The future of energy management, powered by the digital workplace With Arindam Sen, SVP of Digital Employee Experience, and Elizabeth Hackenson, CIO of Schneider Electric

Planet-wide, by 2050, 2.5 billion more people will move to big cities, and our global energy consumption will likely increase by more than 50%. This megatrend toward urbanization and the looming threat of climate change create a pressing need for energy-efficient solutions. Energy models are shifting as innovations are being made in areas of renewable energy and microgrids, while rapid advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) make never-before-possible devices a reality in the energy arena.

 

One change-maker in this space, Schneider Electric, is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation. The global company is revolutionizing the industry through its IoT-enabled EcoStruxure™ solutions, developed and built to solve concrete customer problems, and ensuring that Life is On™ everywhere, for everyone, and at every moment. From the simplest of switches to complex operational systems, EcoStruxure™ digital offers, software, and services to improve the way Schneider Electric’s customers manage their operations and energy use.

 

To support these initiatives, Schneider Electric must be innovative internally as well. With over 142,000 employees in 100-plus countries, the company requires technology tools that enable quick and secure collaboration across the entire organization.

 

For Arindam Sen, Senior Vice President of Digital Employee Experience at Schneider Electric, the pursuit of digital transformation drives him to lead initiatives across the length and breadth of everything employees touch. Transforming the experience of employees across the company started with the deployment of Box in 2012, but that was just the beginning.

 

"If you look at today versus three to four years back, it's a completely different world, in terms of the experience, but also the transformation people have gone through from a technology perspective."

— Arindam Sen, Senior Vice President of Digital Employee Experience, Schneider Electric

 

 

Digitizing processes for smoother, stronger content flow

 

Just as energy needs to move through systems efficiently, so does content. The move to Box was born out of a stagnant legacy system where files were stored on shared drives and emailed back and forth. The system was far from agile, and it certainly wasn't a mobile-first or cloud-first strategy.

 

Now on Box, the company has transitioned from having 80% of content hosted on premise to 90% held in the cloud, and 114,000-plus Schneider Electric employees are now active Box users, with an additional 100,000 users in the greater ecosystem. Adoption of Box has been facilitated by the integration between Box and Office 365, which makes it easy for employees to create, open, edit and collaborate on Microsoft files directly in Box. 

 

"We use the Box and Office 365 integration significantly across the board. It's one of the most-used integrations at Schneider Electric."

— Arindam Sen, Senior Vice President of Digital Employee Experience, Schneider Electric

 

 

In general, Box has allowed Schneider Electric to create more intuitive, fluid business processes. For instance, creating Requests for Proposals (RFPs) is typically a stressful time for project managers, who are under pressure to gather numbers from a variety of sources and unite them into one document. With Box, it's easier to communicate and share multiple file types with vendors outside the company. Sales teams can access presentations and marketing collateral during meetings with clients without having to download it ahead of time, and with detailed permission levels to ensure security and protection of data.

 

Box has also helped Schneider Electric digitize many of its paper-based processes — fax-based order management, legal processes, employee records and many supply chain use cases — to dramatically shorten cycle times. And with 207 factories in 44 countries, Schneider Electric can now get a consistent view across them with cohesive processes built on Box as a content layer.

 

A best-of-breed approach to APIs and integrations

 

In his role, Sen works closely with CIO Elizabeth Hackenson, responsible for holding the holistic technology vision at Schneider Electric. As a large company that's been around for a long time, Schneider has a lot of legacy technology and processes. Hackenson says, "We had created these monoliths. What we're finding with the digital age is that we can break these monoliths and use best-of-breed applications leveraging APIs."

 

 

One way Schneider Electric has leaned into its partnership with Box is through access to integrations, using both APIs Box has rolled out and custom applications they've built in-house. "We make great use of leveraging Box across the entire enterprise," Hackenson says. Now, users can share content within applications such as Salesforce and Office 365 without having to exit the application and rely on email to share files — with all the governance issues that brings.

 

And in a company where contracts are a big part of the business, the DocuSign integration has also been a game-changer. A process that used to involve a lot of paper and manual signatures is now obsolete, with contract signing happening electronically within DocuSign.

 

"We really want to innovate. That's what our customers and our partners expect from us, so we have to always be on the leading edge of technology, which is why we joined up with Box."

— Elizabeth Hackenson, CIO, Schneider Electric

 

 

The right way to approach change across a diverse workforce

 

As ingrained as Box and these various integrations are in the day-to-day flow of work at Schneider Electric, Sen describes the initial transition to Cloud Content Management as a transformative journey that had to take into account different demographics of users. While millennials are often in the spotlight as a driver in today's workforce, the reality, according to Sen, is that 60% of a company like Schneider's employees are not millennials. So there's a mix of user types involved in any technology change — those who intuitively jump into a digital environment, and those for whom it's a paradigm shift.

Schneider Electric

Sen and his team have a proactive and patient approach to change management. They hold in-person trainings on large sites to help people on the ground, offer ongoing video-based trainings and use social channels to get people involved and communication. "The more conversation we have," he says, "the more people engage." Training is offered on an ongoing basis for those who want to delve into more detail about ways to use Box.

 

Extending the strength of governance across the content ecosystem

 

Enthusiastic user adoption is one thing; quality data governance another. As a cloud-based solution, Box is platform-agnostic. This made it easy for IT to implement Box quickly while retaining strict control over all company data. Schneider Electric’s employees can share files securely with a simple link or custom URL. Content is password-protected, with granular control over permission levels so IT has the ability to protect sensitive data. If an employee accidentally sends a file to the wrong person, he or she can "take back" that action. Using the auditing and tracking features inherent to Box, Schneider Electric’s IT team can view the activity of any user account or file.

 

For Sen, governance is a universal concern, not an application-based one. Working with the legal team, he has set up consistent archiving and retention policies. He says, "What we've tried to do is set up certain security policies that are the same across all the platforms that are in the cloud. This is where Box Governance really came in, because some of those features that we required were already part of the Box Governance framework."

 

Sen has also been able to institute security features such as device-trust capability, multi-factor identification and the ability to automate what happens when people leave the company. Files that once would have slipped through the cracks now shift ownership back to the appropriate manager once an employee departs. Nothing is left in limbo.  

 

The future of energy (and energy industry) innovation

 

Looking to the future, Schneider Electric's strategy will continue to be to pick and choose best-in-breed solutions and explore the ability to pull metadata from content and take advantage of the automation capabilities Box has built in. "We've been a Box customer for a long time," says Sen. "So, we've gone with Box from a pretty much nascent stage to where it is today. It's pretty exciting, and I'm looking forward to see how we can leverage Box even better."

 

The Blueprint for enabled content in an innovative industry

 

  • Rely on Cloud Content Management to allow content to flow easily through the company's ecosystem
  • Lean into APIs and integrations for a highly customized, best-in-breed approach to content management workflows
  • Strengthen governance across all these solutions with well-thought-out requirements carried out with a strong governance partner

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