Chris Hummel, CMO, Schneider Electric

Chris Hummel is Chief Marketing Office of Schneider Electric.


Dec 19, 2014

Chris Hummel is Chief Marketing Office of Schneider Electric. He has a 25-year career in enterprise sales and marketing and is a globally-recognized thought leader, widely-respected among senior executives in the technology industry and among global chief marketing officers.  He is a true international executive, having lived, worked, and successfully led organizations around the globe, including the US, UK, Germany, Russia, China, Singapore and several other countries.  He is married with three children.

Before joining Schneider-Electric, Chris most recently served as Chief Commercial Officer for Unify, a global leader in communications and collaboration technologies.  In this role, Chris managed the full rebranding of the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications to Unify and architected the commercial vision for Project Ansible, a next generation cloud platform for unifying business communications. He’d also served as President of North America and Chief Marketing Officer at Unify.  Previously, Chris served as Executive Vice President of Global Field Marketing for SAP AG, where he managed an organization that annually generated more than 7 billion US-Dollars in qualified opportunities. Prior to SAP, Chris spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation in a number of senior sales, services and marketing roles.



(00:02) Everybody knows that the internet of things is one of the big hot topics today. And on CXOTalk, episode number 91, we’re going to explore the internet of things and we’re going to explore IT and OT and we’re going to learn what OT means and the connection to IT on CXOTalk. And I’m Michael Krigsman, here with Vala Afshar my co-host. Vala how are you?


(00:32) I nearly jumped out of my seat with that intro. I’m doing great and super excited to have one of the smartest CMO’s in any industry and in any geography on the show with us today.


(00:42) Yes we have Chris Hummel, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of Schneider Electric, which is probably one of the largest companies that you are not familiar with their brand name. It’s a huge company, Chris how are you?


(00:58) I’m doing very well. You make it sound that I shouldn’t have a job with that intro.


(01:03) Well you’re a $30 billion company, so I guess there is a lot of work that’s being done at Schneider Electrics and a lot of customers.


(01:13) There is indeed. I mean to give everybody a quick introduction. First of all guys, great to be on the show. Thank you for having me. We are clearly a $25 billion euro if not a $31 – 32 billion US. It’s primarily an industrial company that is focused on doing power management for the last 170 years. But over the last couple of decades we’ve been buying a bunch of companies, building out or portfolio, so it’s really it’s not just a power thing from plant to plug. It’s more now industrial automation.

(01:50) It’s sustainability services. It’s everything from the light switches in your house up to pipeline management. So we’re really transforming into a technology company and I think this is why it’s interesting to talk about things like internet of things, convergence of technologies. What in the world is OT, well we’ll get into that later I guess.


(02:11) So Chris, can you give us a little background information about yourself. For a number of years I was a student of yours, so many of the work that I tried to emulate as a CMO is because I observed you. Rebrand a multi-million dollar company and bring a lot of excitement through digital marketing, so a little bit about your background please.


(02:33) That’s the first time anybody has said they have been a pupil of mine, but as humble, I thank you very much Vala.

(02:39)For those of you who are obviously interested in this, I spent about 25 years in IT and communication. So 13 years with Oracle living all around the world. Actually my first job with Oracle was the first direct sales rep in Kazakhstan, in the former Soviet Union.

(02:59) So lived in Eastern Europe for six – seven years. Moved over to Asia for a while. Came back to the US, went to the SAP, one of our big competitors at the time, which was like going to the dark side, but went to SAP, had a great run there for a couple of years, another great company big IT brand.

(03:17) And eventually, where Vala you and I obviously met was at Siemens Enterprise Communication, where they were clearly going through a restructuring, joined them as the Chief Marketing Officer, got a chance to work with both of the board members there the owners.

(03:34) And eventually we rebranded it one year ago from Siemens Enterprise Communication to Unify. Which from a marketing stand, because obviously one of the pivotal in my career, but a year ago right after that rebrand, I got an offer from Schneider Electrics and to be honest a company I’d never heard of and just realized when looked at the space of what was going on energy. What was going on in sustainability which are important in our lives. And the shifts in technology, I just couldn’t turn it down.


(04:05) So have said a few times that Schneider Electrics is transforming itself into a technology company. Can you elaborate on what do you mean by that?


