July 30, 2019

A Harvard Business Publishing Case Study: Qmerit and Schneider Electric Partner to Increase Innovation


2 Min. Read

Schneider Electric, a French multinational corporation, entered the electricity market just after WWI and has constantly reimagined its business over the years in order to stay relevant and successful.

During that time, Schneider has evolved into an electrical, energy management, automation and controls multinational with a presence in more than 100 countries and a workforce of more than 142,000 people. Since large companies are typically less proficient at innovation, Schneider Electric decided to put forth a special effort to stay agile and nimble.

A partnership with Qmerit successfully accomplished that goal by opening up a new market. In fact, the venture was so successful for both companies that Qmerit received a particular call-out in a case study about Schneider Electric published in the Harvard Business School Review.

Read on to find out more about what the partnership accomplished, while previewing highlights from the Harvard Business School Review case study.

A Focus on innovation

In 2018, Emmanuel Lagarrigue, the Executive Vice President of Strategy for Schneider Electric, decided that a focus on “innovation at the edge” was crucial for the future success of the company.  These types of transformational projects are also called Horizon 3 because they challenge existing business models and implement new tech.

Horizon 3 innovations are becoming more relevant to our future. Our new innovation structure should address these opportunities to have Schneider Electric ready for this future. – Emmanuel Lagarrigue

A Partnership with Qmerit 

Lagarrigue was particularly interested in working with start-ups as his team developed Horizon 3 projects. Heriberto Diarte, the head of Innovation @TheEdge, which is Schneider’s internal innovation engine, scouted five relevant start-ups and of those five, Qmerit sparked major interest within Schneider.

We are guided by a simple yet powerful idea: leverage the creativity and skills of the world outside Schneider to help us innovate. We do this through harnessing the best talent, ideas and technology from inside and outside. – Heriberto Diarte, Head of Innovation @TheEdge

Why Qmerit?

Qmerit was originally founded to address the dearth of qualified skilled labor resources in the building trades, and then expanded to include materials for maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO), the second highest cost after labor. Qmerit’s solutions for the building industry made them a partner uniquely suited to open new markets for Schneider Electric.

Qmerit was particularly appealing for a number of reasons:

  • The Qmerit Contribution Index (QCI) tool provided an objective solution to use skillsets and scores to choose the best contractors to retrofit and maintain buildings, including doing electrical work.
  • Qmerit had developed an MRO marketplace to give contractors the best price. Qmerit’s ability to reach small and midsize companies, who normally had the least ability to negotiate prices, gave the company access to up to 70% of the contractor market.
  • Due to the previous two factors, Qmerit had been selected to provide an Energy Efficiency Marketplace for the state of California. This was a significant market for Schneider Electric since California is home to over 600,000 buildings, including over 50,000 government buildings that needed to become much more energy efficient. Qmerit could offer smaller contractors a kit of Schneider products through its marketplace for energy efficiency upgrades of the buildings as well as the required training, thus providing Schneider access to a market that it would not be able to otherwise penetrate.

Want to know more about how two innovative, forward-thinking companies partnered to disrupt the energy marketplace?

Download the full case study from the Harvard Business School review.