January 8, 2016

electroindustry Magazine – What an IDEA!

Download the PDF version of this article


IDEA was formed in 1998 as the joint venture of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), created to establish industry standards to facilitate eCommerce and solve problems in the electrical supply chain. A year later, both of IDEA’s primary applications – the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) and Industry Data Exchange (IDX) – became operational, supporting the exchange of product data and business information between manufacturers and distributors of all sizes in the electrical industry.

To fully equip IDEA to serve this industry, NEMA and NAED turned over ownership and management of the Industry Standards Committee (ISC) to IDEA in 2001. This committee became responsible for publishing industry-approved templates, guidelines, and white papers to streamline trading partner communication.


As this industry has evolved over the years, so have IDEA’s applications, services, and tools, enabling IDEA to better respond to the ever-changing business and data needs of hundreds of electrical manufacturers and distributors.

The IDX enables users to automate business processes from quote to cash with flexible electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions. IDEA continues to build up its offerings of value-add tools and services surrounding the IDX to increase efficiency and return on investment.

The IDW has also grown, hosting more than 2.5 million products, more than half of which are complete and fully attributed. Through the IDW, distributors can now easily access the data of more than 2,000 manufacturer brands. Manufacturers can reach more than 4,500 distributor branches, and can access significant contractor business, all while publishing their product and pricing data just one time. In 2015, NEMA renewed its endorsement of the IDW as the sole preferred source for member companies’ product information.

Since its inception, IDEA has worked toward becoming a single source of complete, high quality data, delivered efficiently and cost-effectively. Today, with the help of industry initiatives (e.g., IDEA’s Data Certification Program) and continued support from NEMA, NAED, and engaged manufacturers and distributors, IDEA continues to make progress toward achieving this goal.

Posted in ,