(04:20) If you think about an industrial company, right. So what we do is we primarily come from the hardware side. Just like you would see the traditional sort of shift from in the IT space where hardware used to be DEK back in the day, IBM all of that were so powerful. Shifted to software then it sort of shifted to solutions and now it’s gone up into cloud. It’s gone off into all kinds of other things and now you know, IT has gone in all kinds of different directions.

(04:50) Well, industrial technology has a much longer life cycle and we’ve kind of gone from that hardware, where we would call it engineering through to now the software and the solutions have become much more critical to what we do.

(05:03) So for example, I bet you didn’t know that Schneider Electrics is roughly the 25th largest software company in (use? 05:14). We’re a billion dollar Software Company.

(05:17) Did you know, we had a $300 million plus software to service business, right? Probably not but this is something that’s happening in the OT space, which stands for Operational Technology, for those of you who wanted to know what the acronym is for operational technology in that space.

(05:36) We are going through that similar kind of migration from hardware centric engineering to now the software of managing the process to know the solutions of integrating it all together, and I thinks that’s part of the ‘why’ I’m here. Part of the ‘why’ they know they were looking for a profile like this, and part of that transformation to really a technology company, that we’ve been undergoing for basically the last 10 years.


(06:05) So massive company products – many products serving global markets, developed markets,emerging markets, how do you the CMO build a culture where you can build a level of customer intimacy that’s required in the hyper-connected, however that we live, with such a massively company like Schneider Electrics.


(06:28) That’s a good question Vala, and you know one way is from a business strategy standpoint we have a very – let’s call it customer centric approach in that we are really trying to be local.

(06:40) Right, we are really trying to focus on speaking in front of a (Unclear 06:44).

(06:44)So a lot of the thing you would think about,septuliizationor consolidation of the manufacturing (unclear audio drifting in and out 06:53)

(06:54) We need to actually built the strategy in order for it to be dispersed. So we have manufacturing facilities all over the world. We have operations all over the world. It’s a historically French company but the US market is our number one market, China number two and France is actually number three.

(07:11) The management team, very international, based in three hubs. Based in Paris in Hong Kong and here in the northeast in the US. So first of all I come into a culture which is very much affects to be global, right? It expects to be in a decentralized collaborative environment. So people are kind of ready for it, so thank you that would be big walking in.

(07:39) ObviouslyI’ve lived in 15 different countries over my career and I was in that mindset. The second thing is coming from the technology world, I think I was a little bit more prepared in leveraging technology to manage my own team. So I’m not actually based in the location where most of my staff is. I stop all over the world and obviously I use all of the natural things we would think of in terms of archaic tools like (TEM? 08:08) and telephone.

(08:11) I’m not quite that social guy that some of you are, but none of the less you know we use videos like a constant infrastructure for us. So we use all of the poly-com systems to kind of get around.

(08:24) And we make the investment in physically meeting. So our management team is the executive committee that I sit on for the company, we meet once a month at least physically right. Even although we are all over the world, we meet once a month and I use with our marketing team, you know, I really try and use those times to develop trust when we are face-to-face, and the we can use all of the remote tools to kind of manage as we go


(08:50) It’s awesome to hear you say, you’re not as social because you are regularly on Twitter, you regularly blog, and you’re a CMO of a $30 billion company, which by the way in my book makes you incredibly social. Because of the peers of yours which are in the Fortune 500 are not blogging regularly and are not on mainstream public social media. So I disagree with you, you are actually quite social


(09:16) But it’s funny you say that right, because when I was at Schneider Enterprise and communication, and I had been there about a year and you know, Unify Communications was going through the whole – social was becoming a key element.

(09:33) Somebody on a blog called me out and me and a couple of other executive and companies and did an audit of how many (unclear 09:39) have we made. And at the time we had done five – never again, never again.


(09:50) Well so you talk a lot about the convergence of IT and OT. Tell us about that and the connections, the relationships to internet of things. So what’s going on with that?


(10:04)So the interestingthing here is you know, operational technology and energy management in particularly and we’re really a global specialist in energy management and efficiency solutions. When you’re talking about energy, your normally talking about recourse management, efficiency tools which you want to use, and to get towards sustainability, right. Sustain operation and better use of resources.

(10:29) But what’s happening now is you have sensor technology going everywhere, which is really now collecting all kinds of new data. You have computing power which is just no longer in the data center but it’s actually a the edge as well. So you have shifts in almost everything that we do.

