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July 11, 2019
Why Schneider Electric has been pivoting for 180 years
By: Omar Abbosh

In the second episode of our podcast series—“Pivot to the Future”—I chatted with Jean-Pascal Tricoire, 12-year Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric about his secret to how his company continually evolves and stays on top.

I mentioned in my last blog a podcast series I’m running with musician, philanthropist and technology investor will.i.am. We’re talking about how companies can navigate ongoing disruption and become engines of continuous reinvention. In the second in the series we’ve heard from Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric, the digital solutions provider for efficiency and sustainability.

DOWNLOAD VIDEO TRANSCRIPT [PDF]

Tricoire is at the helm of a company that knows a thing or two about a wise pivot—amazingly, it’s been pivoting since the start of the industrial revolution! This is a company that started in pig iron and steel in the 1800s and now has more than 25 billion euros in revenue a year.

Schneider Electric is the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation and the company prides itself on being a champion for energy saving and carbon reduction. Its success has involved tremendous growth. The company has tripled in size. It has pivoted from a regional company to a global company, and from a products-based provider to outcome-based solutions.

I asked Tricoire about the big pivots he’s made in his 12 years as CEO of Schneider Electric and what they’ve taught him so far. He told me he’s learned that there are two kinds of pivots—the ones you initiate, which are good for the company, and the other pivots you have to make, the painful ones where you’re forced to act by industry disruptions.

What’s great to see about Schneider’s pivots is that they are focused on being hyper-relevant to their customers. Tricoire mentions a recent deal with AVEVA—a company leading in industrial software for design, build and engineering—as a good example of making a timely wise pivot. Merging Schneider’s industrial operations software business with AVEVA’s core software business opened the door to AVEVA’s ability to provide end to end software to manage the full life cycle of customers’ industrial environment and unlock value for both companies.

Tricoire talks, too, about the need to reconcile the deadlock of progress, energy and climate change in the next 20 years. Contrast areas of the world that still don’t have decent access to energy and digital convergence promising unforeseen efficiencies and you have some idea of the pivot that is going to be necessary to serve the next wave of transformation in this industry.

In our book “Pivot to the Future” we note that companies have to be amazing at technology. And technology has certainly been instrumental in enabling Schneider Electric to make life simpler for its customers, train the workforce and address cybersecurity.

What I’ve learned in the course of our research efforts and our work with big companies is that one-off transformation doesn't really do the job. A company needs to be willing to continually evolve pretty much every aspect of its business over time in a whole series of pivots—it's continual reinvention rather than one-off transformation that matters. Schneider Electric has been showing us the success of that approach over the last 180 years.

Listen in to the podcast for more and bookmark this page so you don’t miss out on the series.

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