The Evolving Role of Partners in the All-New Electric / Digital World

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I recently participated in a unique partner webinar initiative, to discuss various industry trends, with a particular focus on our partners in the ‘new normal.’ In the panel, which included Anil Chaudhary, Managing Director and Zone President, Greater India, and Shrinivas CHEBBI, President Power Products, India, we expressed our thoughts on various prominent trends and scenarios in this new COVID era. We shared valuable insights from across the industry.

Rethinking how we drive growth

If we look at the current global landscape, we can see that the COVID-19 pandemic is moving in stages, with countries and regions facing a variety of challenges of a diverse scale and severity at each stage. As a result, over the past few months, many states have responded with strict lockdowns.

Based on this situation, companies and partners can jointly respond to these emerging challenges in stages. At a time when companies are prioritizing revenue opportunities to ensure business revival or survival, it is vital to identify the primary revenue sources and to initiate the “now or never” moves that will drive change.

Given this scenario, flexibility and agility are the two crucial factors that will decide if and how businesses survive and even thrive. While responding to the COVID crisis, by supporting customers who had shifted to remote working, we learned that the supply chain process and the concept of ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) could not work anymore. Now is the time to reorient and re-strategize our existing supply chain models and to strengthen our preparedness for extending support to customers when needed. In recent months, the business environment has changed rapidly. Businesses have worked faster and better than what seemed possible just a few months ago. The acceptance of new methods has increased, supporting active and quick problem-solving. This new attitude has enabled a more rapid response and robust and effective support for customers.

We are busy working on the first wave of ‘collaboration and mobility’ for our partner ecosystem, and new measures are being undertaken to ensure we are ready to mitigate the risks and make informed choices during this unprecedented time.

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A winning strategy

According to the consulting firm, McKinsey, Indian businesses are in a phase of massive innovation amidst the current crisis.  India’s ‘in-and-out’ lockdown journey has happened at an unmatched and unparalleled scale. For a market as diverse as India’s, it is imperative that we identify winning strategies based on our own experiences and business instincts.

With traditional and primary modes of communication disrupted, technology and digitization have been game-changing tools, helping us to stay connected to our customers and stakeholders. Digital technology has ensured operational continuity, and it will play a significant role in the rebound phase for all Indian businesses. Leveraging technology and digitization across all sectors is critical to strengthening digital skilling and adaptability. We need to be prepared for this transformation, as new styles of working emerge.

The government is focusing strongly on self-sufficiency. Programs like ‘Make in India’ are already making an impact. What’s more, many of the growth areas identified by the government are primary focus areas for Schneider Electric as well. Thus, we intend to leverage our strengths in these areas and to be an ‘early mover’ in this respect. Our business revival will support national economic revival, and in this way, we intend to make up for the losses incurred so far by early 2021.

Supporting partners and driving the digital transformation

Our partners and our customers are a top priority. Hence, we are supporting our partners at scale, to enable new market penetration, providing access to new segments, and offering support in various regions across the world.

As a responsible corporate entity, we have contributed to the PM CARES Fund and are supporting our ecosystem of 10,000 electricians with direct cash transfers.  We have also provided a number of hospitals in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh with uninterruptible power supply units, to ensure that they have constant access to power. Now, with large segments of the economy moving out of lockdown at a brisk pace, the government has indicated that it is focusing on getting back to the normal conduct of business at the earliest opportunity.

At Schneider Electric, we are accelerating our businesses, and it goes without saying, that the health, safety, and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority. All government and healthcare guidelines are being strictly adhered to, to mitigate any potential health risk to our partner ecosystem. We have also created a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) handbook, which is available for ready reference. Our commercial offices have begun reopening across the country, along with 23 manufacturing units and distribution centers, which are back to running at full functionality.

A strong partner ecosystem

It is important to stress that we have an extremely strong alliance with our partners and customers. And, in this COVID-19 era, it will be through agility and flexibility, that we achieve joint business success. What’s more, our sustainability will be defined by speed, efficiency, and digitalization. And finally, having learned from best practices across the globe, we see that our ability to drive business in the virtual world will ultimately determine our success.

We intend to see our current challenges as a unique opportunity – to create new business models and to develop efficient new ways of doing business. Now is also the right time to rejig our revenue streams, as digitization transforms our businesses. We are extremely proud of the resilience shown by our companies, partners, and customers during this unprecedented period. Now, as the market unlocks and the economy picks up momentum, we are geared for a strong comeback.

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