Most digital innovation startups know there’s a lot of groundwork needed to move a great idea to commercialization. Think about Apple’s or Microsoft’s origin stories: the long hours in a garage and an almost obsessive commitment to pushing toward a breakthrough. There’s a common innovative spirit involved and many leaps of faith into the unknown.
That’s the same feeling I had when I moved to China in 2001 to build a new business from scratch. With no location, licenses, or employees, I headed there with just a business plan, the committed investment from Schneider Electric, and my phone to pull together the right people, resources, and regulatory requirements to make it happen. Keep in mind that this was 12 years before China’s “Made in China 2025” policy went into effect to push advanced manufacturing and homegrown innovation, and the Internet was not a widespread thing yet. Not to mention that the roads in Suzhou Industrial Park were just being built. In other words, nothing was easy despite my strong commitment.
This experience brings me to today.
“Now, with digital, any tech entrepreneur can drive their vision much more seamlessly than ever.”
Having experienced the “before and after” of what it takes to build out an idea from the ground up, I am proud to announce the launch of Schneider Electric Exchange: a collaborative workspace, technology resource, and marketplace all at the same time. It is a digital platform that brings together a community of problem solvers to tackle specific business challenges in a much more frictionless way than we could have imagined just a decade ago.
Creating solutions to solve relevant business problems
Schneider Electric Exchange rewrites digital innovation’s playbook by re-centering technology development, software iteration, and R&D on customer problems instead of simply building better technology. To achieve this customer-centric mind shift, you need access to technical resources and tools to build and deploy digital solutions easily, while also managing data.
For example, the company Aquassay improves the water efficiency of industrial sites by carrying out diagnostics and dynamic mapping of water uses. To optimize its solutions, it needed real-time prediction capabilities. Schneider Electric Exchange provided digital access to these trusted, reviewed tools and resources, linking Aquassay with the AI-as-a-service company Dataswati.
Quick access to technical expertise is everything (e.g., especially if you’re a system integrator as our Chief Digital Officer Hervé Coureil explains). When I built the manufacturing business in Suzhou, I had no access to architectural reference designs, or even an architecture, to speed up the process. I ended up designing the factory myself. As you deal with more technical complexities, you can leverage resources to push your innovation without losing the essential element of trust. You can find add-on components published on the Schneider Electric Exchange platform, such as analytics packages to add to software solutions or published analytics components based on actual context and challenges.
Connecting to trusted people, tools, and resources
The pace of tech and market trends is just too fast for any one player to cover the full spectrum needed to build a scalable solution. Knowing this, we built Schneider Electric Exchange as a diverse, global ecosystem of communities that bring together experts and innovators from across industry, software, and startups, empowering them to solve very specific business challenges.
“One platform with the infinite possibilities of an open, global, innovative community.”
In the dinosaur days of digital, you had to rely on a lot of old-school networking, running around, and hope that you made the best gut decisions. When I chose one of three possible people as a test equipment supplier, I went with the person who had an honest way about him. There was nothing scientific about it. We know that this approach just won’t work today, especially with the complexities we’re dealing with when developing digital solutions and the critical importance of establishing and maintaining the trusted relationships that inherently define industrial value chains. As you bring new players to your project, Schneider Electric Exchange eliminates a lot of this logistical groundwork and guesswork.
Scaling solutions for the digital economy
For young tech companies, scale may be the biggest nemesis. You can create a great proof of concept, but if you can’t scale it across geographies and specific use cases, then the numbers are not necessarily working in your favor. About 74% of startups don’t make it for this reason (Startup Genome Report). Schneider Electric Exchange therefore is also a marketplace to fuel your business.
The company PEPITe, for example, provides cutting-edge cloud-based machine learning software for real-time process and energy efficiency in industries such as mining, minerals & metals. Part of the overall operational efficiency, the AI model used by PEPITe provides asset health monitoring and usage optimization. PEPITe is providing its solution on Schneider Electric Exchange with its DATAmaestro platform (Software as a Service) and service consultancy on data audit.
The new way toward digital innovation
The state of innovation has reached a turning point — from depending on a disconnected, traditional, one-to-many transactional value chain to a many-to-many digital highway to solve known business problems. Right now, for example, we have launched a data science competition to tackle specific business challenges. Tech companies and data science specialists can work together to develop solutions. Positive Energy Ltd., for instance, won a new energy business model challenge with its innovative renewable energy finance platform.
Schneider Electric Exchange is the junction that empowers a global ecosystem’s bold ideas to create, collaborate, and scale our shared digital future and seize new value. Join us to make the right turn.