March 31, 2015

tED Magazine – Progress Requires Change

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Progress requires change

Progress Requires Change 

Big changes in 2014 set the stage for a Data Certification Program that will guide IDEA’s focus through the new year 

In November, IDEA’s board of directors named Paul Molitor, who most recently served as NEMA’s assistant vice president of strategy and policy, as CEO and president. His position became effective Dec.15-and signaled the end of a year of significant leadership changes at the association. This month, Molitor answers the question: Where should we expect to see IDEA and the IDW at the end of 2015? 

IDEA’s Data Certification Program will guide the association’s focus through 2015. Designed to measure the completeness of quality of the data available within the IDW at the item level, the program focuses on 43 critical data fields in the IDW, representing sets of transactional and descriptive product information needed by distributors to conduct business and sell manufacturers’ products (e.g. brand, packaging, price effective date, etc.). 

Within the program, all stock, quick-ship, and nonstock items in the IDW are measured against two metrics. The “Compliance” metric measures completeness and identifies an item as “compliant” if each of its 43 critical fields is fully populated. Once an item is compliant, the content within its 43 critical fields is subjected to two quarterly quality checks within the “Excellence” metric. First, at the item level, the data is held to industry standards and IDEA best practices in a programmatic quality check. Then, a representative sample of items that pass the programmatic check undergo a visual quality check conducted by IDEA’s data quality specialists. 

As distributors grow more sophisticated, whether through systems automation or web store development, accurate and high-quality data is no longer a “nice to have”; it has become a necessity to operate effectively and efficiently. The Data Certification Program metrics provide distributors with more feedback when working with manufacturers’ information in the IDW, allowing them to better manage the product information they use in promoting products in their web stores and marketing materials. 

In addition, manufacturers providing this complete, accurate data will gain greater visibility through the supply chain down to the contractor level and become the suppliers of choice when final orders are placed. Together, manufacturers and distributors can improve productivity and increase sales. 

Support from IDEA 

Data certification will be an ongoing process for all manufacturers. As of Feb.1, any new item added to the IDW must be compliant, with all of its 43 critical fields fully populated; otherwise, the item will be designated as “noncompliant” and will be accessible only via a separate distributor download. By October, all existing active items in the IDW must have each of the 43 critical fields fully populated. 

Understanding the challenge this presents, IDEA is prepared to work with manufacturers to achieve success. For example, IDEA’s data management specialists will provide manufacturers with actionable reports based on the compliance and excellence metrics. These reports – plus a set of analytics, data quality reporting, and IDW training tools – will then allow manufacturers to more autonomously monitor their own progress and ensure the quality and completeness of their data at the source. If manufacturers are struggling to complete the data on their own, IDEA has also partnered with third-party DATAgility to facilitate data management for the 43 critical fields. 

(As of Feb 1, 45 manufacturers have committed to reaching 100% compliance for all of their active items by October – and some have already reached 100% Compliance.) 

IDEA is also rebuilding its Industry Standards Committee to streamline standards development and focus on timeliness. Updates to data standards will be released on a calendar-year basis and will coincide with other relevant industry standards (e.g., barcodes, product codes, etc.). Distributors and manufacturers alike will be able to better plan to provide the support needed for programming. Additionally, it will become easier to enforce standards and deliver greater uniformity of product data in less time. 

As George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Progress is impossible without change.” And 2014 was a year of change at IDEA, from responding to the ever-evolving data needs of the electrical industry to executive – and board-level leadership transitions. Building on the changes, IDEA has entered 2015 with clear eyes and a sharp focus.