(10:48) I mean our circuit breakers. Those things that you have in your garage, they are all connected and all part of an infrastructure and network. Then you have the ubiquities or near ubiquities communications and connectivity.

(11:02) But now all of a sudden, you are not just talking about efficiency, you’re talking about the whole possibility of levels of understanding of new capabilities of productivity and efficiency sure, but also new services that you can provide to levels of understanding of your business. You can maximize your (unclear 11:24).

(11:24) So what’s happening, I wrote a blog called the End of IT, which made a lot of people not so happy. But the idea was not so much that IT is ending, it’s the way that IT has been used as a group of IT companies offering IT capabilities is shifting to now where it is to a place like Schneider Electrics that are offering IT capabilities as a core part of moving goods.

(11:51) So what we are seeing is convergence of energy sort of connectivity and IT coming altogether and that really is the power of the Internet of things. And the Internet is the connectivity, well we are the things guys, right. We are the people that go out there and manage all the operational elements. IT is about data storage and manipulation, extraction, analysis. OT is all about taking and changing the state of operations and actually doing things and when you combined the two together, all of a sudden it opens up this whole new world of possibilities, capabilities and whatnot.

(12:37) And so not something that we are clearly going to do all by ourselves, no, we’re going to do this with partnerships. But we see this as an enormous opportunity to bring those two worlds together, play with the kind of partnerships and move forward to add value to our customers.


(12:53) Chris are you seeing a parallel between consumerization of IT and how the industrial infrastructure is becoming more and more connected?


(13:04) You do, I mean you see all of the sexy stuff right, that we were talking before the show of Google glass, Fitbit and all of the kind of stuff that are now kind of getting. The Internet of things and it’s sexy and it gets all of the attention from the consumer space. But really what you are doing is now connecting that back into the core infrastructure.

(13:24) So if you think about your refrigerators can now order stuff, okay, well your refrigerator can order stuff because it goes into a business processing system. It actually impacts the manufacturer, food and beverage or whatever it is to order more food from the supermarket.

(13:44) So the consumer, if you think about is the access point, right. The consumer is kind of elevating the number of access points for the general population. But the real shift in our society, things we have to deal with, the threats that come up in cyber security and all of this kind of stuff, those are all going to happen in the enterprise infrastructure and that’s where we are trying to fight.


(14:09) So what’s the relationship then between IT and the people who are implementing these OT solutions, because clearly the expertise that is required falls outside the bounds of traditional IT departments in many cases.


(14:27) It does and you know, there is two angles of things. First of all, we have some great partnerships with some very good IT and connectivity partners. So people like IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, HP – we have good partnerships with all of those guys, Oracle and many more.

(14:45) What’s happening is that the IT guys come from a different culture. They come from a culture of where availability is something that’s important, but you know 5×9 is okay. Well we come from a world where 5×9 isn’t good enough. Right, they have been going through Moore’s Law in IT where everything has been shrinking, that the physics of electricity going to allow us to get it wired down or get the shrinkage or that kind of stuff, we are dealing with more bog stuff. We are dealing with stuff that kills and we know that electricity is dangerous to manage.

(15:23) So what’s happening is that the guys that are – or even customers of IT that are let’s say that rewarded for innovation, whereas guys in the traditional industrialized OT world are rewarded and we are not changing. So you have got these two cultures that are now coming together that if you want to push innovation forward to more of an IT mentality. But safety, security, reliability are not just ‘want to have’, they are ‘must haves’, at a whole new different level. That you know, you have got this kind of culture clash going between the two and it’s going to require partnerships.

(16:07) IBM can’t build a smarter city all by itself it actually takes someone like Schneider Electrics to get it done and vice versa. So that cultural piece, I think is going to fall back and then the buyers it’s kind of interesting. Because traditionally, the buyers for IT and obviously CIO.

(16:24) CIO hasn’t had that much to do to plant automation. It hasn’t had that much to do in building management, but now all of the sudden you can’t have a building manager that doesn’t understand IT. So the CIO has a risk and an opportunity.

(16:41) The risk is he’s going to be moved out because he is less and he is just doing the ERP and just doing the email. Or now he has an opportunity where now all of the sudden he is not sitting on the fringe of the business, he is sitting right in front of the four operational elements of what makes you know, a food manufacturer a food manufacturer, a telecom operator a telecom operator – he is sitting right in the core of it.

(17:08) So there’s an opportunity for the CIO to actually grow their influences as well.

