2023 Integrated Annual Report

Innovation and sustainability



Peter Herweck, CEO of Schneider Electric, and Aiman Ezzat, exchanged views at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2024.

When combined, environmental responsibility and technological innovation have the power to drive cutting-edge advances. This synergy not only addresses environmental challenges: it improves economic and social well-being, marking a decisive shift towards a more resilient future. As long-standing partners, Schneider Electric and Capgemini are working together to explore the many benefits of this high value-creating duality. But how can it be aligned with business strategies and how to measure progress? Peter Herweck, CEO of Schneider Electric, and Aiman Ezzat, exchanged views at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2024.

How do you see the relationship between sustainability and digital transformation in the business landscape?

PETER HERWECK: Sustainability impacts the entire company, and it equals going electric plus digitalization. To start improving, companies need to begin with a transparent assessment of their electric and water consumptions, and carbon footprint. Then, modern technologies come in: 80% of all CO2 emissions are energy-related, and there are technologies available that can reduce these emissions by 70%. So, there’s no reason to wait.

AIMAN EZZAT: Digital and sustainability transformation are intertwined. By leveraging digital in their operations, from product development to manufacturing and operations, businesses can leverage vast amounts of data and become insights-driven in real time, thus creating opportunities for more efficient, resilient, and sustainable business models. In the end, the two transformations feed off each other and share similarities: the scale of the change they entail, their impact on corporate business models, the large number of stakeholders involved, the necessity to work in ecosystems, and, of course the need to act quickly!

Given the growing importance attached to sustainability targets, how do you deal with the differences in levels of awareness, motivation, and investment between companies?

A. E.: Constant education and awareness is required to embark stakeholders on the right path, at the right pace. For example, two years ago, we set up a sustainability campus within Capgemini, and trained all our 340,000 employees to understand the challenge. This type of initiative could be a model, as the imperatives are the same for everyone. We are today at a crossroads and there is willingness to act. Over the past two years, we have witnessed a profound change, as sustainability is no longer perceived as a cost, but as a business case and a business benefit(1).

As sustainability becomes a critical aspect of business strategy, what initiatives do you undertake to align shareholder returns with stakeholder expectations for sustainability?

P. H.: These dimensions are no longer contradictory, and we have many concrete examples to put forward to prove that this is, above all, an approach that makes good business sense. Whatever the sector, a more sustainable model can be implemented with a return on investment in two or three years. In France, for example, a 600-year-old hotel began to monitor its energy consumption, room by room, hour by hour. In one year, the deployment of technology to measure and manage energy consumption led to a 15% reduction. In Singapore, a global biopharmaceutical company digitized its production to understand its energy expenditure, then installed solar panels on the roofs and started producing its own energy, so that by the end of the project it had achieved net zero. So, it is not just a question of saving the planet, but of creating a new sustainable business model, while generating financial benefits in the very short term.