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This Week in IDEA | November 19, 2008

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 is Thankful for… YOU!

In this time of gratitude, we are thankful to count you among our friends, customers and partners. The entire IDEA staff wishes you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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IDEA Customer Spotlight

IDEA announces one new IDEA customer and six 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

Mid-West Wholesale Lighting Corp., a distributor from Los Angeles, CA, became an IDEA customer on November 18, 2008. Mid-West Wholesale Lighting is one of the largest independent wholesale lighting companies in the United States with a focus on service to customers and vendors. They will take advantage of the cost savings and reliability of Industry Data Exchange (IDX). Mid-West Wholesale Lighting is a proud member of IMARK Group. Find out more at  

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 six 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 .


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Your Idea is the New IDEA

IDEA introduces a fresh approach to collect feedback and to continue an ongoing relationship with the industry. Discover the new way to share your eCommerce ideas and check back in for responses from IDEA’s President and CEO, Bob Gaylord.

IDEA was created 10 years ago because people in businesses like yours spoke up and shared their ideas. We are aware that business has changed dramatically over the last 10 years - people are busier than ever trying to keep up in the aggressive economy. Nonetheless, it is important to continue our tradition of collaboration so we can move forward together as an industry.

We request that you take a few minutes out of your day to tell us about your business needs and ideas for the future of eCommerce. Bob Gaylord, President and CEO, will review your recommendations and reply via video twice a month on our new online forum - We truly value your suggestions so don’t be shy. Your ideas will help shape our eCommerce solutions.

Got ideas up your sleeve? Join the discussion at

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A Journey through Data Discovery

Two trading partners share their data synchronization findings and discuss their next excursion

Phil Barrios, Senior Director eBusiness, Hubbell Incorporated (CT) and Ron Schlader, VP Operations and Quality, Crescent Electric Supply (IA), have become the Lewis and Clark of the electrical industry. They travel from one industry meeting to the next to share stories of data discovery in hopes that others will follow. The beginning of the two part article series…

Barrios and Schlader help influence the industry via their roles on the IDEA Board of Directors. Their dedication to the advancement of data synchronization efficiencies is vital to their partnership and success.

Both companies began utilizing IDEA’s data synchronization services 10 years ago. Since then, Crescent has reduced the average error rate on vendor invoices from the 6-8% range to less than 2% with their most valued vendors. At a minimum cost of $50 to fix each invoice, Crescent saves approximately $300 ($50x6) per 100 invoices because of data synchronization. On the manufacturer side, Hubbell has seen significant cost savings through reduced errors. Some of their businesses report less than a 5% error rate for processing purchase orders, compared to double digit rates before synchronization.

“IDEA helped Hubbell and Crescent with the heavy lifting of data synchronization – building the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), enabling one standard format for the communication of the dataset between trading partners and automating processes related to synchronizing transactional data (product, pricing and packaging). Since then, Hubbell has increased ROI by realizing ongoing cost savings from its business units,” said Barrios.

According to Barrios, the secret to Hubbell’s success is the fact that company leaders ‘get it’ when it comes to data sync benefits.

“To increase profits, you either sell more products or make more money on what you currently sell by cutting costs. In the next few years, it will be especially important for us to focus on the latter due to the poor economic outlook. Competition is certain to intensify so we will leverage technology to improve our position in the future,“ said Barrios.

The theme Barrios and Schlader continue to emphasize is the ever-growing consumer demand for more easily accessible detailed product information. Both Barrios and Schlader agree that times are changing and manufacturers and distributors of all sizes must adapt or they will be left behind.

“Our data sophistication must increase as the next generation who grew up with information at their fingertips enters the workforce. Our ultimate goal is to improve the customer experience and match the right product to the right customer needs at the counter and on the web. We need more than basic transactional data to keep our competitive edge in this new generation,” said Schlader.

According to Schlader, distributors need attributed data (i.e. UNSPSC codes, long descriptions, images, product specs, marketing materials, etc.) to create a sophisticated search, find and sell process.