Vala:    (17:13) So it sounds like if you think about the roles of IT, you have got the core IT and the responsibilities of maintaining the network infrastructure and the systems of the back-office/front office systems. You have got the lines of business that demand on the CIO and the IT. Folks like you and I, digital marketeers who are looking to spend a good healthy portion of our programme spend in marketing on technology. And then you have got the connected operational infrastructure part of the house. Is that where you see the three buckets that will consume the majority of cycles from IT and the CIO.


(17:53) Probably, I mean certainly you know there is going to be the continually the infrastructure of IT and the transactional systems right. Then there is now what is being called the kind of systems of engagement if you want to go down Jeff Moore’s angle.

(18:10) The engagement of technologies and now, you are into not just transactions you are into interactions right, and trying to manage that and that is where big data comes in. Okay, well here’s an interesting challenge for you right.

(18:22) When you think about the big data in the marketing side, it is because we are now looking at the volume of interactions, and the number of transactions that you did. Because for every transaction there is multiple interactions. Well now, start thinking about something like a crane. So let’s imagine Shanghai where there is one of these big cranes, putting up one of these massive skyscrapers. There is a data center that is actually sitting in that crane. So we have actually built a data center into – why? Because the number of computations that needs to be handled to be managed wind speed, velocity, weight, height above sea level, gravity, shift, angle – whatever it is – load, all of those kind of things. And they have to be repeated constantly in milliseconds to manage appropriately for safety, reliability, performance, asset, life cycle – all of that kind of stuff.

(19:19) You know, the volume of information that is now going to be spit out from these sensors about operational data – wow, that’s unbelievable. So now all of a sudden a traditional CIO comes in and goes, yes, I can take that on. Or do we now actually have enough to build even more specialization of data science technology and goes down that whole real specialization angle on big data.       

(19:49) In fact coming back to the question if I can about IT and OT, one of the interesting let’s say market – I don’t want to see battles, but let’s say market questions that is out there is, who is going to manage the operational data?

(20:05) Transactional data, we know that it is a kind of a CIO who is generally managing. Who is going to manage the operational data? Are they going to come from the IT side, or is it going to come from the operational side? Because all of that stuff that we talked about of the crane for example in Shanghai, that is spitting out all of this operational data. And how do you manage the safety to make sure the system is in safe mode – these are big questions for IT guys, marketing guys, operational guys.

(20:38) Anybody who is looking at a broad spectrum of technology, these are big questions.


(20:41) But Chris, because these questions exist, and you are kind of sitting in the middle of it, don’t you have to help guide your customers to address these issues? Are you in position of having to do that?


(20:57) We do and you know it’s something we have seen as a bit of a gap in the industry in general. And so we talk about efficiency savings, building resource sustainability, and we’ve started to really focus on our service offerings, our consulting offerings in fact.

(21:17) You know, a while agowe bought a company called Summit Energy which did exactly this right, were consulting in these kind of energy areas and we now call it energy sustainability services, but it is because our customers kept telling us, look you can’t look at this just from the technology side anymore. It’s great that you understand everything that you are doing and you are very localized. You have all of the vertical knowledge, because we specialize in our business opportunity and it is specialized by industry verticals, that very tightly because we need to know how they operate. They are saying you are going to come and help us.

(21:51) Right, you’re going to come and help us and pull together multiple pieces and it’s not all going to be Schneider Electrics Technology. We want to use other people’s technology for certain things to. And you need to help us with the best practice and guidance in how to do it and you know, we are building up and we’ve created a whole new division around this called, our global solutions division.

(22:12) It’s one of the five divisions in the company and we are building up – I’ll admit it. We are growing it and it’s growing very fast and it’s probably one of the biggest requirements that our customers are telling us right to our face, and we need to develop even faster.


(22:27) Your customers include correct me if I’m wrong, I’m assuming the CIOs as well as the operational technology managers at the same time


(22:39) That’s correct. We goes of the operational guys sort of more historically, but particularly over the last few years as a software and a platform has become more important. And the CIO has become a much bigger buyer for us.


(22:54) 40% of CIOs report to CFO’s, so when it comes to sustainability, operational efficiency and security availability, I suspect you have a captive audience with CFO’s as well.


(23:05) Well we are getting there right, but what’s happened is we’ve sort of bin as we have started the program right, who is the CMO of Schneider Electrics – wellfire that guy right, because he’s never heard of him. Well, you know part of it is that name recognition we don’t necessarily have. And even from a marketing side, right.

