Service only one part of Schneider Electric strategy

With Invensys integration done, company now looks at automation skills gap issues.


With the acquisition of Invensys by Schneider Electric a year ago now in the rear view mirror, the company's global software business can now look ahead to new challenges in an evolving global landscape.

In a wide-ranging discussion with media attending the 2014 Global Software Conference in Orlando, Ravi Gopinath, executive vice president of Schneider Electric's global solutions software business and Daniel Doimo, executive vice president of Schneider Electric's global solutions business, said the integration of Invensys into the Schneider Electric portfolio opens the doors for further growth for the company.

"We see the integration into Schneider Electric as a game-changing moment," said Gopinath, a former Invensys executive, echoing the overall theme of the Orlando event. "This strengthens strategy put in place with Invensys. It reaffirms what we hear individually. The environment within Schneider is great for integration.

The immediate challenge to that strategy is to expand its automation service business to provide help for manufacturers of all sizes who are struggling with the dual challenges of capital constraints and worker shortages.

"The boundary lines are starting to be drawn," Gopinath said. "If you look at operator companies, they increasingly are facing supply side talent issues. The question is, can you access talent, or could you relinquish the need to take that on yourself?

"It also depends on what drives your company. Could an automation supplier deliver automation as a service?" he added. "We don't intend to become a services business. We think our value is derived from licensing of software. What we want to do is enable our IT network even more, but with specific methodology. We want to own the customer experience."

Both executives said they see the continuing skills gap issue as a major challenge for both manufacturers and suppliers.

"The world is starving for resources. Human resources is one of them," Doimo said. "Engineering schools will always develop an limited amount of talent. They will have to decide where to go based on the kind of personal development they can have. Positioning ourselves as that kind of company will help us attract more talent."

"I don't think we do a very good job of tapping into global talent base," Gopinath said. "One thing think need to do is that we're excited about space we work in, but it's not something that is top of mind or visible out there unless you are in the space. How do we make industrial software cool?

"We've all got to start messaging this out," he added. "There is a massive transformation happening, and it needs to be more publicized. We need to be more out there in capturing the minds of people. We have to better attract people at start of their careers."

- Bob Vavra is content manager, Plant Engineering, CFE Media. Edited by CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering.

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