After 25 years in industry, working for Siemens and Airbus, Peter Weckesser joined Schneider Electric two years ago to make a difference. Today, as the company’s Chief Digital Officer and a Member of its Executive Committee, Weckesser is perfectly placed to drive a technology agenda aimed at helping Schneider—which provides energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability—and its customers accelerate their digital transformation.
"Today, about 60% of the energy that's produced and consumed is not used in an efficient way and this is really where sustainability and digital connect and can help,” says Weckesser. “We are working on creating full transparency around energy supply, energy demand and consumption, for both ourselves and our customers."
Weckesser hopes that, as the world becomes more electric and digitally focused, the data needed to optimize energy demand—and ultimately reduce needless emissions—will be everywhere and accessible.
We sat down with the Chief Digital Officer to find out how he is putting his deep industry experience into practice at Schneider Electric to accelerate customer sustainability transformations, scale purposeful artificial intelligence, and put the customer in the driving seat with the company’s IoT platform, EcoStruxure.
Accenture: How do you see digital enabling and accelerating the sustainability revolution?
Peter Weckesser: Sustainability is on everybody's mind today. And it’s part of the Schneider Electric strategy, which is built on three key pillars:
- Electrification. It doesn't take a lot to convince people that everything—from buildings to mobility—must become more electrical, and this is our core business.
- Sustainability. Schneider Electric embarked on a sustainability journey 15 years ago when we created our first sustainability reporting program. This has been updated several times and we are very serious about our own sustainability journey and helping our customers on theirs.
- Digital. The three pillars are extremely closely connected. Only what gets measured can be managed and so this is how sustainability and digital are closely connected. Digital is the means of creating full transparency into energy consumption and energy demand. By creating transparency around where energy gets consumed and a forecast for that, we can balance demand and supply.
Accenture: You recently appointed a Chief AI Officer, demonstrating that Schneider Electric is willing to invest and scale its Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. How important is AI to what Schneider Electric is trying to achieve?
PW: We believe that AI has the capability to fundamentally impact the dimensions that are important to Schneider Electric—optimizing our internal processes and our external value proposition. The role of the AI organization is to drive AI innovation at scale and create a center of competence within Schneider Electric. It will provide AI technologies to all our lines of businesses and our functions, to help them create and execute AI business cases. Data is another area that we need to focus on to be able to use AI at scale. We are working to reduce the need for data pipelining and data integration for every AI project that we run. The ambition is that an AI team—and an AI project—finds a data platform and that the access to data is commoditized and trusted with best-in-class levels of security.
Accenture: How is Schneider Digital contributing to the company’s evolving strategy?
PW: We need to think more in ecosystems in the future and in open platforms, which are clearly at the core of what we do at Schneider. One company or one product cannot solve all of a customer’s business problems—we need to work together in ecosystems. That includes our suppliers, technology companies and also partners like Accenture, who we work closely with on many customer engagements. We are very focused on opening up our platforms so that our customers can create their own know-how and intellectual property (IP) on our platforms. For example, our IoT platform EcoStruxure has been a tremendous success for Schneider and for many of our customers who use it to collect data from their applications and use our Advisors to generate insights into that data. Now, we have embarked on a journey that will open up EcoStruxure even further—and allow our customers and partners to make the most of the data, with efficiency and sustainability as a compass.