(23:22) So let me turn the conversation to marketing for a second Vala since you went there.

(23:25) We had about 100 something brands if you years ago. And we have now actually brought it down to about 40, so you may have heard of a company like APC – American Power Conversion okay, that’s us, right. In the US if you are an electrical contractor and when I was interfering for the job, I asked my guy Nick, and said Hey Nick, have you ever heard of Schneider Electrics? He goes no. I said did you ever hear of Square D, he says sure of course. Square D is us.

(24:02) If you are in Australia and you go under Cliftsol, 95% of the population knows issue as them about Schneider Electrics and less than 5% know about it. But it is the same thing. It is the same company, you know but it is like a confectionery company, that we have different brands for different markets, and different segments.

(24:19) But some of the challenge now is that at the higher end you know, all of the retail stuff that is probably okay because it is more of a distribution product business. But at the higher end of the market, and we have companies that deal with hundreds and millions of dollars of business with us, they are actually saying wait a minute. Why are you integrating the APC – it’s like the same company, they say well, put it under the same brand and tell us it’s the same company.

(24:47) You know, we want best practice’s – yes we want best in class products and all of that, but actually to offer that cross sale and the solution offering. As a marketer, I need to figure out APC has got a very strong reputation in data, power management and all of that.

(25:06) If I move them to Schneider Electrics, you know is that the right thing to do and am I going to lose equity, brand equity or am I not. So these are really a lot of the challenges that we are facing that means you’re not necessarily going to see Schneider Electrics that you face all of the time. But it is a very complex marketing challenge and that is part of that why I took on this.


(25:23) That is unbelievable. Think about it Michael, you have 40 distinct brands, and the two that you just mentioned – strong brands, under one on brand. That is what a total of war. That’s the easy.


(25:42) You’re over $30 billion in revenue company, with all of these brands and yet the main brand is kind of hidden. So as a marketer, what are you doing about that, and what is your goal with it?


(26:04) Assuming with technology we have got a global audience as well right, you go to France and obviously more people are going to know us historically. We have been a French company and I will argue that we are one of the most global companies I have ever seen.

(26:18) You go to China and we have a stronger reputation. You go to Germany and you know was under some different names right, Merton and Alcode. You go to Australia like I said Clipsol and Scandinavia it’s different.

(26:29) So what we are doing is some of those brands are what we call associated brands. So actually APC buy Schneider Electrics. So if you buy an APC product, you see the connection to Schneider Electrics. Others you don’t necessarily know because they are indiscreet markets, so they are very specific products and we kind of leave them out there.

(26:50) well, with the endorsed brand, the first thing I need to do is before I would even talk about any shift in the brand architecture, I need to grow the master brand. So as an marketer, my first challenge talking with Jean Pascal, my CEO is that we have got to raise the tide of the master brand. And that will raise everything. And then that will give us options, because once we raise the recognition of the master brand, we can talk about some of those other brands and we increase the endorsement or the Association, or whether we migrate or whatever we do. But for now, it’s not even a conversation.

(27:27) And the first thing I need to do in terms of raising the master brand is, well what does it stand for? Again, like I sort of eluded to for the last 10 years we have been very assertive about building out our technology portfolio, building out our geographic presence. We’ve doubled in size over the last decade and had you know for the last 10 years had over €10 billion in acquisitions.

(27:58) Now we have just sort of we think we have is assembled the company. We have assembled our portfolios, so we couldn’t really invest in the story when it was changing. A good example would be in January, we completed the acquisitions of a company called, Invensis. And in fact Invensis was actually a number of other brands that were put together very strongly – Foxbro, wonderwear, Trickonics – very strong brands in their own right. And so that added a whole new element to us of software because it raised our software revenue significantly. But also the process automation, where we had been in sort of discrete manufacturing automation.

(28:45) So how could I tell the story about industrial automation when I had the discrete, but when I knew the process was coming or eventually would come. So now we feel like we have kind of reached the boundaries of something that is a little more complete, stable, offers the right differentiated portfolio for our customers, a mix of OT/IT.

(29:05) Now I can start telling the story and so what we have been really focused on in my first year is obviously I have to get to understand the business, and make sure that all the trucks are running on time, and these trains are operating and you know what in the background is going on.