“Crescent Electric Supply currently has an online catalog of approximately 300,000 products, a shopping cart tool and order entry system. The problem is that it is often difficult for browsers to search and find the products they need. When contractors visit my website to order a product, they expect to have the same experience as buying a cell phone or digital camera.” said Schlader. “Customers most often use words to describe what they need. We have people that interpret these words to identify a product so it can be added to an order for picking, packing, and shipping. We now need to take the next step and have computers do the interpretation. We need the option to search for products based on a variety of criteria (attributes) and access images, detailed descriptions, product specs, etc. to ensure they are buying the product that best fits their needs.”

Barrios explained why manufacturers must make it a top priority to provide attributed data to distributors via Industry Data Warehouse (IDW).

“It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure their product data is accurate and current. If the only ‘product attributes’ provided is catalog number and price – the product could easily become a commodity in the eyes of our customer. Providing rich, attributed data via IDW will help manufacturers differentiate their products based on key features and benefits, not solely on catalog number or price. Furthermore, synchronizing this data through a single database will improve the time-to-market and cost saving benefits Hubbell and Crescent already experience with transactional data,” said Barrios.

One part of the success equation is the work being performed by the IDEA Standards Committee, which is the process of developing the standards for product categorization and attributed data. Read more about IDEA’s progress with UNSPSC codes in the August 13 issue of This Week in IDEA.

“The IDEA Standards Committee is aggressively focused on building an Electrical Product Attribute Schema, based on the lowest level product categories of the UNSPSC code set. This schema will provide the industry with a template for standardized attributes, providing manufacturers with a guideline to synchronize their product attributes with their distributors ERP systems and on-line catalogs,” said Mary Shaw, Standards Director, IDEA.

You can get more information on attributed data in the duo’s presentation from the IDEA E-Biz Forum 2008, “Data Supply vs. Demand”, as well as the presentation review, The Phil and Ron Show, by Joe Salimando. Barrios and Schlader will expand on the topics addressed at the Forum session during their presentation tentatively scheduled for May 18, 2009 at the NAED Leadership Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Want to know how you can prepare to join Barrios and Schlader on their next excursion to synchronize attributed data? Discover how they got where they are today in next week’s issue of This Week in IDEA. Barrios and Schlader will walk you through their journey through the ‘Paper Times’, ‘Electronic Age’ and ‘Standards Era’. Plus Barrios will give directions on how to prepare data for synchronization via IDW.

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IDW and IDX December Training Schedule

This month IDEA continues to offer focused training sessions for Industry Data Exchange (IDX) and Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). The December dates for these trainings are now available.

IDX Tracker Training Sessions:
Tuesday, December 09: 1:30-2:30PM
Tuesday, December 16: 1:30-2:30PM

IDW Distributor Training Sessions:
Wednesday, December 10: 1:30-3:00PM

IDW Manufacturer Training Sessions:
Thursday, December 4: 1:30-3:30PM
Thursday, December 18: 1:30-3:30PM

Net Price Training Sessions:
Thursday, December 11: 1:30-2:00PM

Inbound Mapping Sessions:
Wednesday, December 3: 1:30-2:30PM
Wednesday, December 17: 1:30-2:30PM

Times don’t work for your schedule? Contact our flexible training experts to schedule a time that works for you.

IDX Training Contact: at

IDW Training Contact: at

Additional training sessions are announced each month in This Week in IDEA.

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Did You Know? IDX Hot Fact

IDX offers a custom mapping service so that you can conduct electronic data interchange (EDI) with all your trading partners. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of eCommerce even if you or one of your trading partners do not have the resources to conduct native EDI or require a special variation of the ANSI X12 format.

IDX’s custom mapping service is just one of the many ways IDEA can help you engage in EDI with more of your trading partners to realize the benefits of eCommerce.

These file types can be translated with our any-to-any translation service:

  • EDI
  • XML
  • Flat File/Text
  • CSV

eCommerce is possible for everyone. Contact at to find out more.


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