44 min read

🎧 #098: Louise Monger on Schneider Electric's approach to digital buildings

“I read a great quote last night, 'Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.'"

—Louise Monger

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Episode 98 is a conversation with Louise Monger, Vice President of Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric.


We talked about Louise’s unicorn-like career, which started as an electrician and moved through roles in facility management, property management, and more before her role at Schneider. I loved hearing her advice to other women working in the smart buildings industry.

Then we dove into Louise’s perspective and Schneider Electric’s approach to sustainability, open systems, the MSI role, the independent data layer, and engaging with the startup ecosystem.

So without further ado, please the Nexus Podcast with Louise Monger.

  1. Schneider Electric (0:36)
  2. AMP Capital (8:04)
  3. AMP Capital's Data-Driven Maintenance Program (32:34)
  4. SE: Ultra (33:38)
  5. EcoStruxure Building Graph (1:01:04)
  6. Pivot Podcast (1:02:20)
  7. WeCrashed (1:02:52)
  8. Section4 (1:03:48)

You can find Louise on LinkedIn.



  • Louise’s background (2:10)
  • What Louise has learned coming from the client side to vendor side (24:41)
  • Trends in real estate technology (29:20)
  • ‘Open’ systems and SE’s approach (44:13)
  • Role of the MSI and SE’s approach (49:04)
  • Software partnerships and SE’s approach (56:26)
  • Building Graph: Schneider’s IDL product (1:01:04)

Music credit: Dream Big by Audiobinger—licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Full transcript

Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!

[00:00:03] James Dice: hello friends, welcome to the nexus podcast. I'm your host James dice each week. I fire questions that the leaders of the smart buildings industry to try to figure out where we're headed and how we can get there faster without all the marketing fluff. I'm pushing my learning to the limit. And I'm so glad to have you here following along.

[00:00:31] James Dice: This episode is a conversation with Luis monger vice-president of digital buildings at Schneider electric. We talked about Luis's unicorn like career, which started as an electrician and moved through roles and facility management, property management, and more before her role at Schneider. I loved hearing her advice to other women working in the smart buildings industry.

Then we dove into Luis's perspective and Schneider Electric's approach to sustainability, open systems, the MSI role, the independent data layer. And [00:01:00] finally engaging with the startup ecosystem. So without further ado, please enjoy the nexus podcast with Louis monger. Well, Louise, welcome to the show. I'm so excited to have you on, can you start by

[00:01:12] Louise Monger: introducing yourself? Hi James. Well, thanks for having me. My name is Louise manga. I'm the vice president for digital buildings at Schneider electric in the Pacific zone.

[00:01:23] James Dice: All right. And

[00:01:24] Louise Monger: where are you located? So I'm based in Sydney.

Um, I'm, I've been in Sydney for 15 years. I'm a Perth girl, so bought in Western Australia, um, and moved to Sydney after, uh, after a stint in London. So have moved about.

[00:01:41] James Dice: Okay. And what does the, your, your region at Schneider, what does that include?

[00:01:47] Louise Monger: Yep. So vice president, uh, digital building. So digital buildings, uh, is a digital and automation and technology partner, um, in the built environment.

So we service customers in real estate, in [00:02:00] healthcare, in data centers, in infrastructure, like train stations and airports.

[00:02:05] James Dice: And what countries, what regions of the world does that

[00:02:08] Louise Monger: include? Australia? New Zealand. Got it.

[00:02:10] James Dice: Okay. Awesome. So you have a. Well, I would call an interesting background, especially in our industry.

Um, I'd love to hear you take us through how you got to this point, uh, back back to the beginning,

[00:02:24] Louise Monger: if you would share. Yeah, yeah. Not by design. So I didn't definitely did not start out with this, in mind. When I was 15. We, my family moved to Newman, which is in the Pilbara in Western Australia. So it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, if you like in the middle of the state, it's a 12 hour drive from Perth, which is the nearest big city and a four hour drive from the coast.

Um, it's a mining town. I in all mining BHP is the, is the major mining there. And, um, I went to finished high school there and in a mining town, everyone [00:03:00] wants to. And apprenticeship with BHP. That's what they do. So I quickly pivoted by a career ambitions from going to university to, uh, wanting to get an apprenticeship.

And, uh, I chose electrical because that was what the smart kids went for and was successful in getting an electrical apprenticeship. I had no idea at that point, what an electrician did. Like I really was extremely naive. I had never done manual arts at school. I had never used tools. Um, and I think at that point, BHP was you know, early in its diversity, ambitions and, , saw the benefit of bringing women into that workforce.

