Co-innovation and the startling genius of swarms

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Have you ever seen a flock of hundreds of starlings change direction suddenly? It seems as if they are flying as a single entity. It’s spectacular. There is something startling about this swarm behavior. The same is true of ants and bees. Think about what these tiny insects can build. They all work in parallel to integrate noisy evidence, weigh competing alternatives, and converge on decisions in synchrony. In this sense, the entities that swarm are able to make decisions by forming a brain of brains that is far more intelligent than any individual contributor (as reasoned in a Cornell University study).

We have similar collaborative ecosystems in the IoT world. Technologies are pervasive, omnipresent, and ever-changing at rapid speeds. How do we address this challenge? At Schneider, we’re leveraging collective intelligence to accelerate innovation. Co-innovation is about responding effectively and fast. But for me, co-innovation is also about being on the cutting edge of emerging tech in such a way that we can have a material, concrete impact with business outcomes, not just “happy science” (or innovation for innovation’s sake).

Accelerating digital transformation

We’ve brought together best-in-class technology players to drive forward advancements in sensing, mobility, cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity with a bespoke focus on helping customers compete in the digital economy instead of simply keeping up. To achieve this, we partner with Microsoft, Accenture, Intel, and Cisco, along with countless startups and universities as well as our customers: system integrators, channel partners, end-users — all of them.

Leveraging Microsoft’s trusted, open and intelligent cloud

For example, we combine Schneider’s domain expertise and operating technology with Microsoft’s trusted, open, and intelligent cloud to help WaterForce, an irrigation and water management company, develop SCADAfarm. Farmers are reporting 50% energy savings in the first season.

Rapidly scaling digital offers with Accenture

Together, we strive to cut the development time to market by 80%, so that customers can drive forward their digital transformation and gain improved efficiency, sustainability, and productivity. As with our Digital Services Factory, we are partnering to create responsive, customer-centric digital solutions such as EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor. Here, teams hive mind share ways to enrich this asset performance management service with advanced analytics for dry transformer thermal monitoring to prevent overheating. See how University of Rochester Medical Center protects its most critical power distribution assets via the cloud for improved safety and uptime.

Boosting grid security with Intel

What good is a smart grid unless it’s a super-secure one? Schneider and Intel have received U.S. Department of Energy funding to research, develop, and commercialize silicon-based cybersecurity solutions for the electrical grid. As with the Schneider Electric microgrid Boston One Campus (BOC) microgrid in partnership with Duke Energy Renewables as a testbed for grid security innovation.

The BOC microgrid leverages connected hardware, software, and cloud-based analytics to optimize the operation and configuration of onsite energy resources, improve asset utilization, and lower costs. The microgrid is expected to generate more than 520,000 kWh of electricity per year.

Agile co-innovation that soars  

Schneider Electric’s ecosystem is composed of hundreds of thousands of customers and partners. The collective intelligence driving this impact is similar to the starling swarm’s. The potential of this group is limitless.

If you ever do a chance upon those spectacular starlings, therefore, observe how quick, agile, and purposeful they are. Now … imagine what our collaborative work within a dynamic ecosystem of best-in-class players will bring. What takes flight along IoT’s horizon promises to be just as spectacular.

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