(29:20) But also really preparing for I think in 2015, where you will start to see us raise the profile of that company story. Raise that you know kind of all of Schneider Electrics story that allows us to really touch along you know the industrial automation. The energy management that we do with utilities and customers. Buildings management, you know data centers and so on.

(29:48) That will allow us to actually combined all of those things into one coherent story, which again if you are a marketing guy looking for a challenge it is a great story to try and avoid. How do you pull all of that together and you know tell me a year from now, we’ll get back together on the show and you guys can tell me whether I was successful or not.


(30:09) I’d love that. I’m thinking as you are talking about these challenges how much fun you are having, because just knowing you I know that it is in your DNA to tackle tough problems. So I applaud you for that, but I am not surprised that you are taking on a Herculean task as you are. Now, one of the things that you talked about in terms of defining the master brand, or what matters to you, you know you wrote an incredibly insightful blog about the importance of sustainability. And you linked sustainability to profit, but in the blog you talked about the pretension that exists between population density, consumption density, and the impact on the environment. But you included metrics in terms of the importance of retail, customer loyalty and even rental space efficiency and sustainable buildings.

            So can you talk to us a little bit about what clearly is something that you are passionate about and that being sustainability?


(31:02) So you know sustainability is in some ways have gotten a bad rap as its green. It’s good to be green, okay well great. It is good to be green and if I can put in a little plug, we’ve recently won an award to box energy award for our own consumption of energy in efficiency entirely.

(31:33) So we are kind of eating our one medicine. We are taking our own medicine internally and not just as a supplier. It is critical, we are a big company and big infrastructure all around the world and real Estates costs, power management, energy consumption – all critical factors for us. But, when you start to look at sustainability more in a – let’s call it a rational or financial kind of approach you start to look at, well there’s two things.

(31:53) There is the long term which in economics and accounting one-on-one which teaches you assumable sustainable enterprise. Assume this is an ongoing concern. Well, we can’t always assume that now a days. We can’t always assume that not as a society, because you have got things going on. You know, urbanization and industrialization, digitization – these are all great things that are enriching our lives, yet they are vastly increasing the amount of demand on energy.

(32:23)We are all running 24 hours a day on our mobile phones, devices and all of these kind of things. My number one battle every day is not with my customers, it is with my phone and make sure it is charged all of the time right, so I can reconnect it. How many times do I try to charge in a day, well okay that is an always on world putting a strain on technology and on batteries and all of that kind of stuff.

(32:48) So we have to find a way to manage our insatiable appetite for energy with these great things that are enriching our lives. You know, more than 50% of the population in the next – I don’t know what it is, 40 – 50 years maybe or even faster than that, will live in cities. Right, you know our demand for energy is going to double over the next 40 years.

(33:11) So there is a long-term element of this. This is not about whether I believe in the melting ice caps or anything like that. I mean this is a very practical concern over – you can see a resource crunch, you can see the financial elements of it.

(33:26) But the second piece of it, which is much more practical and much more today you mentioned the idea of rental. Well, if I can manage space better and I can use my dead space better by managing my air conditioning environment, my power, my building security – all of these kind of things. If I can start to do that without big bulky machinery, but do it more through sensors. If I can consolidate locations and whatnot, by managing all of my assets correctly by doing things like watching the pattern of usage on the floor.

(34:06) So in our headquarters in France, we actually have what we call the international customer lounge. It has a screen there that shows the usage of energy in the building. And what it does is it actually watches the dead spaces in the building, and turns down the heating or turns up the heating or air conditioning or whatever based on the usage of the building.

(34:27) And when you do that over time you know, short-term it saves me some money just like a smart thermostat. But over time I can actually identify areas of the building that I’m not using, and I can put them to other uses. I can use them as storage. I can put more office space in there. I can see what the key requirements would be for the building, and not just through badges, but actually by watching them, the movement of the people and then you get into all kinds of questions about security and privacy and all of these kind of things that we need to manage appropriately as well.

(35:02) But if you really think about squeezing out more efficiency that has a correlation to who we are and our profit and all of that. And also to add another element to this is the millennial’s.

(35:21) We are a company that is trying to bring on a population of workers, and I can’t pretend that we are a young guy any more. I’m already passed that midpoint. But as we bring on these people, you know or so I am told I am guess from my kids tell me, even they are too young. But working for a company that they feel is invested and not just in them, and not just in financial success. But in sort of a rational way, the society is good as well, is an attractive element.

