Schneider Electric uses data excellence framework to enable data strategy success – presented by Roberto Maranca, VP, Data Excellence, Schneider Electric

Roberto’s insights into driving culture change will help you to:

  • Create a superstructure upon which you can build data-centric culture
  • Evangelise data by adding simple communication tricks to your daily toolkit
  • Overcome the challenge of silos by approaching them as tribes

Culture has been a frequent topic covered in Data Leaders sessions over the past 18 months, and it has been fundamental to digital transformation at Schneider Electric. Schneider are a huge company, with over 140,000 employees around the world, but the data team represent just 0.06% of the company.

Data is often regarded as the ‘new oil’, but in reality it’s the ‘new fusion’. It’s a technology that is truly transformational, but we’re still at an early stage of the journey. To truly master the data challenge, we must master the cultural issues surrounding it.

We’re all tremendously excited by the new technologies that are emerging in the 4th industrial revolution, but we’re pushing against psychological issues that are thousands of years old, with fears, anxieties and alienation all factors that may undermine our attempts to transform.

Buying something is always an emotional experience, and that cannot be repeated often enough. Humans simply must be at the center, and the most successful companies are those who are able to connect their people with data, process and technology. It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that Gartner repeatedly

cite cultural resistance as the main obstacle to data strategy implementation.

While many often refer to silos in their organisation, Roberto argues that culture is largely about tribes. Humans have always gathered in tribes, where we establish customs, beliefs, habits and ideas. This is important because data inherently flows throughout the business.

Changing Culture

The first step in changing culture is to agree on principles. These are the superstructure upon which you can rebuild yourself.
At Schneider, they have five core principles that underpin the business:

Governance – so that governing bodies are empowered to make the right decisions related to data
Standardization – so that ambiguity is reduced and transparency increased
Ethics – so that data is sourced, processed and shared in a responsible manner
Compliance – so that all data-related laws and regulations are complied with
Resilience – so that rapid internal and external changes are responded to adequately.
The next step is to communicate effectively. This goes far beyond simply sending an email to all employees, and more towards creating a media campaign to help win hearts and minds. The process involves first creating an epic story to evangelize the message of data. This can involve workshops, roadshows and influencers. It then requires engagement to be sustained to

try and ensure change is embedded in the day-to-day habits of employees. Gamification can be a crucial tool to deploy at this stage. This feeds into the final stage where engagement is measured and a constant cycle of improvement is entered into.

At Schneider, they used the metaphor of a marathon to communicate that no one would enter a marathon without training, so we must also train to become data literate.

Complexity is growing at many organizations today, and complexity can easily coincide with bad change. A good metaphor is to try and act like a virus, infiltrating every possible process and department. It’s a case of changing how we change. This requires shifting from a project approach to more of a data products approach.

Legacy systems and processes are a major barrier to change, and this can help to develop a ‘data debt’, which emerges as a result of longstanding neglect of data. It’s only when you tackle this data debt that you can transition towards being a data-driven organization.

Schneider aims to reach a state whereby they can measure quantifiably where they are in terms of strategy. It requires the digitization of human knowledge and create a corporate memory that gives you understanding and ability to power the business.

It’s only by understanding who we are as businesses that we can truly embark upon change, and so culture is absolutely fundamental.


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