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This Week in IDEA | October 8, 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 Customer Spotlight

IDEA announces one new IDEA customer and three new IDEA IRD customers. Also, an existing IDW manufacturer successfully completes data quality training. Read more about these companies and how you can begin trading with them electronically to expand your business.

New IDEA Customer

IPEX Inc., a manufacturer from Verdun, Quebec (Canada), became and IDEA customer on September 29. IPEX designs and manufactures one of the world’s most diverse lines of integrated thermoplastic piping systems—pipe, valves, fittings, auxiliary components and tools—all engineered from the ground up to handle the full range of today’s municipal, industrial, commercial and residential applications. They signed up to provide their product and pricing information to trading partners via Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). Find out more 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 three 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 .

Company Completes Data Quality Training

IDEA is proud to announce that FCI - Burndy Products completed the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) Data Quality Maintenance training. The company has taken over their Flat File EZView formatted updates for product and pricing information and is sending them directly to IDW. The completion of this program demonstrates FCI – Burndy Products’ dedication and commitment to providing the most timely and accurate data to their trading partners and customers. Find out more about FCI – Burndy Products. Congratulations!

If you would like to follow FCI - Burndy Products' lead, please contact at to sign up for the IDW Data Quality Training Program.

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Making a Difference One Step at a Time

Team “IDEA for a Cure” crossed the finish line at the Washington D.C. Breast Cancer 3-Day 60 Mile Walk on Sunday, raising over $14,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. Captained by Lily Saad, IDEA’s business development director, the team raised over $14,000 contributing to over $7 million raised by roughly 3000 participants. Donna Gaylord, wife of Bob Gaylord, Kristin Cahalan, Diane McIntosh, Deona Wolcoff and Robin Miller joined Saad on the journey.

“It was no doubt a very personal journey for each of the walkers, yet each united in a common sense of purpose, mission and vision for the community. I extend my congratulations and appreciation to each of the walkers and to all who contributed to the cause in whatever the manner,” said Bob Gaylord, president, IDEA.

The walk began with an inspiring Opening Ceremony at Potomac Mills Mall and ended with a celebratory Closing Ceremony in the heart of downtown D.C. Participants were there for various reasons – to battle breast cancer, to celebrate the survivors and to find a cure for the next generation. Saad recalls many touching stories she experienced during the walk.

“One woman signed up for the walk with her mother who was battling breast cancer at the time and sadly her mother passed away before the walk began. It was so motivating to watch her daughter stand tall and finish the 60 miles in remembrance of her mother and in hope to save others,” said Saad.

Watch a video of the D.C. Three Day and find out how to sign up for the Three Day walk in a city near you.

IDEA also donated nearly $1200 to the Red Cross Foundation to benefit disaster relief victims across the country in lieu of 10 year anniversary memorabilia at the 2008 Forum. We would like to thank all attendees who generously contributed to this donation. It is much appreciated by all the people and businesses affected by the recent natural disasters – some of which are friends in our industry. Make a donation to your local Red Cross Foundation.

Four tips to raise money for your charity of choice:

  1. Do something bold – challenging yourself pays off when it comes to raising money. People are more likely to support your cause if they see you step up to the plate and sacrifice your time and resources to the cause. Your dedication will motivate and inspire others to give.
  2. Plan ahead – many charitable events require a specific donation amount to participate so be sure to sign up early, set benchmarks and create an action plan to reach your final goal and ensure success.
  3. Add a personal touch – people are much more responsive to personal letters, one-on-one conversations and phone calls than mass emails. Break out from the noise of their everyday life – share stories of people affected if they do not have a direct connection to your cause. Also, be sure to reach out to more than just your family and close friends (e.g. co-workers and community influencers.)
  4. Get creative – think of ways to raise money by organizing something you and your friends can all enjoy. If you love to cook, have a bake sale; if you like the social scene, contact a local restaurant and charge a cover to support your cause; if you are athletic, organize a sports tournament and charge people a fee to enter. No matter what your charity may be, you can think of creative ways to get others involved.

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IDEA Virtualizes IDX to Make Your Business Data Travel Faster

IDEA made server, storage and back-up improvements to the Industry Data Exchange (IDX) in the latest upgrade so that you don’t have to worry about your data after you hit send. The upgrade moved nine physical servers and clones to ten virtual machine servers (a database server was added) hosted on only two physical systems with a server cluster and two supporting systems for backups and administrative tasks. This virtual machine server cluster has an automated failover which provides failure detection within seconds and recovery within approximately ten minutes, guaranteeing your documents will be sent and received safely.

“The virtual machine servers are the latest and greatest technology in the business. Moving from physical servers to virtual servers is like upgrading to a hybrid car, you can go much further using less energy. This upgrade dramatically improves IDX service for customers and reduces IDEA’s carbon footprint,” said Tom Guzik, director, IDW/IDX Solutions.

In addition to switching to virtual servers, IDEA also improved IDX storage and back-up capabilities. The virtual server cluster uses shared network storage in a storage area network (SAN) with unlimited back-up and continuous availability. Furthermore, the back-up tape to the SAN is now faster than ever with more capacity. You can expect the same reliable back-up processes including disaster recovery, hourly database transaction back-up and weekly offsite tape cycling process.