Probably a little bit unprepared to be completely honest, uh, for having women in that environment. But, I started my apprenticeship when I was 17 and spent five years working for, for BHP in an iron ore, mine, which was, Good experience. I guess I took a lot of skills out of that, but it was, , you know, challenging beyond [00:04:00] belief.

And I think that I built, , a huge amount of resilience in that five-year period that has served me well for my entire career, because I figured if I can get through that and learn that and navigate, , that environment, not just physically demanding, but also the social aspect of that work environment.

, you know, everything else is a piece of cake.

[00:04:23] James Dice: Yeah. Yeah. Do you still draw back on different stories and learnings from, from that time? Um,

[00:04:29] Louise Monger: yeah. And particularly around the. The diversity aspect and the inclusion aspect of diversity, because, you know, that was really diversity without inclusion. If you like, let's bring women in without really thinking how we integrate women into this workforce in a, in a, in a good way.

So, you know, as a result, I had people tell me to my face that apprenticeships were wasted on girls, that it should have gone to a boy that you don't, you know, women don't stick with a trade,[00:05:00] and you know, quiet, full on, , opinions thrown at me that, , you know, you just wouldn't hear in a workplace in, in today's environment.

, so yeah, the inclusion piece wasn't there. I think as a result of that, , that meant I didn't stay with my trade as long as what I could have. So I worked as an electrician for. Three or four years post-trade I went to London and did a stint as a, as a Sparky in, , in London. And that was my first exposure to real estate and building systems.

I went from mining. I was working in doing building maintenance, , on facility management contracts. , basically back in the day, then you had, you know, every trade sitting around in the basement of a building, just waiting for something to fail, to go and fix it. So there was a plumber, a Sparky and air tech, you know, the FM, everyone there, and we'd sit around.

And, , mostly I was going around adjusting, , flickering, light tubes for partners. I was working at Deloitte and some law firms and [00:06:00] stuff. So it was really just a big focus on customer service. But for me, I remember seeing the facility managers and. , mocking that role in my head at the time, thinking I could do that.

They're just really telling all of these tradespeople what to do. You know, maybe that's something that I could do to get off, , to get off the tools, so to speak. So when I eventually relocated back to Australia and moved to Sydney, I, , set out to get a job in facility management.

[00:06:30] James Dice: Got it.

And it sounds like you did well. That was the next, the next

[00:06:34] Louise Monger: stop. Yeah. Yeah. So, , moved to Sydney, applied for entry-level roles in FM and, , got a job, working for Johnson controls in a data centers contract. So his facility doing facility management in data centers, which was really good experience because I got to understand critical.

And, you know, all of the building systems relative to those environments, [00:07:00] did that for a while and then, moved into facility management in real estate. So working on the FM contract for amp. my first job, there was actually the relief facility manager. So my job was to go around and cover people's annual leave but again, like, you know, just by, you know, a bit of luck that that role then enabled me to get exposure to 30 or 40 buildings in the space of 18 months. so rather than going in as an FM and doing a single building and, and, you know, getting to know that one building, I got to work in assets, from the big premium assets to, you know, smaller fringe assets, to office parks, to logistics and industrial buildings and I think again, that diversity of experience really helped to accelerate my career at that point to.

[00:07:51] James Dice: Got it. All right. And then what, where did you go from the facility management side of things?

[00:07:56] Louise Monger: So I was, , doing roles on that FM [00:08:00] contract, and I remember the national operations manager for amp capital took me out for a coffee and they had a role as the regional operations manager. So a state kind of manager for FM opening up. And, , he said to me, you should apply for this job. And I said, I'm not old enough to do that job. It was my response. which again is another, you know, when you're thinking about, diversity, both from a generation sense, so early people, early career, but I think also female, , people.

Maybe don't think that they can be a role because I haven't seen somebody like them do that role ever. So I had never seen someone in a management position in facilities management as a young woman. I hadn't seen that at that point in my career, I was maybe 28. and so my response was I can't do that in my mind.

People were male and over 40 to do that job. Right. It was like Louise applied for the job. I was like, okay. [00:09:00] so that got me into amp capital. And, from there I had a fantastic 10 years, at amp capital working, as, the head of operations, and working as the head of property management. , and finally as the director for technology and innovation.

So, really had a varied career, over that decade.

[00:09:20] James Dice: Got it. I, I did have a question for you on that time. So you went from kind of like external FM, it sounds like, like a service provider sort of model. And then you went internal FM and then over the property management, can you talk about that transition and what that required in terms of personal growth

[00:09:38] Louise Monger: for you?

