As a marketing veteran, I must admit, MIPIM Cannes appeared to be another  real estate tradeshow event with the same formula- conference, tradeshow and corporate brands.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

MIPIM Cannes was a virtual who’s who in the global property markets and they had a lot to say and business to do.  Many of the world’s growing cities were there demonstrating their future vision, and those plans were green and sustainable.  I saw cities putting citizens and the environment at the heart of their strategies, and I also observed corporations obsessed with the employee experience in their work environments, and this is the message that hit home for me.  For our part, Schneider Electric contributed to the conversation with executives on panel discussions on engaging the future with digitization in smart buildings.

Schneider Electric Real Estate

Schneider Electric real estate at MIPIM Cannes

Michael Sullivan, VP Buildings Segments, discussing how digitization and smart buildings will impact the future of real estate at MIPIM Cannes 2019.

Employee Experience

So, let’s talk about the focus on employee experience in real estate at MIPIM.

As millennials move to the workforce in droves, they are teaching all of us some things about work-life integration, and this is evident in their changing expectations of the workplace.  They’ve grown up with a smartphone in hand and access to the world via google and apps.  Why should their workplace be any different?

App-driven Workplace

Given the changing face of the workforce, it’s not surprising that the app-driven workplace was a key topic of many discussions.  Commercial building occupants want access to services like the cafeteria menu and wait times, the ability to easily book a meeting room, and even to manage their dry cleaning and car care at the touch of a screen.  This is leading to what some are calling the ‘hotelization’ of the workplace where concierge services are expected and common spaces feel less like work and more like home.   Panel discussions focused on the importance of shared areas such as cafés and lobbies where employees can have ad-hoc meetings and extend their workspaces.  In new construction, lobbies are being built to look less austere and more comfortable, and workspaces are beginning to look more like living rooms than offices.  In fact, some at MIPIM suggested that the word ‘office’ is out of style and that ‘workplace’ is more in vogue.

And why not manage your workplace via voice?  With many of us accessing services at home via Amazon Alexa and other voice-enabled apps, the expectation for the same conveniences is moving to the workplace.  Why can’t we control the lights and temperature via voice or change the music in our common areas?

Efficiency and Building Value

With so many options for where employees can work – from home to the local coffee shop- employers must make their offices appealing to get people into the office and engaging face to face.  In addition to building aesthetics and digitization of services, improvements in efficiency can help make workplaces more attractive.  A commercial office building that gives time back to people is worth a lot more to tenants and building occupants and may even result in higher rents and long-term building value.  When services are readily available and employees are efficient and productive, it becomes a easier to attract and retain employees.

New Role of the Property Manager

 These changes in the workplace and the way real estate is developed are leading to changes in the role of the property manager.  Traditionally, the property manager ensured that the properties under his/her care operated smoothly, maintained their appearance, and either preserved or increased in value.  The new role of the property manager will be hospitality-centric.  Like the ‘hotelization’ of the workplace aesthetic, the role of the property manager is changing to include the acquisition and delivery of services for building occupants.  For example, the food court can no longer be a one size fits all, but rather it should have options for varying diets and tastes as well as higher end options for VIPs and visiting guests.  To compete with nearby addresses, the new role of the property manager will be to uncover the unique needs of the building occupants and deliver services to meet these needs- anything from lunchtime yoga to dog-walking groups.

With so much to learn at MIPIM about engaging the future of real estate, the focus on the changing workplace was the most fascinating to me and aligned so well with Schneider Electric’s vision of a harmonious, digital workplace.  At Schneider Electric, we are committed to embracing the future and we have a clear focus on using digitization to improve operational efficiency and sustainability with our open innovation platform and architecture called EcoStruxure™.  With offers available today such as EcoStruxure Building Advisor and EcoStruxure Workplace Advisor, we support real estate professionals looking to maximize value from their properties and create a more efficient and productive workplace for their employees, and our open innovation platform will allow them to plan for the needs of tomorrow.  Thanks to the MIPIM team for an amazing ‘first timer’ experience, and we’ll look forward to seeing what the future brings at MIPIM Cannes 2020!

