Are You Keeping up with Digitization and Industry 4.0 Across the Industrial Landscape?

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In a recent earnings statement, Netflix announced that its biggest threat is the video game Fortnite. Fortnite has taken much of the world by storm, seemingly emerging from nowhere. Netflix’s announcement surprised many. As tech reviewer John Archer points out in Forbes, “The reason the [statement] stands out so much is that it forces you to abruptly rethink your ideas of competition.”[1] This rethinking is especially true in the age of Industry 4.0.

Having written about the pressing need to cultivate a healthy level of paranoia to know what’s happening outside your traditional industrial boundaries, I personally was more excited than surprised by Netflix’s announcement. In our fast-paced, Industry 4.0 economy, everyone needs to look beyond the periphery to be — and remain — competitive. For system integrators (S.I.s), this means looking out for new tech and trends that affect your ability to design systems on time, on spec, and on budget. Building around digital as new data-centric technologies proliferate quickly across the industrial landscape is essential for maintaining a competitive edge as a trusted advisor.

“What do you do when you see emerging technologies or disruptive trends quickly appearing beyond reach? You cast a network.”

The connective tissue for Industry 4.0 digital innovation

Networks are the connective link for extending your value chain in an asymmetrical marketplace where one-to-one relationships and transactions are no longer enough to meet the demands of Industry 4.0. We had to network with partners across a variety of markets where electrical standards are highly localized very early in Schneider’s history of developing solutions for electrical distribution infrastructure. Today, we have a global network of 20,000+ developers and system integrators and 650,000+ service providers and partners. It may sound like a paradox, but growing this ecosystem enabled us to become more multi-local and close to our end markets wherever we are operating, as our CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire explains in his “extended enterprise” blog.

The next step for us was to enable a “network of networks” that connects digitally someone like a system integrator to technical experts from diverse disciplines to co-create, collaborate, and scale their businesses. Enter Schneider Electric Exchange: the new business platform that provides technology and developer resources, a diverse and global community of experts with a marketplace — all that organized in a user-centric workspace. It is a place to transform and/or grow your business — as operational infrastructure becomes more and more digitized — to create business value from digital sensing and connected devices.

One of the most impressive digital enterprises, Stripe, which provides payment infrastructure for on-line businesses, describes its mission as increasing the GDP of the internet.

“Similarly, we at Schneider Electric understand that our business model is also about growing the GDP of our overall ecosystem, and we want to do so at scale, digitally.”

More specifically, what’s the value of
Schneider Electric Exchange for system integrators on Industry 4.0 projects?

As a system integrator, you often need quick answers to specific technical questions: How do I connect a certain PLC to a certain sensor? Is there a reference design available for this specific project so I don’t have to start from scratch? Schneider Electric Exchange provides the forum for technical experts with domain expertise and a marketplace of digital solutions and the relevant developer environment.

More things can happen, though, when you engage in the ecosystem in another way: looking beyond the typical segment you serve:

  • You can showcase your portfolio in the community space, growing your business with customers looking for S.I.s with certain technical expertise (e.g., OT system integrators who specialize in security at the convergence of IT/OT).
  • Or you can connect with predictive maintenance specialists for Smart Factory projects.

As part of the Schneider Electric Exchange community, Capgemini, for example, offers expertise in Smart Leakage Management, which integrates innovative algorithms and multiple datasets on a versatile, open, and reusable platform. This capability helps water companies detect and pinpoint leaks faster from a mobile device.

Looking at problems through new lenses

There is power in having multiple perspectives. Schneider Electric Exchange lets you address existing energy and process efficiency problems through not just a new lens but actually a number of lenses (data, software, services). Doing so allows you to devise Industry 4.0 solutions in innovative, better, and more competitive ways. How? The customer problem now can be considered from a number of new angles, instead of from just one perspective. A key part of the ecosystem, as our EVP of IoT & Digital Offers Cyril Perducat discusses, startups, for example, offer the perspective of up-to-the-minute innovation.

We sponsor regular Schneider Electric Exchange competitions to push innovation across boundaries. Analytics competitions, for example, are made of a problem to solve and a dataset published on a platform accessible to competitors. Competitors develop algorithms to solve the problem and submit their result. We recognize winners with prize money, and best codes are published in the development corner of Schneider Electric Exchange.

Empowerment is the value of Schneider Electric Exchange in the Industry 4.0 economy. As our CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire explains, empowerment… I’m pleased to announce its official launch this week as we bring together digital innovators and expert system integrators from both within —  and beyond — our traditional boundaries. Join us today 

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