I think having the experience, being an external FM and then moving into the role as head of operations that oversees that contract. I. Uniquely knew what it felt like to be an FM and to not be included and to not have a good [00:10:00] visibility of what the building owners strategy is and to be treated as, um, you know, at that point, I think it was quite a master servant relationship.

Um, and when I was then put in a position of being able to influence, um, the work environment for facilities management, I made a conscious decision that those people would be included as a part of our business at amp capital, regardless of who their employer was. And I really strongly believe that the better outcomes for customers are achieved.

So our tenants are achieved when, they see why. Building management team and this isn't anything new, you know, I think these days that would be quite a common approach. This was say 12 years ago. So we really focused on making sure that those people were included. Then when I moved into property management, uh, that was a little bit unusual move.

I think not [00:11:00] always everyone goes from operations to leading all the property management, leasing customer experience. But you know, I, I guess I applied much of the same approach in that my role was to create. The best environment for our asset teams to deliver for our customers. And to do that, that's around culture.

It's around defining the roles within our structure and who does what, and really defining the purpose of why we were there and what we set out to achieve. So I, you know, I applied those types of, management practices rather than coming in and saying, Hey, this is general manager, you've got 30 years of experience as a general manager of a premium building.

He's how do you do your job? It wasn't, yeah, it wasn't like that at all. But a great, you know, we, I had a fantastic four years of head of property management, was, it was a really exciting time. We did some quite innovative things in terms of customer [00:12:00] experience and customer training, and really, you know, put the relationship that our people had with our customer and the connection that people have with the customer at the heart of everything we did.

So really taking customer service beyond like being responsive or, you know, getting back to people or being proactive, but actually. Real estate is about relationships with people and it's about building connections. And it's about having that connection, I think on a deeper level than a transactional relationship.

So they were the big transformations that we, we undertook during that time.

[00:12:38] James Dice: Got it. And was that focused on the experience and the relationship? What brought you into technology and innovation? How did

[00:12:45] Louise Monger: that? I am P capital had done a. You know, started to do a review of their approach to technology across the whole real estate business, both from enterprise [00:13:00] technology.

So, you know, property and asset management systems, um, data, big data and automation on the enterprise side, as well as customer experience technology. So really big thing in retail, obviously amp capital bank, a large shopping center owner, and office buildings. And as part of that, I, we realized that we needed to identify people.

Understood tech, but also understood commercial and the business side of, of real estate. And we call them purple people. So the blending of black, red, and blue profiles, that, you know, that could translate and be these translators to the executive team, to our people, but also to technology vendors and, and bring that together because of my background in facilities management, and earlier as an electrician, I, you know, had that purple people, criteria. So I had started to lead, more into the asset technology [00:14:00] space and, was doing, you know, early days was, was, uh, setting out strategy for, you know, how we were going to.

Get an uplift in asset tech, cyber security, those types of things. And then just really through conversations for career change, they were like, well, you know, would you like to take on this role as the director for technology and innovation and oversee our whole program of, technology uplift, including the enterprise side.

So, I jumped at that. Firmly believe in careers that you know, they don't necessarily need to be lineal. It's not about always getting the next promotion, but, you know, a friend and mentor of mine at the time said, it's a bit more like collecting, scout badges, or girl, God badges. Right? You want to get the experience.

So this is your chance to get the, the technology badge, because you know, that is where you will have a point of difference and be able to add value to organizations, you know, further on in your [00:15:00] career. So I saw that as, as a good opportunity plus it's fun. Like Tech's really fun. And in real estate stacks really fun.

So I was like, yeah, let's, let's go and do that. That's that sounds like a lot of fun. So jumped into that role. And I guess it was, uh, the combination of. 20 years of experience that led to, Schneider finding my profile for the role I'm in now. Yeah.

[00:15:23] James Dice: Okay. I think that's a great piece of career advice though.

Just collect as many badges as you can. I think I specifically stayed at a few jobs too long when I definitely had opportunities to jump and get a different badge if you will. Um, maybe I need to add that to our, we have a module of our course on career planning and smart buildings, and we need to add some sort of a little lesson on that.

Maybe we'll, we'll have to pull you in for that. Uh, talk about your badges. So, yeah. So, okay. So then you jumped over to Schneider. Can you talk about what that role is? This [00:16:00] was like late 20, 20, if I'm,

[00:16:01] Louise Monger: if I'm not mistaken. Yeah. Yeah. So they had, Schneider had reached out to me, um, probably about six months.