For more information on Schneider Electric’s solutions for Commercial Real Estate, check out our Building Management blogs or  visit our website.

For many of us, our older siblings are our earliest mentors.  That’s because they frequently pass – directly or indirectly – their life lessons down to us. We benefit because, when applied correctly, that knowledge– wisdom, really– can help us navigate through life’s challenges a bit more smoothly, which helps us get ahead.

That scenario can be easily applied to the world of industrial manufacturing, especially when we look at the close, almost familial relationship between safety and cybersecurity. As in many families, where siblings often take on distinct but complementary roles and personalities, safety and security each serve and execute a specific, critical function. Like siblings, they are closely related, with safety being the older, more mature of the two. That means the cybersecurity function can benefit from many of the lessons safety has learned over the years. But more importantly, we are beginning to understand that applying this acquired knowledge to the cybersecurity function in turn can have a positive effect on the safety of the plant.

As industrial manufacturing companies embark or continue their digital transformations, they also continue to shrink the gap between their IT and OT functions. While that frequently improves business and operations performance, it also means cybersecurity risks that at one time affected only the external network can now impact the process control and safety systems, with potentially disastrous consequences.

The changing landscape

As the demand for applications that extract new business value from operational data increases, so too does the number of connected devices, as well as the need for stronger cybersecurity practices and discipline

When network connectivity expands, the attack surface widens (because each new connection becomes a possible entry point for would-be attackers). That means plant operators and managers not only need to prepare for new sources of data traffic, they need to anticipate the likelihood of increasingly sophisticated attacks.

Studies verify that the scope, power and sophistication of cyber-attacks grow every day. A recent article noted that prominent London tourist attractions have been attacked more than 100 million times in the past few years.  Kew Gardens saw an increase in spyware of 526% in 2018, suffering more than 82 million attempts.[i]  And when it comes to industry and critical infrastructure, new, stronger and more insidious actors are perpetrating new types of attacks on new targets, like process safety and control systems. That means we must start taking a new, better approach to securing our operations. And that’s where safety– cybersecurity’s older sibling– can help out.

Apply Experience to Manage Risk

Improving the safety of the operation is all about understanding, predicting and then managing risks. And that is the case with cybersecurity as well. So why not apply all that we’ve learned from managing safety risk to improve how we manage and mitigate cybersecurity risks?

Plant operators and managers must constantly monitor and gauge the performance of their assets and operations and then apply trusted solutions to measure and understand their safety profile, i.e., how far can they push their operations without exceeding safety risks. The cybersecurity lifecycle is very similar to safety, meaning operators and managers can apply similar methods, solutions and technologies to understand and mitigate security risks, i.e., how they can improve business performance without risking an incident or attack.

One such practice is conducting a cybersecurity process hazard analysis (CyberPHA), which is a solid tool borrowed specifically from the safety side of the house.

A CyberPHA is a very structured systematic approach to understanding cyber risk. In conducting a CyberPHA, a user can see the real consequence if the system is compromised. It puts cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the right context of the operations, i.e., what if the system shuts down.

Another tool or method is an assessment of the ICS system itself to understand how it is vulnerable.  A user would evaluate the ICS by looking at the control system’s design and:

  • Reviewing as-built or as-found drawings
  • Analyzing network communications, i.e., what devices are talking to what devices
  • Analyzing network devices
  • Analyzing servers/workstations
  • Analyzing ICS devices
  • Partitioning the system into zones and conduits
  • Reviewing policies and procedures
  • Recommending mitigations

Identifying the need to segregate networks, maintaining strict change management protocols, and adding additional host / network-based security controls as a last layer of defense are other safety practices that should be considered to improve cyber defense and to mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks.

Industrial manufacturers are under constant pressure to improve business and operating performance. To maintain a competitive advantage while meeting fluctuating market demands, they work at breakneck speed to ensure more product gets out the door, safely and securely. Advanced, digital technology, what we mostly call the IIoT, is frequently the answer to their needs. And while the resultant increase in connectivity can increase business performance and results, it also increases the risks of cyber-attack. Therefore, security professionals need to leverage the best tools, knowledge and experience available.

