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This Week in IDEA | March 30, 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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Are You at a Crossroads with your EDI Efforts?

By Barbara Prince, IDX Manager, IDEA

As the electrical industry continues to seek strategies to remain competitive in a global market, organizations rely on electronic data interchange (EDI) to improve their business processes through fast electronic transmission of accurate and standardized data. Companies must devote staff, training and resources to undertake EDI initiatives internally, but some organizations may benefit from outsourced EDI services.

Does your company fit one of the profiles below?

  1. A company that needs to devote their IT staff and time to an urgent company initiative or wants to streamline their business processes to optimize and free up internal resources.
  2. A small business with limited resources that needs to deploy staff more efficiently and focus on their core competencies. The staff handling EDI is doing so in addition to other priorities and may not be experts.
  3. A company whose trading partners are mandating the use of EDI, and has neither sufficient time nor resources to meet these demands on-time or satisfactorily.
  4. A company whose trading partners are mandating the use of EDI, and has neither sufficient time nor resources to meet these demands on-time or satisfactorily. Adopting new software internally requires time and resources to research and purchase a translator, implement a new system and train staff.
  5. An organization that has invested in a new ERP system and now needs to integrate EDI with new document formats and new translation maps.

IDEA recognizes the need in the electrical channel for additional EDI resources and understands many companies are at a crossroads. Businesses are deciding how they should upgrade software, invest in translators, and meet mandates from customers; and if they should do so internally or through outsourcing. IDEA offers EDI Managed Services to help companies that face one or more of the scenarios above.

EDI Managed Services enables you to conduct EDI without the need to hire additional staff or purchase new software. The service provides varying levels of support, from writing and testing new maps to managing trading partner relationships continuously. Mapping services are for traffic on the Industry Data Exchange (IDX) network, or any traffic that a trading partner wants to migrate to the IDX.

EDI Managed Services Levels of Support:

  • Level 1: On-Demand Mapping -- IDEA develops document translation maps to EDIPro guidelines or to your custom specifications, and deploys them to the IDX network.
  • Level 2: On-Demand Mapping, Testing & Support -- IDEA develops your document translation maps as above, then engages with you and your trading partner to conduct end-to-end testing. IDEA acts as your EDI help desk to answer your technical support questions and assist your internal staff.
  • Level 3: Full EDI Managed Services -- In addition to all services listed above, IDEA acts as your complete EDI department to provide comprehensive consulting, mapping and translation services, and trading partner support. IDEA provides everything you need to maintain and add value to your trading partner relationships.

EDI Managed Services offers flexible options to support your EDI efforts, and can be customized to fit your company’s needs. Request more information>

As part of IDEA’s new educational Webinar Series, an upcoming webinar will focus on ways you can prioritize and expand your EDI efforts with more trading partners, and cut costs by automating more critical business processes. Please leave a comment or tweet topics and questions you’d like to see covered in this upcoming webinar, “Automating Order Management” (Don’t forget to mention us and start using the #IDEAwebinars hashtag)!

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“The Digital You” Webinar Highlights and New Date Announced

IDEA kicked off the “Industry Inspired. Industry Wired.” Webinar Series last week with the “The Digital You: Building a Strong Web Presence.” Here are some highlights for those of you who missed it – there will be an encore live webinar on Monday, April 23rd 2pm – 3pm EDT, so be sure to register and help spread the word to your colleagues and trading partners.

“I thought this was an excellent "story." It was put together well and is something that can be used by all companies to educate their management on the importance of this initiative to the industry.” – Ann Jaehn, Director of Pricing, Thomas & Betts

“I’m really glad I caught this webinar. It was polished, informative, and well-executed. Mary and Denise led a great session.” – Marty Brett, Director – Codes and Standards, Wheatland Tube Company

Tweets from the event by :

  • David Starr, guest distributor: Credible manufacturer content is king to create robust web storefronts and searches. #IDEAWebinars
  • David Starr, guest distributor: Our customers need web storefronts to find products easily or it might as well not be on there. #IDEAWebinars
  • Peter Vient, guest manufacturer: We need to get our distributors more data and more accurate data. #IDEAWebinars
  • Peter Vient, guest manufacturer: IDW previews our product webpages. We literally see exactly where we need to improve images and descriptions. #IDEAWebinars
  • What's the 90:10 Rule? 90% of your business is driven by 10% of your products. Focus your data needs on your core products. #IDEAWebinars
  • An easy acronym for the parts of robust data - SAID. (S)pec sheets (A)ttributes (I)mages (D)escriptions HkIstZb9

Next Live Webinar:

Registration is open for the next live session of “The Digital You” Webinar on April 24, 2012 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT. Take advantage of this live session to get your questions answered by industry experts.

Find out more about the “Digital You” Webinar and Register Now>

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AD Launches New Public Website & CEO Blog

Affiliated Distributors (AD) recently launched a new public website: in an effort to engage and connect their members, suppliers and rep associates. According to AD’s Chairman and CEO, Bill Weisberg, “AD has a very transparent and inclusive culture; our new public website engages the 100,000 plus member, supplier and rep employees within our community without the need for log-in passwords. Our new website contains a wealth of information about AD, dispels some of the false notions out there about us and connects and promotes our market leading distributors and manufacturers and reps all year long.”

New elements of include the use of videos to tell the story of AD and its community of independents, industry-specific blogs and the integration of social media throughout the site. Bill Weisberg also has his own blog to share his thoughts and opinions throughout the year. His most recent post “Invest in Relationships” shares anecdotal advice on building relationships in business-to-business selling between distributors and suppliers.

Read the full press release announcing the website>

Visit Bill Weisberg’s blog>

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Product Lifecycle Management Helps Businesses Go Lean

This Epicor blog post examines a few ways manufacturers can reduce paper-based processes for leaner operations, including electronic processes for bringing products to market and managing product changes. The post states that using paper-less technologies, such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems, to support these processes can enable faster, more efficient product innovation.

Manufacturers can further augment the benefits by utilizing the best practice document published by the IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC), “Product Life Cycle Management Benefit Analysis.” The analysis breaks down the purpose, common problems, recommended solutions and benefits of each item status code in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). An item status code can be used to communicate the current life cycle “state” of any given product. The progression of a product life cycle begins with new items communicated as “Active” and for sale, through “Planned Obsolescence”,“Obsolete”, and finally “Deletion”. Manufacturers can utilize these guidelines to improve the quality of product data shared between trading partners and, as a result, benefit from lower operating costs, superior service and increased sales opportunities.

Download IDEA’s Product Lifecycle Management Benefit Analysis>

Find out more about IDEA’s Standards Resources>

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New Synchronization Customers

New IDW Customer

Erin Electrical Enterprises, an electrical distributor based in Boynton Beach, FL, became an IDW customer on March 23, 2012. Erin Electrical services the industrial, commercial, mining, petrochemical, energy, water treatment, fishing and export market. 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 17 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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