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This Week in IDEA | July 26, 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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IDEA Announces Bands of Excellence Manufacturers

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Platinum level companies who have also achieved 100% population.

As part of the ‘Bands of Excellence’ rating program, IDEA is recognizing the manufacturers that are providing the robust product marketing content that their distributors requested through the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). Find out which manufacturers have achieved the Platinum, Gold and Bronze level status for their product data.

“We introduced the IDW Bands of Excellence program to honor the manufacturers that are providing exceptional value and marketing support to their trading partners. Since the program began in April, the marketing content in the IDW has more than tripled. We are excited for the new opportunities that will open for all companies involved in this effort,” said Steve Sokolow, IDEA Chairman, and Chairman of the Board, Leviton.

The ‘Bands of Excellence’ rating system measures each manufacturer’s completion percentage for providing robust marketing content to their trading partners through the IDW. The product marketing content for Specification documents, Attributes, Images, and Descriptions all had to be populated with data. The banding criterion is as follows:

  1. Platinum band: the most elite group of manufacturer leaders that have provided the marketing content for 75-100% of their stock products
  2. Gold band: manufacturers that have provided the marketing content for 50-74% of their stock products
  3. Bronze band: manufacturers that have provided the marketing content for 10-49% of their stock products

The Platinum manufacturers are: Allied Moulded Products Inc.; Bridgeport Fittings Inc.; Burndy; CABLOFIL Inc.; **Columbia Lighting; Cooper Crouse-Hinds; Cooper Lighting; Cooper Lighting Canada; Dual-Lite; EiKO, Ltd.; **Electri-Flex; **Hubbell Lighting; Hubbell Power Systems; **ILSCO; Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc.; OSRAM SYLVANIA; Pentair Technical Products; Progress Lighting; RAB Lighting, Inc.; RACO; Southwire Company; Specified Technologies, Inc.; and The Wiremold Company.

“These companies have taken a leadership role, and it is appropriate that they be recognized. I’ve been extremely impressed with the way most manufacturers are stepping up to the plate. These, in addition to the Gold and Bronze-banded manufacturers, and some of the un-banded group, are working exceptionally hard to accommodate their distributors. They’ve heard the message,” said Bob Gaylord, President and CEO, IDEA.

View all banded manufacturers and learn more about this program. This list will be continually updated as progress is made by the manufacturers.

**Companies that have provided robust marketing content for 100% of their product­s in the IDW.

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2nd Segment of the Cooper / Border States Podcast Series

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The 2nd segment ­of th­e “Climbing the­ E-B­iz Mountain” podcast series cap­tures a disc­ussion about establishing consistency and milestones, and measuring progress with eBusin­ess projects. Listen in as Cooper Industries and Border States Electric representatives shar­e th­eir secrets to success, and don’t forget to share your eBusiness accomplishments with IDEA -- nominate your company for IDEA’s Richard Buzun eBusiness Award by August 17th.


  • Greg Thrall, Senior VP Operations & IT (retired), Border States Electric ­
  • Jason Archbold, Marketing Catalog Supervisor, Border States Electric 
  • Samer Shehadeh, EDI Manager, Cooper Industries ­ 
  • Lorraine Mott, Project Leader Electronic Commerce, Cooper Crouse-Hinds 
  • Sonia Coleman, Moderator­

Sneak Peek of the 2nd Segment:­

“In any project you work with where there’s a large, multi-year ERP implementation­, a multi-phase data sync project, I think it’s key to praise your team members. Keep a positive attitude. Make the engagement project fun.”
­­– Cooper Industries

“Focus on the end points, focus on what you’re trying to accomplish and the outputs of what you’re trying to get out, and that can provide a lot of motivation to the team… What gets measured, gets managed.”—Border States

Listen to the 2nd segment of the “Climbing the E-Biz Mountain” podcast series>

Download the “Climbing the E-Biz Mountain” article from NEMA’s electroindustry>

Register for the E-Biz Forum to learn more from these experts – both Cooper and Border States will be hosting break-out sessions at the event September 25-27 in Dallas, TX.

