Bad data continues to plague the electrical industry, costing electrical businesses lost revenue and profits because of incomplete or inaccurate product descriptions, pricing and other information.

The Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA), Rosslyn, Va., estimates data errors cost the industry $1.2 billion annually, and that if electrical businesses synchronized their data properly through the IDW, it could add 1 percent and 0.75 percent to the bottom lines of manufacturers and distributors, respectively.

To help electrical manufacturers and electrical distributors feed more accurate data into its Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), IDEA recently began offering member companies a new tool to clean up their data with the Data Audit and Certification (DAC) program.

Manufacturers that provide product and pricing data directly to IDEA's IDW will have their business data rated against a specification developed by IDEA and Profile Systems, Springfield, Mass., the DAC service provider, along with recommendations from manufacturer and distributor customers.

Each manufacturer will receive a post-audit report that indicates data errors, mismatches, and missing or incomplete fields with instructions and timelines for correcting and updating the data. After the manufacturer makes the necessary corrections to its data, a verification audit will be performed. The manufacturer's data will be certified to Level 1, 2 or 3. Level 3 represents the highest certification rating.

The data audit and certification process will be completed in March and October each year, with the first audit being completed this month. The overall results of each manufacturer's audit will be made public via IDEA's Web site and the IDW administrative Web site.

“Data is the engine that drives today's businesses,” stated Mike Rioux, IDEA president. “Without this program, it has been an uphill battle getting data synchronized. The return on investment for participating in the DAC program exceeds the cost of having their data reviewed by Profile Systems by a factor of 150.”

IDEA decided an audit program was necessary when a 2003 pilot program it sponsored between 10 manufacturers and eight distributors showed only 5 percent of the data matched identically on four of the most basic data elements (UPC, catalog, description, and pricing).