Bottom line - what does this mean for IDX customers? You can send and receive documents via IDX quicker with the elimination of bottlenecks and send/receive delays. You will also have greater back-up security with a guarantee that your data will never be lost. This will help speed up the sales process between trading partners in the supply chain so that you can improve your customer service.

Please contact at if you have any questions about the new upgrade.

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Managing IT in a Downturn: Beyond Cost Cutting

Excerpts from The Mckinsey Quarterly

Looking to slash your IT investments? Consider the possibility that targeted ones might generate savings and revenues exceeding what you could save through cost cutting.

Economies around the world are slowing down, and companies are looking for ways to trim spending and improve the bottom line. Although information technology often represents a small fraction of the corporate cost base, senior executives inevitably turn their attention to IT budgets for substantial contributions. Yet in some instances, IT investments deliver more value to a company’s top and bottom lines—by creating new efficiencies and increasing revenues—than any savings gained from traditional IT cost cutting.

IT has come a long way over the past decade. Budgets grew rapidly during the dot-com boom and the run-up to Y2K, then declined drastically when the bubble burst. Over the following years, CIOs, working with business unit leaders, improved the performance of IT departments by streamlining application portfolios, reducing infrastructure costs, improving governance, consolidating vendors, and outsourcing many activities.

Much has changed across the business landscape as well. Technology now meshes tightly with operations in ways that weren’t possible a decade ago; the apparel maker Li & Fung, for instance, uses IT to manage supply chains with a network of over 7,500 different suppliers. At the same time, e-business, once a buzzword, now forms a part of the corporate status quo. IT capabilities have fostered new sales channels, defined new customer segments, and even helped create new business models.

These factors make reductions in IT spending more complicated than ever. Simplistic cuts, applied across the board, may endanger critical business priorities from sales support to customer service. That potent message should resonate even among corporate officers anxious to find quick savings.

Still, except in the most dire circumstances, turning off technology investments during a downturn is counterproductive. When business picks up, you may lack critical capabilities. Besides, many technology investments can improve profitability in the short to medium term.

When business and IT executives jointly take an end-to-end look at business processes, the resulting investments can have up to ten times the impact of traditional IT cost reduction efforts (Exhibit 1). The trick is to scan for opportunities—such as improving the customer experience, reducing revenue leakage, and improving operating leverage.

Creating impact with technology

Such an effort begins with a survey of operations for areas likely to produce near-term revenue and efficiency gains. In our work across a variety of industries, we have identified a number ways technology investments can have a substantial impact (Exhibit 2).

  • Manage sales and pricing. Develop insights into customer segments and improve pricing discipline to increase revenues without increasing prices.
  • Optimize sourcing and production. Rethink supply chains and logistics to improve the scheduling of deliveries and inventory management.
  • Enhance support processes. Improve the management and use of field forces (such as installers and field technicians) and of customer support centers.
  • Optimize overhead and performance management. Sharpen awareness of risk exposure and improve decision-making and performance-management processes.

To extract value from these opportunities, our experience shows, companies must make managerial improvements in two areas.

Developing new insights

Few companies have successfully capitalized on the explosion of data in recent years. Often this information, residing in separate IT systems or spread across different business units, has never been mined for insights that could add value. Small teams of business and IT staffers can find opportunities by combining a detailed understanding of business processes with straightforward analyses of consolidated data sets. When such teams use the data to compare best practices across regions or to identify under- and overserved customers, for example, they can identify hotspots of revenue leakage.

Optimizing processes

As IT becomes tightly integrated with processes, breaks in workflows often get built into systems and diminish productivity. Shining a light on these areas with an integrated view of operations and technology may well surface problems, which often involve outdated processes, manual steps, redundancies, and bottlenecks. An 80/20 approach can highlight a modest number of activities that, when corrected, deliver a disproportionate amount of value. Companies can usually apply these fixes in short order. At times, new systems may be needed, but modest enhancements or targeted work-arounds often suffice: an additional error check in a credit application, for instance, can reduce the need to rework incorrectly entered data. Adjustments to workflow processes may also promote greater adherence to corporate sales-discounting and bidding policies.

Applying these methods

Applied in high-opportunity areas, these two levers can not only make a short-term contribution to earnings but also build a foundation for future performance. Two cases illustrate this approach.

Revenue and pricing discipline

Maximizing revenues is always important, but even more so during a downturn—particularly when revenues can be increased without raising prices. For many companies, especially those with complex pricing in business-to-business transactions, poor pricing discipline is endemic. Since most pricing regimes depend on IT systems for the process and the workflow, these systems can play a central role by capturing lost revenues.

Employee productivity

Another critical goal during a downturn is getting more “bang for the buck” from employees—for example, by increasing a company’s operating scale, making processes more efficient to reduce rework, and stepping up efforts to automate manual procedures. IT is essential to all of these efforts.

Downturns give companies a chance to buck conventional wisdom and increase their IT investments. From our experience, targeted investments in many areas can generate efficiencies and revenue growth that surpass the savings from straight cost reductions.


Tags for this post: b2b ecommerce technology supply chain

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Did You Know? IDW Hot Fact

IDW's outbound mapper allows you to tailor your data output to the needs of your business. You can elect to receive only the fields you need in the format you need them.

The IDW Help section of the outbound mapper has a step by step document to help you get started. Please contact at to schedule a training,

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