(35:55) So if you look at it in practical terms, we have to hire thousands and thousands of people each year and if we can show them that we are doing good things for ourselves, good things for our customers, good from the bottom line. You know, being green can be good for business to and we sort of look at this in a very practical term and I try to do a little research before writing that blog of not just to pick a pure financial angle, but take a customer engagement angle. Take an angle on long-term ability.

(36:30) There are so many overwhelming factors, and the bottom line is being efficient is good for every purpose.


(36:36) We have a question from Twitter from Holgar Muller, who is a great analyst, and he is wondering about and it is a remark going back to marketing. He’s wondering, as you start centralizing the brand, will happens to the local purchasing decisions. So how do you manage the tension between the central larger global brand and the local brands as you try to consolidate and make sense of it all?


(37:07) So this is scary. Holgar is another ex-colleague of mine. I feel that I am really holding out from all of these people.

(37:18) I didn’t see the centralization of the brand, so to be absolutely clear in what I said was I want to raise the visibility of the master brand. By raising the visibility of the master brand that will in essence also increase the visibility of all the associated brands, and then it gives us options on what we want to do three, four, five, six years down the line.

(37:46) I’ve been around this enough to know that to build a master brand across the world, when we operate in over 100 countries, a company this diverse of this size has taken me years to build a master brand. So I’m not even you know, focused too much on centralization per se. It’s really just can I get more people to know who I am, and can I get the people to know who I am, not just know me through one angle but know all of what I do.

(38:16) Those are the two things I’m trying to accomplish. They may sound simple but they are pretty hard to do, but more reach and more depth. Those are the only two things that I really maniacally focus on every moment of every day.


(38:20) So you must be really focused and you know, I hate to use it because it sounds like such a buzzword nowadays, but digital marketing and digital business transformation. The way you scale the voice of your brand, for example through social and mobile and apps like you know, most enterprise will eventually have their own app store. And we’ve already talked about big data, so talk to us a little bit about building the master brand and what that really means in terms of digital marketing.


(39:03) One of the interesting debates inside Schneider Electrics is, do we talk about digital marketing or do we just talk about marketing? And it was interesting because when I walked in we talked a lot about digital marketing, and it was a group focused on digital marketing. And I said, yeah there is a group on digital marketing, it’s called marketing.

(39:22) in fact, the default answer has to be online, right? The default and so has to be the digital not analog. Now that stuck to say, and I’ll be very honest we still spend a lot of money on events. We still spend a lot of money even on print. There are countries that low and behold still want print catalogues, right. They won the old Sears catalogue and they want catalogues of our products sent out to them. And they are not quite there, so we could force them onto digital but we also have to be responsive to our customers and that kind of thing.

(40:02) We do a lot of third-party tradeshows still, because in how industry there are still – or parts of our industry that is an important factor for getting more into branded activity, and more into branding our own events, private events or whatever you want to call them.

(40:19)And certainly you seen that just over the last year a real uptick in our digital marketing. You know, you have seen some of the social marketing, up a little bit. And you’ve seen some of the sort of things, and I’ll be honest we are experimenting.

(40:40)This is not a maniacal total control thing. This is actually trying to get everybody into to do and to do it organically. You try some things, even as a CMO I may be cringed at a little in terms of the content to whatever. But we wanted to experiment to see whether this was something that would generate traffic. And then could return the traffic into demand or not. And I had to you know, hold on a little bit and say no, that’s not very corporate, that’s not very enterprise. But you know, sort of let it go through and covered my eyes and hope that nobody would come after me.

(41:22) But it’s worse, because it has shown us some things that work, don’t work. And again we have a lot of engineers, long life cycles of products – all of those kind of things from history. So, this digital world, the pace it works at it is a cultural challenge for us.

(41:41) So there are two things that we have done. One, we show them that it works, right. So now we are not trying to do the big overall re-brand that I did at Unify and that kind of thing. It’s really trying to put stuff to the market now and in 2015 will see a lot more in the market that we are. And just get stuff out and through that, and build on that.

(42:03)But the other thing that we’ve done and we have a real focus on on our own people, is that we’ve made the internal transformation first. So we actually have a community of internal social community, where people blog, have collaboration spaces, and work on that and we have got a drive system that we call Spice

(42:26)Internally, it is by the mass of the population and the executive are more comfortable going onto Spice and posting and putting all these kind of things than they are actually. So what we have done is actually use that internal transformation first to say look, it’s not bad, it doesn’t hurt or whatever. And now we are starting to shift a lot of energy potential externally.