It was probably a six month, process of, of conversations and recruitment. I was interested initially because, look great role executive level, and the opportunity to really own a commercial piece of, of a business. So that sort of piqued my interest, but then, through that process. I started to research the company and get to know Schneider electric more.

So obviously I have had Schneider in and out of my career since I was an apprentice. Right. I remember way back working in mining, but there would be quite a lot of Schneider electric kids. So familiar with the company as an FM, you know, I had worked with them in, in buildings. But as I, unpicked what Schneider is today, I was actually blown away by the, um, firstly the purpose around sustainability.

Secondly, the [00:17:00] strong commitment to diversity and could see that that was being, led from the very top of the organization in a very public way. And that signaled to me that, they were serious about that. And that was important to me. And, and finally I could see how much the technology had evolved.

Since I had been. You know, probably more involved in it at a, at a system level. And that excited me because I could see some real opportunity there, to share that story more in the Australian market. I did have a bit of, you know, I think those moments of, when you're looking at jobs, my technical enough to do this job, you know, and, and really questioning myself to what extent is a deep knowledge of technology necessary to derive value from it and to help.

Transform the business and to support our customers in deriving value for technology. So, you know, I really thought about that and, realized that the value I bring is [00:18:00] actually the diversity of my background coming into this role and the exposure from, from being client side and from understanding.

And it, you know, from an FM and from, you know, being a technician on the tools. So I have, the ability to relate to a really large part of our business, from that experience.

[00:18:17] James Dice: Yeah. And I believe they call that imposter syndrome. And I definitely have that. I have that very, very strongly as well. Uh, not just being on this podcast, but newsletter and teaching your course, it goes way, way deep with me, for sure.

[00:18:32] Louise Monger: It's so true. Even coming on this podcast, like I've said to people, or I've got, I got the nexus podcast and there's that real sense of imposter syndrome? Like, am I. You know, do I, or can I own my own place in our industry? And, you know, I do, you know, the worry, am I technical enough? Do I know these questions, then I've just got to remind myself, like my unique ability is actually to sit across this at a much higher, you know, holistic [00:19:00] level and strategic level and to not, to be free of legacy thinking.

Like, I think sometimes if you've been too deep in technology or to deepen an industry, um, that you can have legacy mindset and then that can be really hard to change or, or shake that or shape it. And we've got plenty of experts, you know, I've got plenty of experts around me to lean on, when I need them.


[00:19:25] James Dice: Yeah. I like to say like the, the whole word holistic. That you just said is super important. Not a lot of people understand how everything fits together and how to sort of bring the right stakeholders in at the right time and get the right people on the right page. Um, super, super important. What would you say to other women out there that are listening to this that have imposter syndrome?

Um, in terms of how to think about

[00:19:51] Louise Monger: their careers? Um, and men, I think men get imposter syndrome too, and they're less likely to talk about it or to have that [00:20:00] vulnerability to talk about it. I think like my advice is always things get easier, the more you do them. So, I've always taken the approach of saying yes to things saying yes to podcast, to presentations, to, roles that, you know, maybe didn't seem like an obvious choice or, and going into that with a really curious mindset.

So a strong belief that I can learn fast. I'm naturally curious. I will read a lot. I will talk to people. I'll ask a lot of questions and I think that goes a long way to helping you find your comfort. And then the other thing is everyone has imposter syndrome. So that's why I talk about it quite openly, because I think it helps people to say, oh wow, she's a VP.

And she's saying that she has imposter syndrome. Like that actually makes me feel better. You know, so I'm quite happy to share that as a, as a way that I feel. Um, and I think talking [00:21:00] about it makes it easier for people to,

[00:21:02] James Dice: yeah. Yeah. That's great advice. So can you talk a little bit more about your team and what you guys do

[00:21:09] Louise Monger: and your team?

So, I've got 350 people here in our business in Australia. We have a systems business, so construction installing new systems into, Greenfield projects, basically. Um, the big projects we're working on, large office towers. Um, we're doing Salesforce tower here in Sydney. Queen's Wharf project, which is a big mixed use development in Brisbane.

We're delivering 17 Metro train stations. So there's a new Metro system, being built in Sydney at the moment. We're doing some train stations, a lot of healthcare, a lot of data centers. Um, we also have a services business, obviously maintenance of our install base. Um, we have a digital solutions [00:22:00] team as well.

That is now looking at how we, um, grow our software layer, um, and engage with our customers in a digital sense. That includes cybersecurity. It also includes, consulting so more and more where we're being asked by our customers to, um, play the role of a consultant as such. Um, so we're looking to build out that capability as well.

