Q&A with ISC Subcommittee Members: Why Standards Matter

Recently, IDEA hosted its Industry Standards Committee (ISC) subcommittee meetings at its headquarters, located in Arlington, VA. At the second meeting since the restructuring of the ISC, the team was entrenched in developing and updating data and eCommerce standards and guidelines. We took some time to speak with three representatives from the committee to learn why they joined, and why they think standards are essential to our industry.

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Crystal Bare

Company: Van Meter, Inc.
Subcommittee: Data Content and Quality

Why did you decide to join IDEA's Industry Standards Committee?

When I started at Van Meter, Joe Wallace was the only person representing Van Meter on the ISC. Since he was moving into a different role, he suggested that Donna Sweet and I start attending. Being completely new to the data, pricing, and electrical world, I have learned a lot about the pieces of information we have access to and may not know about. In addition, being part of this group has helped build relationships with manufacturers and distributors in the industry.

What does your subcommittee focus on? What kind of work does it complete?

The Data Content and Quality (DCQ) subcommittee focuses on just that. We are working on generating standards around the data provided by our manufacturers. Requests come in from distributors, as well as manufacturers, in regards to data they would like to see or provide. 

Honestly, this subcommittee usually has a list a mile long! When a request comes in, our committee discusses it, makes sure it’s something we should create a standard around, makes sure there isn’t already a spot where the data is already stored, or can be stored, and then figures out how we can accommodate the request.

Recently, we have worked on providing a place for minimum advertised prices (MAP or IMAP) to be loaded by the manufacturers, a status code for mature products, and a flag so distributors know that the image provided is a representative image.

What do you hope your subcommittee can accomplish over the next year? 

Our list of open items is quite long, so, I’m just excited about the new structure to the committees and the new tool (KAVI Workspace) we are using to keep all the information together. I think, with the changes, it will be easier for new members to be brought up to speed quickly.            

Why do you believe that standards are important to the industry/channel?

I think they are important for consistency. As a distributor, we have hundreds of manufacturers’ data that we load in our system, and having the data in a consistent format makes loading it in our system much easier and more efficient. In addition, it helps our customers find the products they need when they need them.


Barbara Spadaro
Company: Bridgeport Fittings
Subcommittee: Product Identification Committee

What made you decide to join IDEA's Industry Standards Committee?

In 2012, I attended my first eBiz Forum, which was very informative. I decided, as the Electronic Data person for our company, I needed to understand a little bit better what the IDW was and what I needed to do to provide the best data for our distributors. I attended all three subcommittees my first two years and found the Product Information and Data Quality committees were most helpful for me. In addition to building great relationships with our other committee members, participating in these committees gave me a clearer understanding of how our data is used and why it is important to have accurate data.  

What does your subcommittee focus on? What kind of work does it complete?

The Product Information (PI) subcommittee focuses on product identification, attributing data, and reviewing UNSPSCs. As a group, we work together to  implement requests for additions or changes that are submitted to the committee for review. A few examples of these requests are changes to attributes in the Schema or to granularize a UNSPSC. 

Why do you believe that standards are important to the industry/channel?

Consistency! As a manufacturer, it makes it much easier to provide accurate data for our distributors if we are all following the same standards.


Rich Radziwon
Company: Kendall Electric
Subcommittee: Data Content and Quality; Product Information

What made you decide to join IDEA's Industry Standards Committee?

At Kendall Electric, we have had an eCommerce site for over 10 years, but we realized that the data was either inaccurate or the structure of the data was different from everyone we were receiving it from. So, becoming part of the standards committee at least gives us a voice to say: we know what’s coming, and we understand what the manufacturers are going through. It gives us a better opportunity to get ready for the data and to handle the data as it comes in from one source, which is the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW).

What does your subcommittee focus on? What kind of work does it complete?

My main focus is on the DCQ and the PI subcommittees. We watch the attributes and the data, how the structure gets put together, the UNSPSCs - just trying to keep my hands involved with that and making sure that the codes and attributes are correct.

What do you hope your subcommittee can accomplish over the next year? 

I hope we can achieve some consistency and the ability to make [complying with standards] easier for the manufacturers. As a distributor, the more accurate the data, the better we are, the better our customers are, as well as our inside sales folks. But, at the same time, if it’s not easy for the manufacturers to [load data into the IDW], then it just doesn’t get there, and we don’t get the data. So, that‘s what I would hope to get: an easier process for the manufacturers to load the data.

Why do you believe that standards are important to the industry/channel?

Standards give everybody an even platform: the manufacturers know what’s expected of them, and the distributors know what they can get. Overall, standards make it easier for everyone to understand what’s needed and what they can get.