Game Changer Profile
Prith Banerjee, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Schneider Electric Read insights
Prith Banerjee is Group CTO of Schneider Electric, a global leader in energy management and automation, with operations in more than 100 countries. With an EcoStruxure platform that defines its “Innovation at Every Level” business philosophy, Schneider leverages the most advanced data technologies—and an open, standards-based innovation strategy—for next-generation solutions and efficiencies. Its commitment to innovation is illustrated in an R&D budget of 5 percent of revenue and a dedicated architecture for incremental, new-market, and disruptive innovation, defined as Horizon 1 (core or short-term), Horizon 2 (adjacent or medium-term), and Horizon 3 (disruptive or long-term). Historically, its disruptive initiatives include pioneering aspects of IoT itself in 1996, and with recent technologies like arc-fault detection and its new IoT-enabled M580 automation controller. Today, its connected circuit breakers, protection relays and variable speed drives are already reducing machine downtime for customers with remote reporting of actionable data, while pilot projects are underway to slash downtime even further, with asset performance management IoT systems predicting faults before they happen.
Meanwhile, Schneider is now looking at business model transformations, in which guarantees of production outcomes can be sold as services. Seeing access to energy as a basic human right, the company’s “Life is On” vision is to ensure that energy is available to everyone in a safe, reliable, and sustainable manner. Anticipating global megatrends like rapid urbanization and digitization as the defining parameters for this vision, Schneider recruited Banerjee as Group CTO specifically to drive digital innovation and the transformation to IoT. Banerjee was previously MD for Global Technology R&D at Accenture, after serving as CTO for ABB and Senior VP for Research and Director of HP Labs at Hewlett Packard. In driving innovation and technology differentiation for these leading companies, he also leveraged significant academic experience. Banerjee has served as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Walter Murphy Professor and Chairman of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northwestern University. He is also the author of 350 research papers.
In an interview with BPI, Banerjee says that despite the massive strides already made with IoT-enabled solutions, the truly game-changing innovations will come from next-generation analytics on big data. And he says those leaps in efficiency are not only required for competitive advantage, but also for the macro challenges of demand and sustainability facing the industry. Banerjee also mentions a 300 percent increase in efficiency is required to deal with a 50 percent increase in global energy consumption in 40 years without significantly increasing carbon emissions. Fortunately, the company’s portfolio of innovative products has vast consumption efficiency gaps to eat into, including 50 percent energy inefficiencies in asset-intensive industries and a stunning rate of 80 percent inefficiencies in the world’s buildings.
Banerjee says the bringing together of smart energy management, automation, and software could not only achieve the required efficiencies, but also lead to exciting new business models.