(42:56) You know, we have a long way to go in that transformation but I’m really excited about the steps that we have taken so far.


(43:02) Michael, how many multibillion-dollar, in this case $30 billion CMO’s who are on Google hangout live, blog, and engage on Twitter I mean you could probably count a few on one hand, Jonathan Becker of SAP, Chris Hummel of Schneider Electrics. I’m telling you, you are living digital proof and you are doing it, so kudos to you.

(43:23) There are not too many CMO’s or companies of your size that are actually doing what they say in what the company needs to do and leading by example. So we appreciate that.


(43:35) We’re almost out of time, and maybe before we end share with us some of the challenges and lessons that you have learned that other CMO’s that are watching might take away.


(43:49) Well the first thing is you have got to be okay to fail. You are going to have a few bombs there right. You are going to write a couple of blogs that nobody listens to, nobody watches. It’s hard. Most of us are introverts as a sort of a DNA and we crave attention and if your followership is not going up, it doesn’t mean that people don’t love you.

(44:22) You have to work at it, you have to be be afraid to fail and you have to fail fast to move forward. You have to be consistent. One of the things that I beat myself up about is I love to write blogs. I’ve got so much I feel that I want to say and all of that, but I’m just not doing it regularly enough. It’s not that I’m paying the price, but I certainly could be even more present if I was active about it you know.

(44:49) If I was writing a weekly blog I would get more attention on it, because you get the network effect and I probably write a couple of weeks or whatever. So if you are going to do it you better commit. You have got to commit to it.

(45:09) And the other thing which is a big jump for people is that at a time when budget pressure is constantly coming in and marketing is being challenged in what I call it, the definitional crisis. What is marketing versus sales versus what is IT.

(45:25)You know when the buying process is shifting online and before the sale, is that good for marketing or does that mean that the sales are going to knock marketing off another way? I don’t know the answer to that and in some cases it’s different. But you have got to be committed to the fact that the buyer is no longer allows you to control their journey. That you have to actually map the thing, and you have to just keep presence where they are, and we have never had the tools to be able to do that before.

(45:55) So I made peace with that, and I wrapped my ego in a way that I couldn’t convince millions of people to do it in the way that I wanted them to do. And instead said I’m going to give myself in and I’m going to try and map where they want me to be. And I think that if you can get the psychology of my fellows out there, you know I think that’s one of the first things that you just have to psychologically get over.


(46:22) So pay attention and listen to the empowered consumer and recognise that they are the bosses


(46:30) That’s right


(46:31) Control is an illusion.


(46:33) And it’s true in business to business as much as it is in business to consumer.


(46:39) That was awesome advice, like that was tremendous advice to marketeers. I hope you’re watching and that was great advice by Chris. It’s true, but it does require a level of discipline and procession in marketing, unless you can have practice of market segmentation, account segmentation, and buyer segmentation. Understand the personas and then build the buyers process map. It is tough to deliver that relevant message at the right time across the right channels, to the right audience. It just requires a tremendous amount of discipline. It’s not easy and for 41 brands good luck to you! Why don’t you have enough time to blog!


(47:23) I’m going to talk to some people here. Maybe we will consolidate our brands just so I can become a social guy.


(47:30) I’m just wondering how many hours a day to sleep, it should be a lot like two.


(47:36) Well unfortunately we are just out of time and I want to thank Chris Hummel, who is the chief marketing officer of Schneider Electrics for joining us today.


(47:47) Chris you are awesome, and thank you for dropping all of that science on us in 45 minutes. Really appreciate it


(47:51) Well thank you guys, appreciate the invitation and appreciate your time.


(47:56) And come back again and we will be off for two weeks and our next guest at the beginning of January is going to be the CMO of Adobe. So we are going to from infrastructure to graphics in two weeks. And I hope everybody has a wonderful holiday. Vala, as always it’s pleasure to see you, happy holiday. And we’ll see everybody on the other side. Hope you have a great weekend. Bye bye.

Companies mention on today’s show:

Schneider Electric:                                                       



Unify (Formally Siemens Enterprise Communication):






Summit Energy:                                                           

American Power Conversion (APC):                          

Published Date: Dec 19, 2014

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 91