In today’s world, it’s easy to focus on the immediate challenges we see before us. Troubles in the Middle East. Tensions rising in Eastern Europe. Viruses we thought we had under control suddenly erupting and spreading panic.
These are all critical and newsworthy topics. Yet, there are other, so-called low-trajectory, high-impact trends that might not make the headlines as frequently but also deserve attention. Take, for example, urbanization. By 2050, 70 percent of us will live in cities, and megacities of over 10 million will dot the globe—an unprecedented shift in how we live.
It’s going to be cozy.
Another one is industrialization. We’re in the midst of a third industrial revolution centered on renewable energy and the integration of IT into virtually everything. And then there is digitization. The Internet of Things—or, maybe better phrased as the “Interconnection of Things”—is going to foster new levels of integration.
Urbanization, industrialization, digitization will each enrich our lives. And each will require energy. A lot of energy. Despite all the innovation around us—maybe even because of it—our appetite for energy remains insatiable. If left unchecked, energy demand will grow by an astounding 56% by 2040. We are also going to have to double the food supply by 2050. But we’re going to have to meet this insatiable demand without increasing emissions or taking away forests for arable land. And we’re going to invest $57 trillion in new infrastructure. We can’t go on as business as usual.
While others may throw up their hands in dismay, we see things a little differently. At Schneider Electric, we believe progress is possible. In fact, we’re convinced that sustainable progress is possible.
We’re going to engage on this topic–how we as a society can tackle these pressing and undeniable challenges—quite a bit at Schneider. How we as a society can take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities that advances in operational technologies, the modernization of infrastructure, and the compelling argument for sustainability are presenting in the 21st century is both our business strategy as well as one of the fundamental issues facing the world as a whole. These opportunities will reshape our industries, transform cities and continue to power a better quality of life.
The theme at the Schneider Influencer Summit that took place on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at our new North American headquarters in Andover, MA is “The Next Age.” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will help us kick off the event with a formal opening of the new headquarters. We are also hearing from speakers such our CTO, Pascal Brosset; Executive Vice President of our Industry business, Clemens Blum; Todd Isherwood, who oversees energy initiatives in the City of Boston; Mark Gunther, Editor-at-Large; and John Hoekstra, our Director of Energy and Sustainability Services. I will also speak.
I have a long background working with big enterprise technology and software vendors such as Oracle and SAP. At these organizations, we did a great job helping enterprises improve the efficiency of their financial transactions, HR processes and even their interaction with customers. All very good things, but today we see an opportunity to close the efficiency gap at a much deeper, operational level.
So, what makes this moment in time different than five years ago, or 10 years ago? Or even five years from now? The intersection of connectivity, computing and energy is creating a new set of conditions and a new set of possibilities for our industry. It’s a time where everything—every device, building and piece of equipment—will be linked to a network to save time, save money, increase safety, and improve reliability.
In this emerging age, an accelerated shift toward operational technology, or OT, offers economic and environmental gains that will become proof points for modernizing even more of our infrastructure. Orchestrating and integrating heterogeneous, complex systems where we work, live and play can create a new, sustainable economy fueled as much by another level of efficiency as by natural resources. The Internet of Things (IoT) is ultimately a blend of IT and OT but in order for it to truly make a difference, OT will need to take a dominant role over IT. Did you follow that? Don’t worry, you will.
We see a world in which these cities are more liveable, more comfortable and more sustainable.
We see factories equipped with intelligent battery systems and UPSs that will unobtrusively curb power to avoid demand charges.
We see air-conditioners that can create a customized environment for everyone, improving comfort and lowering health problems.
Everything we know is going to be rebuilt, and it’s going to be more efficient, clean and intelligent.
In the next age of change, factories will produce more with less.
Buildings and homes will become more safe, secure and efficient.
Less will become more.
Life will get better.
Follow the Schneider Influencer Summit conversation on Twitter #SEInfluence14 and #TheNextAge and think about it … what does The Next Age mean to you?