January 19, 2012

2011 Year in Review

­­In 2011, IDEA aggressively launched a multitude of new initiatives that are increasing the pr­oductivity and impact of eBusiness throughout the electrical channel. As we begin the New Year, we’d like to thank you for helping us innovate in 2011 to position the industry for more growth in 2012.

Moving the Needle with Electrical Product Data

  • In 2011, there was an enormous surge in effort by most manufacturers to provide attributed marketing content to their wholesale distributor customers via the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). The goal to have manufacturers populate all stock SKUs and “A” SKUs – the top priority items that account for the majority of business – with rich marketing content by early summer 2012 is well underway. Manufacturers are approaching this initiative in various ways but all with a singular sense of purpose – to satisfy their customers’ needs.
  • Don’t let your CEO and sales team get caught off guard by customers asking about the status of your product marketing content. If you aren’t sure if your company is populating at least the top four essential marketing elements of Spec sheets, Attributes (as defined in the industry’s Electrical Attribute Schema), Images and Descriptions, please contact your account manager directly or email am@idea-esolutions.com.

Collaboration results in new solutions and industry efforts

  • Released the Electrical Attribute Schema 2.0, expanding coverage to nearly 2,500 product categories, a 64% increase from the inaugural release in October 2009. More expansion to come in this growing field of standardized marketing content.
  • Introduced the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS) as a cost-efficient outsourcing option for manufacturers to populate some or all of their standardized product marketing content into the IDW. IDEA partners with DATAgility to help manufacturers populate marketing content including the attributes defined in the industry’s Electrical Attribute Schema, and we can also help populate other product content such as images if needed. Find out more about the various outsourcing options>
  • Completed the Data Management Platform (DMP) pilot program with Border States Electric, Cooper Industries, Crescent Electric Supply, Leviton, Lutron, and OSRAM SYLVANIA. The DMP enables manufacturers to aggregate, synchronize and communicate product information with all their trading partners through one application. Distributors can use the solution to receive, parse, validate and package the product information they receive from various sources (e.g. IDW, direct from manufacturer) in one location before importing it into their ERP systems and web storefronts. Find out more>
  • Entered into a partnership with ElectricSmarts to help fully synchronize the electrical channel including manufacturers, distributors and end-users. ElectricSmarts will be the exclusive value-added supplier of IDEA data to the contractor/end-user market. Find out more>
  • Added many new enhancements to the IDW including a brand new interface that helps manufacturers prioritize and track data synchronization progress, while adding visibility to their efforts – recognizing those that provide product data updates frequently and populate rich marketing content on those products. For distributors, the new interface provides convenient manufacturer-load summaries and helps track the data synchronization process. Now the product information appears as if it would on a web storefront so you can see the breadth and quality of information available and determine what needs to be added. Explore Version 3.0 using your current IDW username and password>  ­­­Find out more>

Enhancing the electrical eBusiness community­

  • ­Industry trade publications turned to IDEA’s thought-leadership community for insights on the latest trends in B2B eCommerce – over 50 mentions and feature stories in 2011.
  • Over 175 professionals from IDEA’s community convened in St. Louis, MO for the 13th annual IDEA E-Biz Forum. Save the date for the 2012 E-Biz Forum, September 25-27 in Dallas, TX at the Omni Mandalay.
  • We expanded communication channels through social media including the launch of our Twitter and SlideShare pages. Other ways to stay in touch: add our RSS feed, connect via LinkedIn, watch videos on YouTube, and browse photos from events on Flickr.
  • Representatives of Affiliated Distributors (A-D) and their affiliates: Becker Electric, Franklin Empire, and Fromm Electric shared their story of how and why they decided to switch Value-Added Network (VAN) providers. Each company is now using IDEA’s Industry Data Exchange (IDX) for their EDI needs, and the “Switching on the Savings” A-D case study examines their transition to IDX as well as the results from their efforts.

These accomplishments would not be possible without our partners and customers – thank you for another year of significant progress! We also moved to a new office at the end of 2011, so please update your records: IDEA’s New Headquarters | 2900 Crystal Drive | Suite 500 | Arlington, VA 22202.