Why not borrow what works best from our big brother across the hall? Safety has taught us well. Now it’s time to learn even more. Come take part in “Cyber Summit ‘19”, a virtual event and expert panel discussion on “How does cybersecurity affect safety, and what should you do about it?”Register here.

[i] http://www.thecommentator.com/article/7329/cyber_criminals_hit_london_tourist_landmarks_with_100_million_attacks

My previous blog posts tackled the huge growth opportunity that is B2B eCommerce and its specific dynamics in the electrical distribution industry. But what does it take to successfully reap the benefits of B2B eCommerce? What are the main challenges faced when it comes to putting together a well-oiled B2B eCommerce organization?

 

Challenges to overcome to successfully implement and drive B2B eCommerce

In fact, for a B2B organization, getting into eCommerce is easier said than done. B2B eCommerce is more than just another channel. It is a business strategy, set to enhance the overall end-to-end customer experience.

This means B2B organizations need to include into their digital transformation approach the various departments, organizational structures, complex legacy technology environments, systems, operational processes and business priorities. We can regroup this into three main challenges that come with setting up B2B eCommerce: People, Technology and Processes. In this blog post, I would like to address the not so often discussed topic: People!

 

The challenge of people in B2B organizations

When we talk about people, we actually refer to many things altogether: setting up the right culture, the right leadership and the right combination of profiles with the right expertise in each role. This is a real challenge when it comes to B2B eCommerce.

You probably won’t find the eCommerce expertise and competency you need in your organization straight away. Even worse, you will most probably struggle to attract digital talents.

So, in our current increasingly competitive candidate-driven job market, why aren’t B2B organizations able to capture this pool of talents?

First, these are new roles and experiences B2B organizations are not used to hiring. Then, there is a shortage of eCommerce resources looking to work in B2B: it seems the B2B world does not appeal much to digital talents. Several reasons can help understand why:

  • Today, people value work-life balance, a pleasant and creative work environment as well as flexibility. All of these are not really B2B organizations’ greatest assets. Rightly or wrongly, manufacturers and distributors are associated with the 9-to-5 desk job mentality and their office spaces are usually very conventional and located outside the city, most probably in an industrial park.
  • Moreover, B2B organizations usually lack a strong consumer brand even if employer branding is expected to gain greater strategic importance by 2020: in Universum’s survey “2020 Outlook, the Future of Employer Branding”, 40% of CEOs interviewed said their future goal for employer branding was to secure long-term hiring needs. For example, at Schneider Electric, our employee value proposition is a key area of focus when it comes to recruiting talents. It is built around three core values: meaningful, inclusive and empowered.
  • Lastly, attracting digital talents means attracting millennials. As a matter of fact, they will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Having said that, millennials look to work for companies that will give them opportunities for career advancement which means companies offering flexibility to learn and grow quickly as well as entrusting even the youngest with responsibilities. However, compared to B2C organizations, B2B ones don’t exactly focus on marketing this when recruiting…

Addressing the challenge of people for our Schneider Electric eCommerce business

Above all, strong executive sponsorship is a must-have before even thinking of building your eCommerce team. This will enable to foster change management within your organization and get the resources needed to drive your digital transformation. It is fair to say that without the support from our top management at Schneider, we would not be where we are today.

As a team, we see our B2B eCommerce transformation as an ongoing process rather than a project. Over the past 3-4 years, our Schneider eCommerce team gradually came together with the constant underlying aim to build the best team.

  • Recruiting for potential and cultural fit

To begin with, it’s important for us to look at each employee’s (internal) or candidate’s (external) potential. By potential, we mean their strengths and weaknesses. We look beyond the obvious competencies and assets linked to their current position and team. Indeed, we don’t solely rely on knowledge and expertise as soft skills and a digital mindset are what will make a candidate stand out from the others. More than that, they are a must for us.

We look for people that embody a certain culture, in line with Schneider’s core values. This culture promotes agility & flexibility as crucial assets as well as the ability to learn fast and every day. We also want people that dare to disrupt, to embrace different and to make mistakes while always acting like owners and using their judgement.