Um, I also cover, segments, so healthcare and real estate, segments that sit within digital buildings. Um, and you know, we have a sales team and, and back office team. So yeah, quite a, quite a big team. But, what I, what struck me, I think when I joined this company was the quality of the people. Um, and the.

The expertise and how smart our engineers are and how creative they can be. Um, and the real opportunity to, uh, unlock [00:23:00] innovation and creative creativity within this business.

[00:23:02] James Dice: Totally. And you've seen all the other companies like Schneider right in your career. What do you think sets Schneider apart from other companies like Buycott besides use of mentioned sustainability and

[00:23:19] Louise Monger: diversity?

Yes. Yeah. So I mean sustainability, but I think when you say the purpose of sustainability, how does that actually translate into offer? And for me, you know, we are much stronger as Schneider when we bring all the Schneider to play. And that includes digital power. That includes micro grids. Um, that includes all of our connected devices and products and, um, You know, the rise of the prosumer is something we're looking at now, which is, you know, people that will be generating more electricity that they need and how will, energy networks, evolve and meet that demand.

So for me, [00:24:00] it's the innovation and the smart cities going into tackling this, you know, huge problem of the new energy landscape and this massive transition that's going to happen. Um, as we move to clean energy over the next decade, um, that focus and our ability to support our customers with that beyond the BMS, there'll be on an access control system.

That is where we can really add a whole ton of value. So, that's the part that excites me a lot.

[00:24:29] James Dice: That makes sense. Well, that's a amazing career path so far. I hope I hope people listening realize that it doesn't have to be linear. Like you said. Um, I'm wondering. When I listened to that, it's an interesting transition from the owner side or the client side, back to the vendor side, say back to the vendor.

Most people go the other direction. Like we've had people on the podcast before that are sitting in the owner roles. Um, and, you know, came there from the [00:25:00] vendor side. You went from the owner side to the vendor side. So how can you talk about what that experience has been like and what you've learned?

[00:25:08] Louise Monger: Uh, it's really eyeopening.

I think that working in real estate, you can be somewhat shielded from what happens in the supply chain, uh, on projects, um, smaller projects, you know, you're usually dealing directly with the contractors and the vendors, but on the larger developments, um, you know, there's this whole ecosystem that is.

Working itself out, I guess, dependent on what the procurement strategy that's been set. So I have realized that if the procurement strategy is wrong, there is a lot of risk in the technology not being or not delivering what the owner has intended it to deliver. Um, and starting to see more technology [00:26:00] packages being carved out and going direct to builder and bringing that higher up the chain.

But not always like quite often, we're seeing technology packages, firstly, um, dispersed. So, you know, there's a BMS package as an access control package as a package for this and that. So the opportunity to, to, to provide economies of scale or synergy or ease of integrations, because these packages are set to a whole different range of subcontractors.

Um, but then, you know, you do get into a battle of, of lowest price. And if it's doing that, then there will be scope that comes out, in order to, to meet that. And if the requirements and the specification isn't written correctly, then I think it leaves open a whole lot of risk. so that's been interesting, I think on the services side, BMS being sub Dunder mechanical, we look, we work with a lot of mechanical providers and have great relationships, but I would say from [00:27:00] a real estate owners point of view, the BMS is the single biggest influence they have over their energy consumption.

So having that as a strategic relationship should be an imperative. and we don't always see that. And I think that it's not the operations and the technology, people that are driving that it's procurement people who were saying, Hey, we can save some cost if we structure it this way and go out to market.

But, um, maybe if that's being decision being taken independently of, um, you know, the people that own those systems, then again, are they really getting the best, strategic input into, into the, the long-term, outcomes of those systems? And

[00:27:42] James Dice: you're on the owner side, it was a little bit more opaque from your position, all of those sort of nitty gritty details of how the systems actually come together.


[00:27:51] Louise Monger: that what you're saying? Yeah. Look, I think we had where I was, we had a pretty good handle on it. [00:28:00] Um, But I have seen since moving across that that's not the case broadly across the industry and that there is a lack of education. Again, it's not so much, you know, you're heads of asset technology or your heads of smart building or your, even your operations managers.

It's more, um, development managers and project directors and people that actually, are really looking at, okay, I've got this, you know, billion dollar precinct to deliver that $2 million tech packages. Almost nothing to me because I've got this billion dollar precinct to deliver, but not understanding the criticality of what that system will provide in terms of customer experience in terms of energy efficiency over the lifecycle of that asset.

