February 9, 2016

Trends to Watch in 2016 – And How IDEA Is Already Responding

As we begin 2016, experts from various fields have offered their forecasts for what’s in store in the coming year, and multiple industries see 2016 as a year ripe with opportunity. At IDEA, we embrace this widespread optimism, but know it must be backed up by strategy, proactive risk management, and a willingness to learn. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the top trends that are expected to have the strongest impact on businesses of all stripes in the year ahead. By staying informed about how these trends develop, you can make the most of 2016 for both your company and your customers.

Trend #1 – Construction Market Is On The Rise

Dodge Data & Analytics – the North American construction industry’s leading data and intelligence provider – predicted continued growth for the construction market in its 2016 report. With employment, spending, and property values on the rise, last year’s increase in commercial construction is expected to carry over into 2016. Furthermore, federal, state, and local governments are reporting plans to increase public construction of schools, highways, and other infrastructure.

What IDEA Is Doing About It:

An upward trend in the construction sector opens up opportunities for both electrical manufacturers and distributors to establish new business partnerships with contractors.

Clean, complete product data is necessary to develop accurate contractor bids. IDEA is working with ElectricSmarts Network in order to make comprehensive, high quality product data available directly to contractors. Through ElectricSmarts’ NetPak service, IDEA’s Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) is able to connect with several major contractor estimating systems, allowing contractors, specifiers, and other players in the electrical industry to plug into the high quality manufacturer-supplied IDW product data. This benefits the contractors, giving them the data needed to win bids, while also helping manufacturers and distributors directly reach the contractors and foster stronger business relationships.

With the construction sector on the rise, the competition is more cutthroat than ever. IDEA is giving our customers the tools they need to succeed, receiving real-time, accurate information in an automated fashion.

Trend #2 – B2B Sales Move Online

Forrester Research Inc., a global research and consulting company, estimated that business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce sales in the U.S. reached $780 billion in 2015. Research and advisory firm Frost & Sullivan projects B2B eCommerce to reach $12 trillion worldwide by 2020. Today, it’s no longer a matter of “if” your company needs a robust eBusiness game plan – it’s a matter of “when” and “how” this plan will be integrated into your business strategy. The move of B2B sales to an online environment is happening.

Today, the various B2B eCommerce initiatives that are actively marketed to customers emphasize how the convenience, ease of-use, and speed of the experience will benefit their operating efficiency and growth prospects.

What IDEA Is Doing About It:

The rise of eCommerce is changing traditional business practices and making competition tougher than ever. If a company is to survive and thrive, it must evolve and embrace electronic business, and the foundation of successful eBusiness is quality data. With a growing number of the electrical industry’s B2B transactions migrating online, the demand for product data that is accurate, comprehensive, and automated is increasing.

As a result of growing competition, the electrical industry’s data needs have grown from simple up-to-date pricing information to the full-scale marketing content necessary for eCommerce websites (e.g., zoomable product images and 3D demo videos). As part of IDEA’s continuous effort to better support the electrical channel’s web sales drive and effectively address the product data needs, we launched our Data Certification Program to measure the breadth, depth, and quality of data available in the IDW and guarantee that the information the users are pulling is as accurate and up-to-date as can be.

Trend #3 – International Trade Shows First Signs Of Recovery

International business is expanding, and organizations are growing and maintaining global operations and international trading partner relationships more easily and efficiently. World Trade Organization economists are predicting a slight increase in the volume of world trade – 2.8% growth in 2014 is expected to reach 4% in 2016. While this growth rate is still fairly slow, economic forecasts anticipate stable GDP growth in both the U.S. and Eurozone, giving reason for optimism that the recovery of international trade will continue and gradually pick up pace.

What IDEA Is Doing About It:

IDEA is working to improve the export competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and distributors, and help companies effectively expand outside of their domestic market. As globalization transforms the way we do business, strategic initiatives that focus on improving our industry’s connectedness across national borders become increasingly necessary.

Although markets may be global, industry standards and regulations remain largely national. These differences cost organizations time and money and interrupt the expansion of international business. In an effort to help harmonize the industry standards, IDEA recently became the first non-European member of ETIM International, an international standardization organization based in Europe. IDEA originally led the development of the UNSPSC®-based Schema to give electrical manufacturers a guide for providing descriptive marketing content to their trading partners throughout the U.S. and Canada. Now, IDEA is beginning a new initiative to align the European electrical product classification system (called the European Technical Information Model) with our North American equivalent – the Schema.

Efforts to bridge the “language” gap between European and North American product data standards will contribute to the success of international business throughout the electrical industry.

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