Cisco and Schneider Electric: Connecting Intelligent Systems for a Smarter World

Schneider Electric and Cisco in Canada signed a collaboration agreement earlier in 2014. We celebrated our partnership at Earth Rangers Center – a live sustainable showcase of both our latest technologies (see: “Announcing our Canadian Partnership with Schneider Electric” blog).

Since then, Schneider Electric and Cisco have been working actively on numerous projects together in the energy and industrial marketplace as well as in construction. We come historically from very different worlds and our paths rarely crossed. Schneider Electric sells to operations (OT, operation technologies) and it often involves complex large environmental systems (naturally, they do a lot more than that, please check out the Schneider Electric Canada website). Cisco sells to IT (information technology) and if often involves networks and collaboration technologies (of course, we do a lot more than that, please check out the Cisco Canada website). 

But in today’s new world, which is largely being shaped by the latest generation of Internet technologies, one in where people, process, data, and things all communicate freely with one another over IP networks in an effort to transform industries and deliver business outcomes (also called: the Internet of Everything), we increasingly see IT and OT work together to solve real business problems.

IT is moving from the server room (where it often is about features, functionalities, and low-cost compliance) to the board room (where it concerns solving real business problems and adding value to the bottom line). OT is realizing a growing need for IT to connect the increasingly complex systems and provide the ability to monitor, control, and optimize the industrial and mission critical infrastructures. The emergence of the “Internet of Things” (or Machine-to-Machine, M2M) is calling for IT practices to be introduced to OT in order to optimize and secure the flow of bits and bytes in support of delivering positive impact to business outcomes.

It is here that we find that Schneider Electric and Cisco aren’t that different after all. We both are world-leading companies that historically sell point solutions (or components of point solutions) into only one part of our customers’ business (IT or OT). Often, we get commoditized and find ourselves defending the features, functionalities and cost of our respective products and services. As the paradigm shifts, both Schneider Electric and Cisco are moving up from the lower levels of the supply chain, right in the middle of the leadership conversation.

Our solutions together are game changers. Together we have the ability to impact our customers’ business outcomes and deliver value that impacts the bottom line and our customers’ experience. Together we have the ability to transform businesses and industries. Such new kinds of partnerships are critical in today’s world as we see customers looking for partners (instead of vendors) that understand their business and can provide incremental value to solve real business matters.

Last week in Calgary, Schneider Electric invited Cisco as its only partner to join them in their E3: Experience – Efficiency – Energy customer event in Calgary (there is still time to register for the upcoming Toronto October 16/17 event). Much of the conversation was about the changing world, and the consequent changes in delivering energy, efficiency and business solutions. Great conversations took place with customers and value-added resellers (that now are master integrators as they embrace both OT and IT capabilities and become experts in bundling Schneider Electric and Cisco products and services). During a panel session, we discussed the relevance of innovation in energy, efficiency and experiences as we look at the future of our Cities. MESH Cities, City of Calgary, Deloitte, Cisco Canada and Schneider Electric debated the role of technology and the focus on business outcomes as we all are striving for sustainable and future-ready communities.

The event was another great milestone of our partnership, one which will show some amazing examples of transformation, business outcomes and the Internet of Everything.

About Rick Huijbregts

Rick Huijbregts is Vice President of Industry Transformation where he is responsible for Cisco Canada’s IoE strategy and industry business development. The members of his team are industry subject matter experts and each engage in the transformation of their respective industries (healthcare, oil and gas, financial services, education, real estate, and industrial sector). Huijbregts is also General Manager for Cisco Canada’s Smart + Connected Communities practice, including Smart + Connected Real Estate. Huijbregts holds construction and architecture degrees from Tilburg Polytechnic University and Delft University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate from Harvard University. Huijbregts is currently a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education where he teaches classes on Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. He also serves on several boards of Canadian academic institutions and not-for-profits. Rick Huijbregts est vice-président de la transformation sectorielle dont les responsabilités comptent la stratégie de l’internet multidimensionnel et le développement commercial du secteur industriel de Cisco Canada. Les membres de son équipe sont tous des experts dans différents domaines et œuvrent à la transformation de leurs secteurs d’activité respectifs (santé, énergie, services financiers, enseignement, immobilier et industrie). Huijbregts est également directeur général du segment des communautés intelligentes et connectées, dont le volet immotique des immeubles intelligents et connectés de Cisco Canada. M. Huijbregts est titulaire de diplômes en construction et architecture de l’université Tilburg Polytechnic et de l’université Delft aux Pays-Bas ainsi que d’un doctorat de l’université Harvard. Il est actuellement professeur de Harvard à la faculté d’études supérieures pour les cadres en aménagement urbain où il donne des cours sur la gestion intelligente des immeubles et des villes. Il siège également à plusieurs conseils d’administration d’universités et d’organismes à but non lucratif.
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