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What The New IDEA Data Certification Program Really Means For You

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine


Re-reading recent stories posted at www.tedmag.com got me thinking about the “IDEA Announces Expansion To Industry Data Warehouse Standard” story we posted back on October 2, 2014.  You can find the original story here.

One of the key sentences in the story is this: “IDEA’s management and Board of Directors have mandated the population of a set of 43 critical data fields that distributors have identified as necessary to conduct business today.”  Currently, manufacturers are not required to fill nearly that many.  One concern is if filling out the additional fields will take more time than manufacturers are willing to spend on the data warehouse.  I asked the vice president of operations for IDEA Mike Wentz if the data for each product can be loaded in less than 15 minutes.

“Probably, if the manufacturer has the data well organized,” Wentz told me. “If they have to ‘walk around’ and collect it, they may need more time. The key is that the data now being required by distributors is reasonable and most manufacturers have said – available.”

The tED magazine story goes on to report that IDEA has started a new Data Certification Program, which will evaluate a manufacturer’s data for quantity and quality.  But who will get those results?

“We are building the dashboards now, but subscribing distributors will have access to item level reporting for lines that they are authorized to see,” Wentz said. “We will also publish overall totals for each manufacturer so the industry will have visibility on the percent of total items – how complete is each manufacturer in the IDW.”

And the third item from that story that is essential is a hard deadline for getting data into the data warehouse.  Effective February 1, 2015, all new items added to the IDW must have the 43 critical fields populated, while items already in the IDW have until October 1, 2015 to get the data loaded.  Wentz told me these are realistic goals that should be met.

“Education and then the scorecards should influence the manufacturers. Ultimately, the distributors have to carry the stick if their key suppliers are not complying with the mandate,” Wentz said.  He added that he is aware that loading the data for existing products could prove to be more difficult for manufacturers. How important is the expanded data?  I spoke with DataGility President Denise Keating about the need back in May about the threat AmazonSupply has created for our distribution channel.  Amazon has thousands of employees creating data for their more than 2.25 million products on their AmazonSupply website.  Keating says that is why it is critical for distributors to have access to “robust” data from manufacturers.

“The data divide is also evident in the lack of understanding of how to leverage data as a competitive advantage – to help cope with the data source issues, apply their exact data requirements, and learn how to ‘personalize’ and web-enable their product offering,” Keating says.  “Millennials make up 1/3 of the workforce today, and they are digital natives ( i.e. expect to do business on line just as they do today in their personal lives) and that number is only going to grow while at the same time the baby boomers are going to diminish (not decease but rather leave the work force) with every passing day.  If distributors don’t plan for the new generation today, there will not be a place for them in the future tomorrow. Amazon isn’t the only threat to the distribution channel — companies such as Ace Hardware and Staples are now offering products that were sold typically through ‘traditional’ distribution. Home Depot estimates that 30% of their business comes from the professional contractor.”

The new IDEA board has sent a strong message about data warehousing and an action plan for the future.

“You bet,” Wentz told me. “Just the deadline alone for new items sets a new tone.”

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