August 10, 2012

Cooper Industries: The 1st Manufacturer to Automate Data Uploads to the IDW

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In the electrical supply chain, contractors and other buyers expect the same shopping experience and availability of information they are familiar with on sites such as Amazon.com®. To meet these demands, distributors require manufacturers to provide them with accurate product and pricing information on a regular basis. Cooper Industries, a diversified global manufacturer of electrical components an­d tools, is the first manufacturer to automate the complete process of sending product data updates to their trading partners through the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). This ensures their product data in the IDW is the most complete and accurate information available.

Cooper completed the process by syncing their SAP system to the Data Management Platform (DMP), which pushes product data through the IDW to their distributors. Cooper calls this automation process a machine-to-machine (M2M) connection as the SAP system and the DMP essentially communicate and work with each other without human intervention. With the elimination of manually inputting data and the resulting human error, a distributor who pulls Cooper’s product and pricing information from the IDW can be confident that the information they share with customers is the same data Cooper has in their business system. Data is accurate and validated straight from the manufacturer — in other words, it’s “Cooper Certified.”

So, how can other manufacturers automate their product data uploads for a more streamlined business process? Cooper shares the path they took to maximize the utility of the IDW and DMP.

1. Internal Preparation

Previously, Cooper divisions had been sending data to the IDW in different ways. With plans to utilize the DMP to provide product information to all their sales channels at one time, they wanted to do it the right way from the start. To prepare the data to be imported into the DMP, Cooper first extracted and consolidated product and pricing information from their business systems.

Cooper had recently migrated all of their divisions to the same SAP system, and they developed custom software for their SAP system to send data to the DMP directly. However, there are a variety of options for any organization. For companies who send information to the IDW via EDI, the information is already in an acceptable format to be loaded into the DMP. IDEA can also provide companies with an XML template to transmit the data, or they can send through any reports in formats such as CSV, EDI and XML.

2. Teaming up with IDEA

Cooper then partnered with IDEA to develop a custom script that would work best for Cooper’s needs and goals. IDEA’s development team worked closely with Cooper in determining how data should appear when extracted, confirming data would match the IDW’s validation rules, and developing an XML format.

Next, Cooper set up their SAP system so that it would send data automatically at the required times to the IDW and any other custom connections through the DMP. IDEA and Cooper then coordinated their development efforts to syndicate the flow of data from the DMP into the IDW, wrapping up the complete implementation of all components.

3. Analyzing the Results

The DMP automation enabled Cooper to share product data with all their sales channels at once which increases the speed-to-market for their products. It also helps support several long-term growth trends, including a current global infrastructure build-out and the growing demand for energy-efficient products. Their customers now receive product data that is consistent across all Cooper divisions.

Moreover, Cooper’s customers can expect accurate data, and more of it, available 24/7. One example of the time savings this type of automation can provide the channel: it took Kirby Risk over 5,000 man hours to source product data for 15,000 items on their website because they had to visit each manufacturer website and scrape it manually. In comparison, now that Cooper has completed setup for this automation project, it only takes them a few minutes to send product data for 15,000 items to the DMP.

“Set-up with the DMP was a ‘one and done’ process. Product information was fully synchronized so that any changes or updates to the data are automatically pushed by the DMP to our trading partners and data pools. And, publishing new product information couldn’t be simpler. With the DMP, our divisions can send the majority of product line items to the IDW with the click of a button. There’s no need to babysit the process and it completely eliminates the inefficiencies of fulfilling one-off requests manually.” — Samer Shehadeh, EDI Manager, Cooper Industries

Read more about Cooper’s efforts in the electroindustry article “Climbing the eBiz Mountain” or listen to the accompanying podcasts>

Join Cooper for their breakout session “The Road to Automation & the DMP” at 3:10 PM on Sept. 26th at the E-Biz Forum>

For more information on implementing the DMP for your company, contact us at dmpinfo@idea-esolutions.com.

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