December 1, 2011

3 Ways to Reach Your Data Attribution Goals

As a manufacturer, your trading partners require attributed data to successfully market your products. However, what is the best way to handle the data attribution process? Before you jump in, you must know your goals, and make sure they’re SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-specific. For example, many manufacturers have set a goal to populate the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) with the most-requested marketing content (listed below) for all their high–priority (“A”) SKUs by the end of this year, with the remaining stocking SKUs to be completed by mid-2012. ­

  1. Spec sheets (or catalog page) – customers want to know the product specifications
  2. Attributes (as defined in the UNSPSC-based Electrical Attribute Sc­hema) – customers want to search products
  3. Images – customers want to see it
  4. Description (catalog/long description) – customers want to know what it is

Once you’ve defined your SMART goal, it’s time to decide how to execute. IDEA offers various service options through the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS), including full–service and continuous service models for those who need it. The AFS is an outsourced solution that helps manufacturers populate standardized product marketing content into the IDW faster and more cost-efficiently. Here are three common scenarios to help you decide the best way to complete your data attribution efforts:


This is a one-time project in which IDEA works with the manufacturer to determine the project scope, and then populates attributes for the product SKUs defined in that scope. Once the attributes are populated and approved by the manufacturer, IDEA provides the tools and education necessary for the manufacturer to maintain the data attribution process. The manufacturer has approximately 30% involvement in the full-service model – they select, provide and approve the product data to ensure accuracy, while IDEA translates it into a consistent format that is compatible with global and industry standards. This is the option most manufacturers prefer.

Who Could Use It?

  • Manufacturers with multiple disparate systems of product data, perhaps because of branches, acquisitions and divisions.
  • Manufacturers that are under pressure to meet trading partner mandates or that are looking to jumpstart their data attribution efforts.
  • Manufacturers that have resource constraints.­­


  • Get a head start in meeting down-stream demand and mandates set by trading partners and the industry (NEMA/NAED members).
  • Leverage the expertise of data synchronization consultants to reduce the learning curve and obtain help with prioritization (data synchronization consultants will break-down and simplify what could be perceived as a daunting task).
  • Be confident that your product attributes are following industry and global standards.
  • Potentially populate marketing content in the IDW in less than half the time and at one-third the price compared to using internal resources.
  • Be involved in the decision-making process and approve all of the product information used.
  • Once the project is complete, you have a sustainable process in place to maintain it.
  • Once the designated product SKUs are fully attributed and the service is complete, the project could lose momentum or be reprioritized, resulting in poorly-maintained data.
  • Some dependence on an outside consultant and less understanding of the attribution process internally.
  • There are up-front costs for the full–service model, and the revenue gain is more long-term. ­

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Continuing Service

Once a full–service project is completed, a manufacturer may choose to have IDEA continue to populate attributed data for any new product SKUs, in other words, continuously maintain and update their marketing content. Choosing this service level allows manufacturers to keep necessary involvement to 5-10%.

Who Could Use It?

  • Manufacturers that want to concentrate on other priorities.
  • Manufacturers that have little to no knowledge of the data attribution process.


  • Very few internal resources need to be allocated to this on-going project. Once you work with IDEA to set-up the process, your involvement can be minimal.
  • Leverage the expertise of data synchronization consultants to ensure that data attribution efforts are successful and meet global/industry standards.
  • No need to dedicate staff to maintain the data attribution process – allowing your team to focus on other projects.
  • Dependence on an outside consultant and minimal understanding of the attribution process internally.
  • Less control and flexibility with making changes to your product information.


A manufacturer dedicates internal staff and resources to creating, implementing, and maintaining their data attribution efforts. The manufacturer is 100% involved in all aspects of the project, including gathering, formatting, and populating their product marketing content in the IDW.

Who Could Use It?

  • Manufacturers that have fully–integrated ERP systems with all their product information in one location.
  • Manufacturers that have the internal resources and a full-time staff to devote to their data attribution efforts.


  • You know your business better than anyone, and can determine the best ways to differentiate your products.
  • Flexibility to manage the project according to a timeline that can accommodate the needs and resources of your company.
  • Develop a stronger proficiency and understanding of the Electrical Attribute Schema and the data synchronization process through first-hand experience.
  • Intensive expenditures on the resources and time demanded by the project in addition to potential hidden costs.
  • Staff may need to be redeployed to manage the project at the expense of other responsibilities.
  • Competing internal priorities could delay completion of the project.
  • No outside-in perspective on your data attribution efforts. (Your company may make mistakes or miss opportunities to differentiate because you’re too close to the project).
  • In-house processes could lead to isolation and a departure from industry standards. (Trading partners may be forced to reformat the data if produced in non-standard formats).

­IDEA partners with DATAgility to provide the Attribute Fulfillment Service (AFS). Find out more on the AFS product webpage. ­