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Nominate your company for the only electrical eBusiness Award by August 17


I­t’s time to submit your company’s nomination for the Richard Buzun Award  – the only eBusiness award in the electrical industry. Thi­s has been a huge year for eCommerce initiatives in the electrical channel. Don’t miss this opportunity to distinguish your company as a leader in the electrical supply chain.

The Richard Buzun Award recognizes a ­manufacturer and distributor company for ­reaching th­e highest standards in eBusiness and promoting eBusiness best practices. Winners will be recognized on stage at the IDEA E-Biz Forum on September 27, and will join a prestigious group of past winners. Last year’s winners were Cooper Industries and Border States Electric.

Nominees are evaluated on achievements in: ­­

  • B2B eCommerce -- actively seeks ways to increase electronic document exchange in the channel, adopt new technologies for advancing a web/mobile presence, and improve web storefront capabilities. NAED's Strategic Technology Task Force has published a "Checklist for an Effective Online Presence" to help measure success in this area.
  • Data Synchronization -- possesses internal data management processes that ensure the quality and accuracy of product information distributed to trading partners and/or customers.
  • Standards Adoption -- contributed to eBusiness standards creation and/or implementation.

More information about the award criteria and process>

Tell us your story! Send a paper describing 3-5 eBusiness best practices implemented by your company that have streamlined business processes and made it easy to do business with you. Include the details and the benefits realized. Business process improvement is a journey, so don’t limit your thinking to just initiatives implemented in the past year.

Please email your story (1-2 pages maximum) to Barbara Prince at by August 17th. Also, don’t hesitate to email or call at if you have any questions about the award process.

Register online for the E-Biz Forum>

2011 Richard Buzun Award winners recognized at the E-Biz Forum


Border States from left: Bob Gaylord, President and CEO, IDEA; Greg Thrall, Sr. VP, Operations; Todd Kadry, Marketing Solutions Manager; Jason Archbold, Marketing Catalog Supervisor; Jason Seger, VP, Operations & Inventory; Jason Schulz, Data Support & Project Specialist

Cooper from left: Bob Gaylord, President and CEO, IDEA; Scott Feldbush, Director, EBS Shared Services; Lorraine Mott, Project Leader, eCommerce; Samer Shehadeh, Manager, EDI/eCommerce

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NAED Exec Guide #3: How to Manage E-Commerce Capability


NAED’s Strategic Technology Task Force recently published their 3rd guide: Executive’s Guide #3: Strategically Managing Your Company’s E-Commerce Capability, a document that assists distributor executives in understanding key strategies to creating effective e-commerce websites. These strategies will support a company’s goals by increasing sales, improving efficiencies, and cutting operation costs.

Five key strategies highlighted in this guide:

  • Link your website and business system. This integration will:
    • Minimize out-of-stock situations due to outdated inventory
    • Speed up order fulfillment by eliminating manual reentry
    • Reduce errors on invoices
  • Safeguard your cyber-security. E-commerce websites must:
    • Provide Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates so customers know purchasing information is secure
    • Sensibly use firewalls and spam filters to minimize electronic incursions.
  • Equip customers to request quotes online. Customers should be able to:
    • Request and view quotes online
    • Request special pricing online
    • Upload bills of materials for quotes
    • Convert online quotes into orders
  • Enable online ordering and purchasing. Customers should be able to:
    • “Add to Cart” as well as change, edit, or update their electronic orders
    • Have a choice of shipment methods
    • Choose between various methods of payment such as bill to account, credit or debit, virtual wallets such as PayPal, and electronic checks
    • Know their payment information is protected by Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance
  • Furnish online order tracking. This will:
    • Minimize calls asking “Where’s my order?”
    • Allow inside and outside sales personnel to spend more time selling instead of handling calls pertaining to open orders
    • Provide higher level of service to customers

The report also discusses strategies for saving customers’ time such as providing log-in capability, facilitating access to their account data, furnishing transaction history online, and offering online account management tools.

