In December of last year, Schneider Electric and its partner IBM signed on the first customer for a solution that connects the Schneider Electric Andover Continuum building management system to the IBM Intelligent Building Management System. The customer, a hospital management firm in the UK, will benefit from a bidirectional flow of information between the two systems, giving IT and facility managers an unprecedented amount of building information that will allow them to be proactive about making changes and modifications to improve energy efficiency.
When I got to thinking about all the work that it took to reach that milestone – our first joint sale – it struck me as a good example of the power of partnerships and the mutual support it takes to make a partnership successful.
The idea to jointly work on an intelligent building management system came out of a meeting nearly two years ago, in April 2010, between a few Schneider Electric and IBM executives. We thought we could help each other deliver a combined solution that would enable customers to make their buildings more energy aware and efficient, and save both capital and operating expenses. The day we walked out of that meeting in Chicago, the mutual support started.
After creating a high-level business plan and aligning strategy, Schneider Electric and IBM technical folks worked for some 9 months on the software and strategy it would take to tie our systems together. This involved daily, weekly and monthly updates – an ongoing mutual support effort. It’s their work that really provides the greatest benefit to customers, by saving them the trouble and effort of integrating the systems on their own.
But it takes more than that to bring a joint solution to market. Our respective marketing teams had to work on launch strategies, finding the right customers to target and the right message to bring to them. Last summer we jointly hosted a big launch event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that again required various levels of support from both sides, to create materials and presentations and line up the appropriate people to be on hand.
All this behind the scenes work is what makes the partnership valuable to our customers. It results in a better solution for the customer because we’ve worked out all the details prior to you even seeing the offering. And you can rest assured that the solution you’re getting will have the most value for what you pay, because we’ve done the integration work for you.
It takes mutual support at every stage of the process to make this kind of partnership work. It’s really like a marriage, where two people have to support, communicate with and trust each other for the marriage to be successful.
At Schneider Electric, we feel fortunate to have such a great partnership with IBM because we think it helps us deliver more value to our customers. We look forward to demonstrating to more of you how we can do just that.