Industry Data Warehouse To Launch Bold New Look And Capabilities

Feb. 25, 2005
The launch of the IDW2 industry data warehouse (IDW) by April 1 will be one of the biggest milestones in the seven-year history of the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA), Rosslyn, Va.

The launch of the IDW2 industry data warehouse (IDW) by April 1 will be one of the biggest milestones in the seven-year history of the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA), Rosslyn, Va.

It’s a pivotal moment for IDEA. According to Electrical Wholesaling’s cover story this month, approximately 70 electrical distributors and more than 150 manufacturers now use the IDW as a central data repository of standardized supplier product and pricing data.

Launched in 1999, the IDW now contains product data for more than 1.5 million stock-keeping units (SKUs) — an estimated 85 percent of all electrical product SKUs — and is delivering as promised for its earliest devotees. They are getting its well-documented cost savings, reductions in data errors and increases in bottom-line profits. IDEA says IDW delivers distributors an average of $73,000 in profits for every $10 million in sales, and offers manufacturers an additional $97,000 in profits for every $10 million of their sales.

Although few electrical distributors now participate in the IDW, the numbers are deceiving; many IDEA distributors rank high on Electrical Wholesaling’s Top 200 listing. But IDEA’s board wants more users, and they voted for the IDW2 upgrade to propel growth for IDEA.

A big improvement in IDW2, said Mike Rioux, IDEA’s president, is that it will be easier for manufacturers and distributors to teach their business systems to interface with the IDW2. In the past, users often had to have their business system provider customize their software so it would communicate properly with the IDW.

“Instead of trying to force everybody into the same model, we felt it was very important that we were very flexible at the front-end for the manufacturer and the distributor on the back-end,” he said. “For the distributor, instead of getting their software vendor to modify their software to meet our delivery mode, we will modify the end product and create a map for the customer regardless of what software they use.”

Rioux said another huge difference with IDW2 and IDW is that IDW2 is 100 percent Web-based, making data entry easier for manufacturers on the front end of the system, and allowing them and distributors to customize some aspects of the fields and view presented for each product record.

He is excited about IDW2’s ability to provide data certification for distributors, and believes this feature is where IDEA will get “the biggest bang for our buck.”

“Electrical distributors will be able to take their own data and put it through IDW2’s data validation process and get a status report and a validation of their own information,” he said. “When they take their own information out and put it through the system, they will get a report that will measure the quality of their own information. It will help them synchronize their information with vendors much faster.”

Key measures of the success of IDW2 will be how many more distributors sign on, and how many more manufacturers provide “direct data.” With direct data, manufacturers control, update and manage their own product information. Five years ago, only 40 manufacturers were providing direct data; 155 manufacturers now feed data directly into the IDW. Of those 155 companies, 125 firms have their data audited in IDEA’s Data Audit and Certification process (DAC), and some distributor users won’t even download data from the IDW unless it’s DAC-certified.

Rioux said that by year-end he wants 300 manufacturers providing certified data to distributors through IDW2. He also wants at least 150 distributors using the IDW2.