IDEA’s 2012 Year in Review

By Robert E. Gaylord, President & CEO, IDEA

In 2012, IDEA developed impactful partnerships, added three new eBusiness applications to increase supply chain efficiency, and collaborated with many companies to increase the marketing content in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) by more than tenfold.  None of this would be possible without your contributions and support in promoting eBusiness throughout the electrical industry. Congrats on another successful year! 

Banding together to improve access to marketing content

Thank you to all the manufacturers that have committed to the industry effort to provide robust product marketing content. We know it’s not an easy task, oftentimes even requiring an overhaul of a system’s infrastructure, to incorporate the distribution of quality data into the new product launch process. Thank you also to the distributors that have given voice to the need for this data and taken the time to talk to their suppliers about why this data in instrumental for moving the industry forward digitally and globally. In recognition of these efforts, IDEA introduced the IDW ‘Bands of Excellence' program to measure and promote the manufacturers that are providing exceptional value and marketing support to their trading partners. Congratulations to the 50+ manufacturers that have achieved the Platinum Band (75-100% of stock items populated with marketing content), and the nine manufacturers leading the effort at nearly 100% completion: Anamet Electrical, Inc., Anamet Canada, Inc., Columbia Lighting, EGS Electrical Group, Electri-Flex, Hubbell Lighting, ILSCO, OSRAM SYLVANIA and Universal Lighting Technologies.
Thank you to associations such as Affiliated Distributors (AD), Electro-Federation Canada (EFC), IMARK Group and the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA).

  • IDEA is supporting AD’s data attribution initiative to support the development of enriched catalog content. This alliance is encouraging manufacturers to fully populate their product information and supply it to the IDW within an accelerated timeframe.  
  • EFC gathers together leaders from distributors and manufacturers to drive the growth of global standardized data. IDEA partnered with EFC to form an IDEA-EFC Committee in support of the Canadian data sourcing efforts. As a result, 18 Canadian manufacturers are part of the IDW Bands of Excellence program, and nine of those companies have achieved the most prestigious Platinum Band.
  • IMARK Group promoted many eBusiness initiatives in the electrical industry to help move the channel forward. IMARK recently recognized IDEA as a Platinum service provider in honor of our contributions to the eBusiness efforts of IMARK members.
  • NEMRA continues to contribute to the industry by providing eBusiness resources to their representative membership and manufacturer affiliates. Most recently, NEMRA shared results from a Mobile Technology Survey conducted among its members.

Innovating to increase productivity and keep the industry relevant

The Data Management Platform (DMP) application was launched to help manufacturers and distributors streamline data sync processes and communicate product data needs throughout the channel. Listen to the “Climbing the EBiz Mountain” podcast series to find out how Cooper Industries and Border States Electric have leveraged the DMP solution>
IDEA introduced iCIMM2, a new web storefront software application that comes pre-populated with IDW product data and integrated with a distributor’s ERP system.
The iConex application was introduced to help companies automate order management with trading partners that aren’t EDI-capable.
The Supply Chain Analytics tool was added to the IDW to empower manufacturers to evaluate the quality of their product data through the eyes of distributors. Users can drill down to pinpoint specific data quality issues, and export the errors to fix the core problem in their business system. 
IDEA and ETIM International announced a collaborative partnership to align eBusiness standards internationally and develop a cross reference between the IDEA Attribute Schema 3.0 and the ETIM Schema 5.0. This partnership will help streamline business processes for companies conducting business internationally. 
The IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) welcomed three new officers in 2012: Ann Jaehn of Thomas & Betts as Chair of the Standards Committee; Jack Schmitz of Border States Electric as Vice Chair of the Data Content & Quality Sub-Committee; and Tom Cull of Hubbell Lighting as Chair of the Product Information Sub-Committee. 

Connecting the electrical eBusiness community

IDEA explored new channels to expand the reach of our communications and launched an industry-inspired webinar series with topics such as: building a strong online presence, data synchronization, automating order management, and conducting EDI with trading partners that aren’t EDI-capable. Watch these webinars at any time by submitting a request for on-demand. New topics coming soon in 2013 include an insider look into the IDW for manufacturers and an exclusive look at our new web storefront software for distributors. 



IDEA produced these videos to explain how IDEA helps electrical manufacturers and distributors in a simple story, and make it easier for you to tell others what IDEA does and why you use our applications. You can send these videos to your trading partners, share on your social networks, and embed them on your websites. 
IDEA hosted the 14th annual IDEA E-Biz Forum in Dallas, TX with over 175 industry eBusiness professionals in attendance. Don’t miss the education and networking opportunities at the only eBusiness conference in the electrical industry from September 25-27th in Orlando, FL at the Hilton Bonnet Creek. 
IDEA shared industry news and eBusiness education through our various online media and participated in tED Magazine Twitter chats. Stay in touch by subscribing to our This Week in IDEA eNewsletter or following us on our Twitter, RSS feed, LinkedIn, YouTube, SlideShare, and Flickr. 

IDEA’s value lies in our unique position to bring together best-in-breed organizations to help improve the overall profitability of the channel and the companies that comprise it. Behind our efforts are people who work everyday on your behalf. This year, we want to congratulate our Star Performers, individuals who have been recognized by their peers for their exemplary contributions to the team: Amanda Kiely, Marketing Manager; Colleen Psomas, Marketing Associate; Edwin Lopez, Customer Service; Robert Gregg, Office Administrator; and Robert Hollands, Data Quality Analyst. In addition, we truly value our strategic partnerships with 1WorldSync, DATAgility, ecMarket, ElectricSmarts, Epicor, IBM and Unilog Content Solutions.

Our mission would also not be possible without the support and advocacy of our founders, NAED and NEMA. We are also thankful to the NAED and NEMA members who have volunteered to be on the IDEA Board of Directors: Steven Sokolow, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Leviton Manufacturing Company; John Burke, President, COO, Kirby Risk; Valerie Jones, Vice-President of Customer Service and Inside Sales, OSRAM SYLVANIA; Wes Smith, President, Mayer Electric Supply; Phil Barrios, Sr. Director, Corporate Marketing and eBusiness, Hubbell, Inc.; Jack Carlson, President, Southwire; Jack Lawson, President and CEO, Electrical Equipment Co.; Vernon Nagel, Chairman, President and CEO, Acuity Brands Inc.; Bob Siegel, Investment and Inventory Management, Graybar; Larry Stern, President and CEO, Standard Electric Supply Co.; Evan Gaddis, President and CEO, NEMA; and Tom Naber, President and CEO, NAED.

We’d love to learn more about your company’s 2012 eBusiness accomplishments. Please share them by adding your comments below, and they may be featured in a future newsletter!