So for me, it's actually raising awareness like beyond the people that are playing with tech every day. I think the people that you talk to, the people that we talked to in the industry inherently get the value of [00:29:00] good technology and making those investments. But how do we get project directors and heads of development and, um, you know, other executives to understand that and to equally place that importance on technology would be, I think, a thought leadership piece for the industry as a whole.


[00:29:18] James Dice: Okay. So amazing background. I want to transition a little bit to sort of where we're at as an industry today and kind of get your perspective, but also get the, kind of the approach that you guys are taking to market as, as Schneider. Um, so can we just start with just brief overview of trends?

What are some things that are, that are hot on your mind right now as the leader of this, this bigger group?

[00:29:42] Louise Monger: So. The outcomes that are being sought. I don't think have changed significantly in the last three to four years. Sustainability, hyper efficiency, resilience, so cybersecurity, but also resilience against climate change.

[00:30:00] And, you know, some things like that, um, and customer experience, there would generally be the themes that our customers are talking to us about whether it's commercial real estate, healthcare, transport, segment education, I think it's, that's fairly consistent. I would say the big trends that I would see are more complexity, more integrations, therefore more customers looking to standardize and standardization across portfolios, because the overhead of managing.

If you've got 60 assets and you've got 60 assets all doing it differently, and I'm not talking about the BMS because you know, all the controls, because obviously that will be different. But, um, analytics, enterprise, software workflows for, you know, taking data from the building into facilities management.

If you're not standardizing at that level, then it becomes very unwieldy and [00:31:00] you're not going to get the benefit of, of that efficiency. So more standardization. And I think that means more enterprise level software data, obviously in all of that, data, different maintenance and, and more automation. Um, more AI.

Yeah, so that they would be, they would be the big themes.

[00:31:17] James Dice: And are you seeing, like, to me, when I listen to it here, you're talking about standardization. Um, I'm thinking about like centralized operations groups. Is that, is that a

[00:31:26] Louise Monger: piece of that? Yeah. Centralized ops. Um, and then, you know, for us where we've started to, support our customers in that.

So we have a connected services hub, that supports, our data driven maintenance. So we have building advisor, which is HVAC analytics, and we have created a hub to give our customers the value of. That type of environment without them having to create it so that if they do have multiple assets or portfolios that they can be supported in that hub [00:32:00] type environment.

I think some customers will build that for themselves. And see that, as a, if they've got scale that might make sense strategically, but it doesn't necessarily make sense for everybody to do it. So

[00:32:13] James Dice: it's like combining a bunch of. Sort of super users of the analytics software with some sort of work order or workforce management software.

How does that, how does that situation work

[00:32:25] Louise Monger: out? So our approach to, um, data driven maintenance and, uh, you know, I love the podcast you did with Tom, imp capital a few weeks ago. I thought that was really interesting to hear their approach and that standardization. Um, we've been proactively here in Australia talking to our customers to move them across the data-driven maintenance contracts.

So we, we see that that's, an opportunity to help make them more efficient. You know, this is an education piece that we need to do with our customers as well. Some [00:33:00] customers are quite skeptical or a little bit fearful of the technology. Others aren't technical at all, and they want that support.

So the way we have worked this out is that we have four different levels of, data driven maintenance contracts. So we have a plus contract, which is just a standard maintenance contract with a little bit of, analytics, that's native to eco structure, that will sit there and generate, you know, some extra faults and alarms and support our technicians in, knowing where to look and what to fix.

We have a prime contract. Customers will have the analytics, but customers will pay, for fault rectification. And then we have ultra and enterprise. So ultra is where we use maintenance hours to rectify the faults. You know, similar to what we heard on the podcast a few weeks ago, and then enterprise would be a portfolio management.

So, um, using our connected hub to be really proactive. And we've done that for some universities, particularly where they haven't had deep [00:34:00] engineering expertise, um, on site. And they've really found the value of knowing that where they're checking and responding, you know, uh, and monitoring that on their behalf, um, uh, yeah, independently of their staff.

So I view data driven maintenance. It's not a one size fits all approach, uh, for customers. I think customers are at different stages of the journey and the industry at the whole has. A long way to go in terms of change management we adopted,

[00:34:33] James Dice: Hey guys, just another quick note from our sponsor Nexus labs. And then we'll get back to the show. This episode is brought to you by nexus foundations, our introductory course on the smart buildings industry. If you're new to the industry, this course is for you. If you're an industry vet, but want to understand how technology is changing things.

