initiatives in their marketing mix, and the advantages of using of eCatalog vendors such as ElectricSmarts.

Download the article>

Read the January issue of tED magazine online (free registration)>

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Suppliers Benefit from RFID Technology

Content courtesy of Digital Journal

According to new research from the University of Arkansas sponsored by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and GS1 US, the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) can benefit suppliers by identifying opportunities for improvement in supply chain management and integration with ERP systems. In addition to case studies and key findings, the research also emphasizes the integral role of relationships between suppliers and retailers.

Read the article on>

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New Synchronization and Professional Services Customers

New IDW Customers

Ronk Electrical Industries, Inc., a manufacturer headquartered in Nokomis, IL, became an Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) customer on January 13, 2012. Ronk has been providing phase converters, manual transfer switches, power factor correction capacitors and stray voltage isolators to the electrical industry since 1950. Still “Made in America,” Ronk will be utilizing the IDW data sync platform to provide their distributors with the most up-to-date product information on their switch line of products.

“Ronk is dedicated to making business easier for our customers. By leveraging the IDW, we’ll be able to provide our product information to distributors in near real-time. Distributors will have 24/7 access to the product information they need to market and sell our switch line of products to their customers, and they can be confident that information is accurate and validated against industry eCommerce standards. This additional automation will also reduce order errors and returns, saving everyone time and money,” said Tom Giordano, national sales and marketing manager, Ronk Electrical Industries.

Ronk is a proud member of NAED. Find out more at

Shat-R-Shield, a manufacturer from Salisbury, N.C., became an OEM customer of the IDW on January 9, 2012. Introducing the first safety-coated fluorescent lamp in 1976, Shat-R-Shield continues the legacy by specializing in shatter-resistant lamps and lighting products. Previously an IDW provider of their own product data, they will also utilize the IDW to receive attributed marketing content from other manufacturers that are a part of their supply chain. Shat-R-Shield is a member of several associations including NAED, IMARK, and A-D. 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.

New DMS Customers

Two companies will be taking advantage of the Data Management Service (DMS), an exclusive outsourcing solution available to IRD CERICOMX® customers. By outsourcing the data synchronization process to IDEA, companies free up limited resources to focus on other initiatives and ensure they meet deadlines from demand partners.

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