The long journey of the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) took an interesting new turn last week when Robert Reynolds, chairman, president and CEO of Graybar Electric Co., took the podium at the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) Annual Meeting and urged manufacturers and other distributors to support the IDW.
At the NAED Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 13, Reynolds announced Graybar's plan to fully utilize the IDW and to become “much more directly involved in the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA),” Rosslyn, Va.
“We have recently committed to get our back office in order,” he said. “We have begun a project to convert our home-grown systems to SAP and we are going to ensure that our data, the foundation of our ability to be successful, is also in order. Our plan is to begin using the IDW data in our new ERP system as we begin deploying early in 2003.
“In preparation for that deployment we will begin to actively analyze the data and will begin providing feedback to our manufacturers on issues or concerns we may have. We will expect our manufacturers to work with the IDW and with us as we move forward with this initiative. Over time, Graybar would expect to use the IDW to also support our catalog efforts thereby further driving down our costs of doing business.”
Reynolds said the IDW, a central database of electrical manufacturer-owned and controlled product and price information, can reduce costs, increase channel efficiencies and bring the industry together to achieve cleaner product and price data. He added that Graybar's customers want to cut their cost of doing business, and that the IDW can help his company do that.
“You may wonder why I am expounding on the benefits of IDEA participation,” said Reynolds. “Graybar is being asked by our customers to decrease the cost of doing business. We, in turn, are expecting the same from our manufacturers. Product and price maintenance today is extremely expensive. We must find a way to decrease this cost or risk losing business to our competitors. In addition, the increased visibility of the downstream supply chain mandates that we have product and price data that we can rely on. We cannot afford to lose our customers' confidence,” he said.
Although Graybar made a commitment several years ago as a founding member of the IDEA to support the industry initiative, Reynolds said the company has participated at an arms length, particularly as it relates to the IDW.
“We understand that there are concerns with the data warehouse. Many of these are due to the lack of manufacturer commitment to keep the data in the warehouse up to date. This lack of commitment has been directly related to the lack of commitment by the distributors to use the data.”
This isn't the first time that Graybar used its clout to urge manufacturers to use industry standard electronic formats for pricing and product information. In the mid-1990s, Graybar asked its manufacturers to utilize industry standards for EDI and vendor-managed information (VMI).