This course is also for you. The alumni are raving about the content, which they say pulls it all together, and they also love getting to meet the other students on the weekly zoom [00:35:00] calls and in the private chat room, you can find out more about the course@courses.nexus lab. Start online. All right, back to the interview

[00:35:07] Louise Monger: well, what are some

[00:35:08] James Dice: of the obstacles you see, and just to catch people up, who haven't listened to that episode with Tom, we're talking about this transition from a schedule or time-based, you know, I'm going to go on-site for this many days per month or this many days per year type of maintenance.

And when I get onsite, I'm going to manually check stuff or do things without mostly without analytics software. And then this data driven maintenance, um, again, big deep dive with Tom a couple of weeks ago, and we don't go through the whole thing, but that bedroom maintenance is basically using analytic software to kind of take shortcuts in that process and, uh, automate some of the checks that might happen and, um, really just use the power of the analytics to make that process more efficient.

And so what are some of those sort of obstacles. You guys [00:36:00] see with making that transition, because I'm assuming a lot of these customers that are doing data driven maintenance had some sort of non-beta drug maintenance contract

[00:36:08] Louise Monger: before that. So the, the challenges or the, the change management has to happen, uh, in our company.

So with our people and our technicians and, you know, huge digital skills uplift, and as a global company, we're really focused on digital skills and training, and evolving our, our workforce in that sense. And then there's a transformation on the customer side as well. Ultimately, you know, what are we trying to do with data driven maintenance, where we want humans to make decisions through tech tech needs to do what it does best, which is analyze the data.

And, we need to, you know, get to a point where, we're seeing the benefit of that. There has been, I would say, you know, technicians skeptical or fearful maybe in [00:37:00] the past around what does it mean for my role? And, it's really important to communicate. The value that this brings to our customers, but also to our company and making us more efficient in delivering better outcomes.

Ultimately, you know, we're here to make buildings efficient. We're here for our sustainability purpose, and ultimately tackling climate change and data driven maintenance is a huge part of that. So working through it through our, through our workforce in that sense, and the approach that we've found is to actually do this in much smaller groups of people, not trying to tackle change of a workforce of 200 at a time, but actually taking team to text, taking them through them, bringing in some really deep expertise in building performance in the connected services hub to support that.

So recognizing that we're not going to be able to click our fingers and suddenly have, you know, all of the technicians in Australia, whether it's Schneider in the industry, You know, attuned to what data driven maintenance means. So [00:38:00] how do we actually partner them with the right level of support and do that in a centralized way?

That's really helping us to get some traction as well. I think one of the risks here, and I was talking about this with some of our people the other day with this data driven maintenance is that you can get people that get too focused on to asset level rules and asset level issues down to the device.

So who is actually looking at the whole building performance and how do we maintain that skill? Because before they were people, right, we had really great experts that were doing. You know, building analytics by themselves and by looking in the system and, and seeing what works and doesn't, but they had a very good picture of how everything worked together.

I think as we do this, like how do we make sure we don't erode that skill of, people that understand how the entire system works and how we drive building performance from, you know, a holistic view from the entire building. So we're making [00:39:00] sure that we've got, some really skilled people in that sense, to partner with people and to continue to, you know, uplift, capability in that area.

[00:39:10] James Dice: That's a great point. And I'm really glad you said it starts with, with you guys. Right? Cause I think there are a lot of service organizations that have kind of said. They're not going to take the lead on this. And I think that's a big mistake, right? It's going to end up in their customer wanting to do it anyway.

And maybe it's not with you, right? I mean, that's the direction that things are headed. I'd love to hear from you on this. And maybe this isn't something that you guys deal with depending on how your branches are set up. But one of the struggles I've always had, and this goes back to, I mean, I was two years out of school.

Pitching analytics to the service group at the mechanical contractor that I was working as, this was 10 plus years ago at this point, uh, analytics was like this, you know, new fangled thing that, [00:40:00] you know, no one knew anything about. It's much more, uh, established as a, as a technology at this point. But back then the struggle was I have a service group in my organization.

I have a controls group in my organization. In this case, we had an energy group. And then within that energy group, I was the analytics group meet mildly mildly part, you know, just me and each of those groups had different quotas. They might have that the same customer with they had different quotas, they had to hit different salespeople, different groups, right.

They were trying to maintain their fiefdoms. And so one of the things, one of the struggles I see with this transition that we're talking about is that the service group kind of views it as a threat and, and just basically wants to keep, you know, selling the thing that they've been selling this whole time.

Analytics group is trying to like come in after the fact and like bolted on top or sell it as a separate thing or, you know, whatever they're trying to do. And. [00:41:00] I think that is challenging. So I'd love to hear kind of your thoughts on how, from a manager standpoint, how you kind of keep that ship going

[00:41:07] Louise Monger: in the same direction.

