At the seminar “Innovation, convergence of approaches” co-organized by INOVA and  Alma Consulting Group, Xavier Bonnaud, Innovation Manager of the “Services Industrie” Department at Schneider Electric, has presented some aspects of their innovation policy. The team of PRESANS was there to collect their feedback.

“My 3 convictions”

Xavier Bonnaud, in office since 1997, Schneider began by introducing his three convictions about innovation:

Innovation is needed: innovation is not just a fad, it is a necessary condition for the survival of a company. A company that does not innovate dies.

Collective Intelligence: by comparison with Web 2.0 (where readers are also contributors) that is much richer than Web 1.0 (where readers and contributors are distinct), Xavier shows that the so-called collaborative innovation, involving various and complementary people is much richer than innovation generated by a group of people having the same profile.

Managerial involvement: to motivate employees to submit (innovating) ideas, it is important that the company sets up a range of incentives, which can be money, recognition from the top management etc.

Collaborative Innovation at Schneider Electric

Innovation by the sales force

Since 2008, Xavier Bonnaud has implemented a strategy of collaborative innovation. He has introduced the “Challenge Solution”, a concept that can boost innovation through the sales force. Through the web platform that he has put in place, their sales force can suggest ideas collected directly from customers of Schneider. In return, any salesman can win a financial reward and the privilege to meet the top management if their idea is selected.

This first “Challenge Solution” was a significant success:

  • 1400 registrations from unsolicited salesmen,
  • 221 submitted ideas,
  • 52 very good and promising ideas
  • and 8 gold mines!

Xavier Bonnaud wants to systematize this approach.

Innovation by the customer

In line with Social CRM, Schneider Electric has also recently established the “Schneider Innovation Lab”, a b2b  social network for their customers, allowing them to develop their relationship with their customers.

Open Innovation at Schneider Electric

Open Innovation is not yet completely part of  Schneider’s DNA (and actually the concept of Open Innovation is reduced to that of online problem solving & crowdsourcing, while the subject is much broader), they are nevertheless also testing various solutions.


No risk equals no innovation – Mathias Lamien (Boost Patents Initiative Project leader, Schneider Electric)

In conclusion, Schneider experiments a lot. Schneider takes risks. And so Schneider innovates. Schneider innovates in its way of innovating.