Schneider Electric exec: Quick decision-making is key in Silicon Valley

Campbell-mugIt has been just two years since the French multinational Schneider Electric set up an innovation center in Silicon Valley. But already, the outpost is helping the $30 billion company experiment with new services and business models.

One of the first examples is an offering that uses connected devices inside a consumer’s home to help them save money on their electric bill. Vice President of Innovation Paul Campbell likens it to what Uber has done in the ride-hailing market and what Airbnb is doing in the room-booking space.

The energy management and automation leader, with 170,000 employees worldwide, teamed with a technology startup to encourage consumers to use less power at moments of peak demand. How? By linking devices like WiFi-connected thermostats, electric car chargers, and pool pumps to a system that allows them to be automatically switched off or to a lower setting when utilities are trying to reduce energy consumption, like the middle of an August heat wave. Consumers get rewarded with cash for cutting their usage, much as they might earn money from renting out a spare bedroom on Airbnb.

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