Download the pdf of NAED Exec Guide #3>

Find more guides and resources on the NAED website>

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Godfrey Day Joins the IDEA Team


G­odfrey Day, formerly of GS1 US and 1SY­NC, has joined the Account Management team. At IDEA, he will be acting as the single point-of-contact for retail suppliers (including IRD CERICOMX® customers) and primary interface for all customer engagements.

Godfrey comes to IDEA with over six years of experience and knowledge in the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) requirements, standards and business processes. He has the experience of leading data sources as well as data recipients through troubleshooting and best practices for data synchronization. Godfrey recently graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Information Systems from Wright State University.

Godfrey can be reached at or at .

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IDW Hot Fact: How to Extract Attributes


By Robert Hollands, Data Quality Analyst

Distributors that are Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) catalog-level subscribers can receive product attributes (as defined in the industry’s Electrical Attribute Schema) by setting up a separate extraction from their authorized manufacturers. Once this set-up is completed, distributors can decide what format they want to receive the attributes including:

XML: Whereas flat-file formats work better for distributors using existing or legacy systems such as Eclipse, XML may be a better solution for distributors who are using proprietary software or have developers who can tailor the data to meet their needs. XML is more translatable to a database and lends itself more readily to direct or automated importation into a Product Inventory Management (PIM) System than a flat-file.

“AD” Flat File: The AD flat-file format arranges the data so that there’s a single record per item containing all of the item’s attributes. However, the applicable attribute field names would change depending on the item, because different attributes are applicable to different item categories, determined by the UNSPSC code. In this format, the same attribute field name (“Color”, for example) might be the seventh attribute for one item, but the tenth attribute for another. Here is an example of the “AD” file format:


(click image to enlarge)­

Some distributor business systems cannot handle dynamic fields, and require that the field names remain the same no matter the item extracted. Since there are over 3400 unique attribute names in use, building a static format like this which would contain all possibilities would be impractical. In this case, an “AM” flat file would be the better choice.

NEW! “AM” Flat File: A flat-file format that more closely resembles how the attributed data is stored in the IDW. The “AM” format allows for multiple records per item, but only one attribute per record. For example, if the item has six attributes, rather than the item appearing on one row with its attributes populated in the adjacent columns, the item would display on six rows with only one attribute in the adjacent column per iteration. Here is an example of the new “AM” file format:



(click image to enlarge)

How to select the new attribute format:

Log into the IDW and click on “Data Request”, located in the “Basic” menu. Again, even if you already have a regularly-scheduled automated data extraction running for your authorized manufacturers, you’ll need to create a separate one for attributes. Under “Format”, select “Attributed Data”. When you select this option, a new box will appear called “Attributed Data Output Format.” Here you may choose either XML, the "AD" flat-file format (one record per item, multiple attributes), or the new "AM" flat-file format (multiple records per item, one attribute per record). Configure any options on the other tabs just as you would with a transactional data request, and hit the “Save” button.



(click image to enlarge)

More and more manufacturers are realizing the importance of attributed data and have committed to providing this information in the IDW. Not only does it help distributors develop a robust web storefront, but it helps manufacturers’ distinguish their products within a product line and from competing items. With the addition of the AM option, distributors are a­ble to select the best way to receive their manufacturers’ attributed information.

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New B2B eCommerce and Synchronization Customers

New iCIMM2 Customer

Van Meter Inc., an electrical distributor, recently became an iCIMM2 customer. For more than 80 years, Van Meter Inc. has provided customers with electrical, automation, lighting, datacomm, and power transmission supplies. As a 100% employee-owned company, Van Meter employee-owners are empowered to develop unique solutions to meet unique customer needs. They will leverage IDEA’s iCIMM2 to build a robust web storefront for their customers. 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 12 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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