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This Week in IDEA | May 27, 2009

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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New IDEA and IDEA IRD Customers

IDEA announces one new IDEA customer and eight new IDEA IRD customers. Read more about these companies and how you can begin trading with them electronically to expand your business.

New IDEA Customer

Redlon & Johnson, from Portland, ME, became an IDEA customer on May 19, 2009. Redlon & Johnson is a wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating, cooling and industrial products. They will take advantage of the cost savings and reliability of Industry Data Exchange (IDX). Find out more about Redlon & Johnson at Welcome aboard!

New IDEA IRD Customers

IDEA, a 1SYNC Data Pool On-Board Solution (OBS) partner, implements suppliers that subscribe to the 1SYNC data pool using IDEA's IRD CERICOMX® application. IDEA was recently assigned eight suppliers:

These companies will be trained to use IRD CERICOMX®, an IDEA branded product for supporting and uploading supplier product information into the GS1 Registry® and GDSN via the 1SYNC Data Pool.

If you would like to find out more about the CERICOMX® product, please contact , IRD Product & Customer Support Manager, at .

Tags for this post: customers idx ird redlon johnson

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Finding Ways to Go Electronic in ‘09

Companies of all sizes can increase competitiveness in an age of adaptable and affordable technology

Finding ways to go electronic may seem like an expensive and time consuming undertaking for small-midsize companies with limited staff and resources - especially in today’s economy. Those companies that conduct some or all of their business transactions using manual or paper-based processes should reevaluate ways to go electronic before they are unlinked from the supply chain.

First, ask yourself, “Why does my company still use manual processes?” A popular answer is a variation of, “My company is not large enough to justify the costs or reap the benefits of electronic processes.”

Now look at it from the perspective of your trading partners that primarily conduct their business utilizing automated electronic transactions (e.g. electronic data interchange - EDI). Many of them conduct business with hundreds of trading partners across the globe and your company may just be a pinpoint on their customer map. When these companies evaluate their strategic plans, they may ask themselves, “Are sales from this company significant enough to justify the cost of doing business?”

The industrial and retail industries provide examples of the latter way of thinking. Rockwell Automation, the world's largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, requires their distributors to export product and pricing data from a single electronic source, Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), to increase efficiencies and better ensure data accuracy. In the retail industry, Lowe's mandates all of their manufacturers to utilize GS1’s GDSN data synchronization standards. It is certain this trend will continue as the benefits of automating business processes in the supply chain continue to grow. Now is the time to go electronic if your business wants to compete and trade on a national and global scale.

1. Reevaluate your technology options

It is easier and more affordable than ever to purchase software and services that are customizable to your needs and resources. There are a variety of tools that can help your company go electronic including EDI translation services (any-to-any translation including fax) and web forms. These tools can translate your data into EDI using a simple standardized format and enable you to conduct EDI without investing in an in-house EDI system. In the end, you save time and money and your trading partners perceive your company as larger and more robust.

IDEA partners with top technology companies, Activant Solutions, Sterling Commerce and Faxinating Solutions, to offer inexpensive services that can help your company transform 100% of your manual and paper processes to electronic.

2. Collaborate with others

If outsourcing your electronic processes is still too costly or time consuming for you, consider teaming up with others in your industry to mitigate the cost. You can accomplish this through industry association involvement, building stronger trading partner relationships with your suppliers or even collaborating with friendly competitors.

Last year, four friendly competitors from Buffalo, NY demonstrated teamwork and collaboration to establish an electronic relationship with their suppliers. The companies worked together to reach IMARK Group’s highest eCommerce honor, Gold tier. Since then, they have experienced quicker order fulfillment and improvements in customer service. Read the complete case study.

3. Start small

Going electronic is more than a process change - in many cases it is a cultural change. The best way to begin an electronic initiative is to prioritize based on the processes that are most commonly used. Work on automating those processes and continue to evolve from there.

For example, many distributors transact purchase orders and invoices regularly. An electrical distributor from Illinois decreased their average order error rate on vendor invoices from approximately 7-8% to 1-2% with their most valued vendors after they automated the process. At an average error rate of 6%, the distributor saved $300 ($50 per invoice * 6 Invoices) per every 100 invoices. Taking a small step in automating one business transaction can make a big difference in your bottom line. Read the complete case study.

Every company is unique and so is each route to supply chain automation. The final result will always lead to stronger trading partner relationships, cost reductions and time savings. Once you build a strong electronic business foundation, the possibilities for growth are endless.

