One of the highlights of the IDEA Forum held in Pittsburgh, Sept. 5-6, was the release of a new study that focused on the proven cost savings of the Industry Data and IDX2 Exchange.

Over 150 IDEA supporters attended the meeting, which focused on the latest developments in the electrical industry's IDW, a centralized industry electronic depot developed to eliminate the data errors that often come with manual order entry, and the IDX2, a dependable, low-cost electronic communications network.

A recent survey of members of the Rosslyn, Va.-based IDEA by the Business Information Services (BIS) department of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) produced some findings that would seem to document some proven savings by IDW and IDX2.

In the BIS/NEMA survey, Dr. Brian Kropp, BIS' director, collected data from 30 IDEA manufacturers and 19 IDEA distributors on the cost savings that they have achieved with the IDW and IDX2. Two of the key findings were in the areas of the fixed processing costs per order, and the comparative error rates of the different data format for handling orders. According to the study, the processing cost of handling an order through the IDW was about fifty cents per order, compared to over $2.50 per order, for those handled by paper or fax.

Using the IDW also apparently cut down on order errors for respondents, who said less than 2 percent of the orders they placed through the IDW had errors, while over 10 percent of the orders sent or received by paper or fax had errors.

The respondents also said incorrect pricing was the single biggest type of error in an order, followed by using incorrect catalogs, invalid descriptions and incorrect UPC codes.

For more manufacturers and distributors to take advantage of IDEA's ability to slash data-error rates and cut the costs of handling orders, they will have to stop seeing electronic commerce as a separate discipline in their businesses, said Bob Ciurczak, director of e-commerce, Square D Co., Palatine, Ill.

“It's not e-business anymore,” he said. “It's just business. The ‘e’ will go away.”