I just wish I had reviewed these guys a lot sooner. Schneider Electric has been on my radar for reviewing their platform for some time.
Schneider is in among the leaders in the digital transformation of Energy Management and Automation of homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and a range of industries.
They hold a commanding position in Power Management in Medium and Low voltage, Secure power, in critical power and cooling, grid automation, industrial and building automation and controls and providing discrete automation process systems.
Schneider Electric has been constantly providing integrated efficiency solutions for many years, well before platforms became fashionable.
They are constantly seeking to combine energy, automation, and software. They have adopted a very open ecosystem approach collaborating with partners, integrators and the developer community to build an open platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency
Schneider Electric is not set up as a glamorous company, they provide the essentials; such as boxes, enclosures, protect relays, cabling, control, switchgear, metering, racks, breaker switches. The list goes on and on. They operate in 100 countries and set out to find the most efficient and agile ways to foster innovation.
I get the real impression they have taken innovation to the core of what they do and I often can’t say that for many companies I review – more’s the pity.
They compete with the likes of other global heavyweights like ABB, Siemens, Rockwell, Emerson, and Eaton. They have a global business that breaks down to 28% in North America, 27% in Western Europe, 27% in Asia-Pacific and 18% in the Rest-of-the-World. Present revenue is around 25b Euro’s and employees 144,000 people.
What I wanted to investigate was their approach to delivering IoT solutions that connect, collect and analyze and then, as they drive home “act upon” in real-time. They look at every level of achieving connected products, having “edge” control and providing apps, analytics, and services into their client ecosystem, at every turn. They have embraced mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics and cybersecurity technologies to look towards safety, efficiency, and sustainability.
Schneider Electric’s digital backbone lies in their EcoStruxure platform.
My impression is Schneider Electric do not overly complicate what they offer.
They work on three primary areas of platform focus.
Connected products such as basic “kit” required in our industrial and global world. Breakers, drives, UPSs, relays, sensors all are devices that have embedded intelligence to help in vital decision-making throughout the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.
The second focal area is Edge Control, by controlling devices at the edge of IoT networks is becoming a must, they provide protection in the broader network and deliver better “uptime” by being connected.
The third area of focus is apps, analytics, and services. The magic word of “interoperability” is there to build and support the vast array of hardware and systems; in buildings, data centers, industry and grid-end markets.
EcoStruxure provides a breadth of agnostic applications working to anticipate, know and support, provide analytics and a wide array of services, to make the collaborative effect of having as a seamless enterprise integration as is possible for the delivering to the specific client’s needs.
Their approach to the digital architecture
Through their Digital Architecture, they are working on providing an end-to-end solution that balance shared components within the ecosystem of partners and the agility that comes with their domain-specific expertise. They have been constantly architecting at scale for data connection, person connection and aggregation. The focus, which I like, is all about integrating the asset (device) and customer identity in their unique needs and situations. The offering of the cloud to the edge as the end-to-end need, to leverage the services onto the product, fully and effectively. They regard this as their “connectivity value.”
I can clearly see for them to get to this point they have made a considerable investment in R&D. I saw they have 17,000 patents in their portfolio, they seem to be filing a constant 1,000-odd a year, new patents being filed. They have somewhere upwards of 8,000 R&D engineers, including over 2,000 software engineers. They presently are investing about 5% of sales into R&D. They work with a range of system integrator partners to deliver the platform and the solutions “that sit” on the platform or within the products they offer. This is what delivers much of the connectivity value, within a network of partners.
It is where innovation figures strongly in how they approach this
The language of innovation comes across in what I read and researched. They understand that the shift is from products to customer outcomes and it is through digitization and consuming that information is critical, so as then to turn into actionable outcomes based on product and services. With customers not just wanting to buy software, they are wanting today, to subscribe to those that offer solutions, such as software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, security-as-a-service etc.etc. This requires a very needed trusted partnership and deeper relationship that builds constantly in the exchanges, collaborations, and joint solution seeking.
They have moved from selling the part into guaranteeing the better outcome. The underlying story of the value of connected products, platforms, IoT, digitization, and ecosystems combining.
I “lifted” this visual of their innovation principles as they are worth sharing.
Again, it seems they are very proactive in their anticipation and investment horizons
They have embraced the three horizon method, in drawing out different voices, which I totally subscribe too, in looking at new insights and managing existing core by balancing this with breaking technologies.They work the 3H for searching for desired outcomes and track, track and track, all things emerging if it is important to their “seen” future or might be disruptive or ground-breaking for changes.
The other aspect that comes clearly into view is the recognition of the whole value of operating on a platform solution enables the leveraging of people, insights, and data. This ‘forms and informs’ to help in making not just the present but also the future. If you can imagine the sheer level of activity a global organization needs to coordinate, having a common platform you can apply learnings once (hopefully) and work on ten new solutions or applications, reflecting the diversity of industry need or technology application.
In one document I read on Schneider’s website they are giving data a voice and the key is listening to that voice.
This is why a platform has become so critical today, it connects clients, partners, customers, technicians, researchers, and management for more informed decision-making. You innovate with efficiency and agility.
I liked also the thought they track outside their industry peers. They see products have moved from being 100% hardware to a somewhat changed value proposition of 60% hardware and 40% software. They look to borrow concepts from the global software R&D into their products and solutions by using lean and agile approaches by building minimal viable products and test these with key customers. The learning then comes back into the next design of the product, partly by doing software upgrades, .looking for speed and agility to push these out into the field, on-site and in new versions.
I was reading about their oil and gas customers. A very tough business at the best of time, more so in today’s market conditions. They see “augmented solutions” in speed and responsiveness, delivering durability and endurance and achieving greater control through greater ‘on devise’ visibility and strategy for mission-critical events to make essential decisions to optimize and minimize downtime.
So Schneider has taken to heart the ‘holistic’ message of connected intelligence, working on speed and agility, building in durability and endurance into what they provide, along with a high level of visibility and clarity does seem to give them their ongoing competitive edge. Of course, they expect and try to anticipate next-generation automation advancements in what they do and anticipate, but it is the ongoing recognition of working through a platform and connecting into the ecosystem, fully collaborating, does certainly seem to have given them a formidable positioning for themselves. One for the connected future, based on platform and ecosystem management.
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