  • Striving for the ideal well-balanced team

Having said that, it is crucial to create the right combination and blend of profiles. Furthermore, many recent studies from top consulting firms have proven that a business is likely to perform better financially if its workforce is more diverse.

  • We balance internal recruits with external ones so that we have on one hand people with great industry and product knowledge, who know how our company operates, and on the other hand people who bring an outside perspective and a new outlook on things. For example, we don’t only look for people with a B2B background, but we broaden our search to consider B2C profiles. Having both people that know eCommerce and others that know Schneider Electric is crucial to successfully drive the eCommerce transformation in our company. In fact, we have initially deliberately created the eCommerce team as a parallel structure to be more agile and lean to achieve quick wins but we are now slowly converging with the larger Schneider Electric organization. So, if we want to drive a successful transformation, we cannot afford getting a team of experts that is not able to connect the dots with the Schneider culture.
  • Gender balance is also a reality in our eCommerce team and today we are proud to have 50% women.
  • We also try and balance out different generations with one team member out of two who is a millennial. They don’t have the experience others may have but they will be the driving force behind the digital tran
  • sformation.
  • Last but not least, over 60% of our team members each have a different nationality, with each continent represented.
Multi-aged, multi-cultural group in B2B eCommerce meeting

Putting this culture, mindset and diversity forward while looking for new recruits is without any doubt what makes us attractive to digital talents. We offer a real learning experience to these talents joining our team and this is precisely our key differentiator as an employer. Salary is not the only driver anymore when it comes to accepting a job offer and these new talents ask for more experience wise and exposure wise.

In addition to this, we make sure each voice is heard, for example through Top Council meetings organized for selected country eCommerce managers and also through a Millennial Committee set up to gather feedback and bold ideas from the youngest team members. Lastly, we have set up an eCommerce hub in downtown Amsterdam bringing together one third of our team. This enabled us to strengthen our team cohesion and attract digital talents.

After a starting phase where the eCommerce team was just made of a couple of people, the team grew exponentially this past year and today we are entering a third phase of optimization. We are redefining and narrowing down roles to have more experts and less all-rounders.

In my next blog post, I will focus on the second challenge faced when setting up B2B eCommerce in an organization: Processes.

My previous blog posts tackled the huge growth opportunity that is B2B eCommerce and its specific dynamics in the electrical distribution industry. But what does it take to successfully reap the benefits of B2B eCommerce? What are the main challenges faced when it comes to putting together a well-oiled B2B eCommerce organization?

 

Challenges to overcome to successfully implement and drive B2B eCommerce

In fact, for a B2B organization, getting into eCommerce is easier said than done. B2B eCommerce is more than just another channel. It is a business strategy, set to enhance the overall end-to-end customer experience.

This means B2B organizations need to include into their digital transformation approach the various departments, organizational structures, complex legacy technology environments, systems, operational processes and business priorities. We can regroup this into three main challenges that come with setting up B2B eCommerce: People, Technology and Processes. In this blog post, I would like to address the not so often discussed topic: People!

 

The challenge of people in B2B organizations

When we talk about people, we actually refer to many things altogether: setting up the right culture, the right leadership and the right combination of profiles with the right expertise in each role. This is a real challenge when it comes to B2B eCommerce.

You probably won’t find the eCommerce expertise and competency you need in your organization straight away. Even worse, you will most probably struggle to attract digital talents.

So, in our current increasingly competitive candidate-driven job market, why aren’t B2B organizations able to capture this pool of talents?