Tags for this post: edi b2b ecommerce technology

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Forum Anticipation is Electric Despite Economy

This year’s E-Biz Forum will once again feature the annual Tech Center exhibition which has proven to be a win-win for technology companies and electrical distribution leaders. IDEA is proud to announce the first 10 exhibitors for the 2009 event.

The Tech Center is a mini-trade show where Forum attendees can find out the latest advancements in B2B and eCommerce technology. Here, technology companies meet one-on-one with attendees to demonstrate their innovative products and help pinpoint areas in which organizations can cut costs and build revenues. This year attendees can collect passport stamps at each Tech Center booth to win one of three Flip Mino™ Digital Video Pocket Camcorders.

Meet our first 10 exhibitors:

  • Activant Solutions Inc. - a leading technology provider of business management solutions including tailored proprietary software, professional services, content, supply chain connectivity, and analytics.
  • Unilog Content Solutions - India’s leading catalog management and data cleansing company.
  • DATAgility - a premier provider of data services that helps suppliers and their distributors achieve and maintain quality data.
  • Stibo Systems - helps companies of all sizes manage master data to reduce costs, improve time to market by providing solutions to gather, manage, share and publish product information efficiently.
  • Tour de Force - provides a customer relationship management (CRM) & sales force automation (SFA) solution that seamlessly integrates with your business system.
  • Billtrust - offers an advanced suite of bill delivery products including paper, fax, email, hosted online billing (EIPP) and a web-based bill archiving and customer service tool.
  • dataZen - fuses the art of photography and technology with process engineering whether it is six sigma, ISO 9001 at core manufacturing or Rational Unified Process (RUP) at the business process application development.
  • Endeca - provides information access software to help people search, analyze, and explore complex information.
  • Element Five Solutions - delivers first-class, reliable, and low cost ERP services that prioritize your specific needs above everything else.
  • IDEA - the only standard-setting organization offering a full range of eCommerce products and services designed to drive supply network efficiencies, reduce costs, slash cycle times, and ensure standardized, timely, and accurate data.

Find out more about these exhibitors.

Tech Center booths are going fast – find out what’s left and register today!

Need more details? Download the Tech Center and Sponsorship Prospectus to find out all the benefits of exhibiting and sponsoring the 2009 Forum.

Tags for this post: ebiz forum tech center

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Upcoming IDW and IDX Training Opportunities

This month IDEA continues to offer training sessions for Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) and Industry Data Exchange (IDX). Sign up for training in June and submit your topic suggestions for the IDW and IDX User Groups to be held at the Forum in September.

On-Demand IDW Training

IDW training is offered on-demand for one-on-one sessions. The trainings are divided into two parts for manufacturers and distributors. Part one reviews the essential business elements of IDW and part two dives deeper into the application. Niche training (e.g. net price, inbound mapping, etc.) is also available upon request.

Customers interested in scheduling a one-on-one training session for IDW should contact , DSP Support Administrator, at .

IDX Tracker Training Schedule

Tuesday, June 2: 1:30-2:30 PM
Tuesday, June 9: 1:30-2:30 PM
Tuesday, June 16: 1:30-2:30 PM
Tuesday, June 23: 1:30-2:30 PM

Times don’t work for your schedule? Contact our flexible IDX training expert, at to schedule a one-on-one training at a time that works for you.

In addition to these trainings, we encourage you to attend the IDW and IDX User Groups at the IDEA E-Biz Forum 2009. These new sessions will provide hands on training and the opportunity for you to share ideas with our IDW and IDX experts. Topics covered in these user groups will be determined by your feedback - please submit topic suggestions to the IDW and IDX training contacts listed above.

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IDX Hot Fact: Track Your Business Metrics to Make Better Decisions

The IDX Document Tracker records the flow of documents sent through your company for processing. You can use the Tracker to obtain helpful metrics such as traffic and billing activity to ensure you make the right business decisions at the right time.

Metrics reporting is a fundamental component of the Tracker, enabling customers to view, export, and print reports at the Document and Analysis level. The Tracker gives you flexibility to search for metrics using a variation of criteria including:

  • Date range
  • EDI document type
  • Trading partner ID

Usage of Tracker metrics can range from reporting a monthly overview of traffic to verifying a price in a document by opening it as raw EDI data. Any document that passes through the system is tracked and archived for 60 days.

Tags for this post: idx hot facts document tracking

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