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This Week in IDEA | May 12, 2011

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 and ElectricSmarts Network Agree to Enter Strategic Partnership

IDEA announced that it has agreed to enter into a strategic partnership with ElectricSmarts Network during the NAED National Electrical Leadership Summit on May 1 in San Diego, CA. The partnership is intended to fully synchronize the electrical channel including manufacturers, distributors and end-users.

IDEA helps manufacturers synchronize product information with distributors via the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW); a partnership with ElectricSmarts Network will help close the loop in the supply chain between the distributors and end-users such as contractors and industry-specification professionals. Through the strategic partnership, ElectricSmarts Network will provide manufacturer-authorized IDW data to end-users, and IDEA will offer ElectricSmarts’ SMART eCat web-based e-catalog to distributors for use on their websites.

“This partnership will help close communication and content gaps between trading partners in the electrical supply chain. The end-users are driving the demand in the channel – they request product information from distributors who depend on the manufacturers to provide it. It’s important that everyone speak the same language and understand the ultimate business needs,” said Robert Gaylord, president and CEO, IDEA.

“Connecting and synchronizing the entire electrical supply chain with manufacturer-provided and standardized product data will benefit everyone involved,” said Keith Peck, president, ElectricSmarts Network. “Manufacturers, distributors and end-users each have a vital role in the sales process; this partnership will help them work faster and more efficiently because end-users will now be using IDEA-certified product data for specifying, bidding, purchasing and billing transactions.”

More details about this partnership will be announced in the coming months.

About ElectricSmarts Network: The ElectricSmarts Network has been providing the electrical industry with innovative web-based Marketing, e-Learning, and e-Commerce services for over a decade. Through their Syndicated Content Network, e-Learning Platform, NetPricer electronic pricing service, and SMART eCat e-catalog tool they serve thousands of electrical contractors, MROs, distributors, and manufacturers throughout the industry. ElectricSmarts Network’s mission is to enhance communication and provide value to all levels of the supply chain, improving the efficiency of an already strong channel (

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New Service Helps Manufacturers Leverage the Attribute Schema

Distributors say they are not getting the marketing data they need to sell products and compete. Manufacturers say they are giving distributors all the marketing data asked for. This communications disconnect about product data is resulting in waste for both distributors and manufacturers. Distributors are acquiring and merging product marketing data from multiple sources to keep pace with market pressures and end user demands. Distributors use this “meshed data” to describe products. Concurrently, manufacturers, many with richly populated websites, provide data directly to multiple distributors and other demand users in a series of “one-off” requests.

IDEA worked with industry leaders to create the Electrical Attribute Schema a couple years ago to address the gaps of marketing content in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). The Schema standardizes marketing content and provides a template for manufacturers to populate the IDW with robust product marketing data. And now with the release of version 2.0, manufacturers have new opportunities to bolster their IDW presence. They can use the Schema to populate the IDW with more marketing content in more product categories than ever before – nearly 2500 categories, a 64% increase.

While investing time to gather, reformat and upload these attributes results in significant manufacturer ROI, the challenge for many manufacturers is finding the time with internal resources.

IDEA, in partnership with DATAgility, is now offering an Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS) so that manufacturers can outsource some, or all, of the schema-based marketing data population to a team of experts who understand their business.

Learn more about this new service – download the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS) product brief>

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Wall Street Journal Discusses an Exec's Role in IT

Modern Distribution Management (MDM) responded to an article published by the Wall Street Journal, “Four Questions Every CEO Should Ask About IT.” Both the article and the response bring up some important points we think you should consider to make the most of your IT initiatives.

WSJ Questions for CEOs:

  1. Are we using technology to transform our business, or are we just adding bells and whistles to existing processes?
  2. Are you ignoring important business differences as you standardize processes across the company?
  3. Who is making sure the company’s digital strategy is being implemented?
  4. Is electronic data empowering your people or controlling them?

Read the Wall Street Journal article “Four Questions Every CEO Should Ask About IT”>

Read the Modern Distribution Management response “How to Ensure You Are Making the Most of Your IT Investment”>

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Border States Electric: Sponsor of the IDEA E-Biz Forum 2011

Thanks to Border States Electric for their Bronze sponsorship of the IDEA E-Biz Forum 2011. Border States demonstrates its support of the only eBusiness event dedicated to business-to-business leaders in the electrical supply chain. Their leadership and partnership is greatly appreciated by all.

About Border States Electric (BSE)

BSE provides products and services to the construction, industrial and utility markets. Active employees own 100 percent of the company under the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The employee-owned company has approximately 1,300 employees and 58 branch operations in 13 states. BSE is the ninth largest electrical distributor and one of the 100 largest private ESOP companies in the U.S. Corporate headquarters are located in Fargo, N.D. Learn more at

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New Synchronization 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 14 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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