First, these are new roles and experiences B2B organizations are not used to hiring. Then, there is a shortage of eCommerce resources looking to work in B2B: it seems the B2B world does not appeal much to digital talents. Several reasons can help understand why:

  • Today, people value work-life balance, a pleasant and creative work environment as well as flexibility. All of these are not really B2B organizations’ greatest assets. Rightly or wrongly, manufacturers and distributors are associated with the 9-to-5 desk job mentality and their office spaces are usually very conventional and located outside the city, most probably in an industrial park.
  • Moreover, B2B organizations usually lack a strong consumer brand even if employer branding is expected to gain greater strategic importance by 2020: in Universum’s survey “2020 Outlook, the Future of Employer Branding”, 40% of CEOs interviewed said their future goal for employer branding was to secure long-term hiring needs. For example, at Schneider Electric, our employee value proposition is a key area of focus when it comes to recruiting talents. It is built around three core values: meaningful, inclusive and empowered.
  • Lastly, attracting digital talents means attracting millennials. As a matter of fact, they will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Having said that, millennials look to work for companies that will give them opportunities for career advancement which means companies offering flexibility to learn and grow quickly as well as entrusting even the youngest with responsibilities. However, compared to B2C organizations, B2B ones don’t exactly focus on marketing this when recruiting…

Addressing the challenge of people for our Schneider Electric eCommerce business

Above all, strong executive sponsorship is a must-have before even thinking of building your eCommerce team. This will enable to foster change management within your organization and get the resources needed to drive your digital transformation. It is fair to say that without the support from our top management at Schneider, we would not be where we are today.

As a team, we see our B2B eCommerce transformation as an ongoing process rather than a project. Over the past 3-4 years, our Schneider eCommerce team gradually came together with the constant underlying aim to build the best team.

  • Recruiting for potential and cultural fitMulti-aged, multi-cultural group in B2B eCommerce meeting

To begin with, it’s important for us to look at each employee’s (internal) or candidate’s (external) potential. By potential, we mean their strengths and weaknesses. We look beyond the obvious competencies and assets linked to their current position and team. Indeed, we don’t solely rely on knowledge and expertise as soft skills and a digital mindset are what will make a candidate stand out from the others. More than that, they are a must for us.

We look for people that embody a certain culture, in line with Schneider’s core values. This culture promotes agility & flexibility as crucial assets as well as the ability to learn fast and every day. We also want people that dare to disrupt, to embrace different and to make mistakes while always acting like owners and using their judgement.

  • Striving for the ideal well-balanced team

Having said that, it is crucial to create the right combination and blend of profiles. Furthermore, many recent studies from top consulting firms have proven that a business is likely to perform better financially if its workforce is more diverse.

  • We balance internal recruits with external ones so that we have on one hand people with great industry and product knowledge, who know how our company operates, and on the other hand people who bring an outside perspective and a new outlook on things. For example, we don’t only look for people with a B2B background, but we broaden our search to consider B2C profiles. Having both people that know eCommerce and others that know Schneider Electric is crucial to successfully drive the eCommerce transformation in our company. In fact, we have initially deliberately created the eCommerce team as a parallel structure to be more agile and lean to achieve quick wins but we are now slowly converging with the larger Schneider Electric organization. So, if we want to drive a successful transformation, we cannot afford getting a team of experts that is not able to connect the dots with the Schneider culture.
  • Gender balance is also a reality in our eCommerce team and today we are proud to have 50% women.
  • We also try and balance out different generations with one team member out of two who is a millennial. They don’t have the experience others may have but they will be the driving force behind the digital transformation.
  • Last but not least, over 60% of our team members each have a different nationality, with each continent represented.

Putting this culture, mindset and diversity forward while looking for new recruits is without any doubt what makes us attractive to digital talents. We offer a real learning experience to these talents joining our team and this is precisely our key differentiator as an employer. Salary is not the only driver anymore when it comes to accepting a job offer and these new talents ask for more experience wise and exposure wise.

In addition to this, we make sure each voice is heard, for example through Top Council meetings organized for selected country eCommerce managers and also through a Millennial Committee set up to gather feedback and bold ideas from the youngest team members. Lastly, we have set up an eCommerce hub in downtown Amsterdam bringing together one third of our team. This enabled us to strengthen our team cohesion and attract digital talents.

After a starting phase where the eCommerce team was just made of a couple of people, the team grew exponentially this past year and today we are entering a third phase of optimization. We are redefining and narrowing down roles to have more experts and less all-rounders.

In my next blog post, I will focus on the second challenge faced when setting up B2B eCommerce in an organization: Processes.