Yeah. I read a great quote last night, actually, a newsletter that hit my inbox, but it w had the quote institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution, which is what you're talking about there. Right. So, look from our perspective. We've been on this journey of change for a long time, and ultimately we're here to support our customers in becoming more efficient and, achieving their sustainability ambitions.

And that means using data, for maintenance. So it's not about preserving an old business model. It's about adapting and changing these business models to add value to the customers. Helping our customers with their new problems. Like for me, it's not actually, Hey, I've got to protect, how we, you know, do BMS maintenance or whatever.[00:42:00]

You know, our customers have problems with cyber security. They've got problems with, enterprise level data. They've got problems with, technology roadmaps. Our customers have huge sustainability and net zero carbon ambitions that they need to achieve. So from, from our perspective, there is no shortage of customer problems that we can tackle with technology and we need to make everything we do as efficient as possible and to move forward with the industry.

I think the success, you know, I love, what Tom and co were saying about collaboration. Um, because I think any technology is only going to be successful if you've got good collaborative, ¡ And good communication and that's probably the key component. I think that it is made easier with less parties involved who do have, aligned KPIs and, you know, some of the best outcomes I've seen in buildings I think is when you've got a very, committed facility [00:43:00] manager who brings their vendors together, from met contractor from BMS, if there's an analytics provider or energy management software, but you know, really good management of buildings who brings that together and says, okay, we want to get this building from five stars to six stars and gives everybody something to work towards because then that team actually becomes about.

Something greater than their own patch. So I think there is a bit more that, you know, FMS and building owners can do in, in perhaps giving their contractors, like give them a goal beyond the contract. Like let's set some bold ambitions for our buildings to be more sustainable. And, you know, everyone benefits from being associated with transitioning a building, you know, higher up the sustainability chart or rating schemes and things like that.

So yeah, there's approaches that can be taken that will drive better outcomes.

[00:43:57] James Dice: Got it. Fascinating. Okay. So [00:44:00] beyond those overall tech trends, There's there's three things I wanted to ask you about when I thought about, I don't think we've had anyone from Schneider electric on the podcast yet, and it's just always someone that group that I wanted to have on me.

And then we have several members of our nexus pro community. Several students have come through the course from, from Schneider. Um, so you're speaking from the Louise the expert, but also I want to hear like what Schneider's approach to these different industry issues are. So I want to talk about openness and I want to talk about OSI.

And I want to talk about acquisitions and partnerships and startups, and these are three issues I had in my mind. And you also said you wanted to talk about them too. That's perfect. Uh, let's start with openness and, uh, I'm not even sure what the question is that I have more just Schneider's approach to open systems and kind of where you think the industry is at in terms of open, open, BMS, open, um, whatever other types of systems as [00:45:00] well.

[00:45:00] Louise Monger: Yeah. Yeah. So firstly, look for a customer to have good visibility, good flexibility, actionable insights. It is going to require us to open systems. Does the industry agree on the benefit of open? I think yes, but it does the industry at large agree on the definition of. No light, potentially not. Me or for us, I think, you know, it should be bi-directional integration and exchange of third-party systems and devices, and it doesn't lock up customers data in proprietary languages or codes.

That's got to be a given, and there's two aspects and like, I won't go deep into technology because that's not my space, but, um, there's the openness of the system and how it's designed and the tech and the data and interoperability and all of that. And then there is the openness of the. Then the ecosystem and does the customer actually have choice in terms of [00:46:00] who can support and maintain that system?

Because there are a lot of, systems that might be open, but ultimately there is a lot of, um, you know, proprietary engineering in, and the, you know, are there multiple vendors that can support that? You know, I think any system or software by nature is gotta be proprietary in some sense, like companies have their IP systems need specialized engineering and skills.

It's not feasible for rates to hire engineers. So there's got to be a level of specialized expert expertise, that support systems. But you know, for me, when I think about open, yes, it's the data side, but it's also what is the network and the vendor network that can put support the system. So our approach, when we talk about open, putting aside the tech is also our eco ex.

Program. So we, we, you know, train and license vendors, multiple vendors, in BMS, in access control in lighting and room [00:47:00] control. The brand is eco expert, but they are, you know, certified, vendors that can service and maintain our systems. So part of openness is, is customer having choice to know that if they do want to do an upgrade, there's, you know, they can have that competitiveness in that.

And that would be, you know, another element that I think we don't see talked about enough, Yeah, I guess that that's a starting point for the conversation.

[00:47:26] James Dice: Yeah. And so what you're saying is that within each region of the world, Schneider has multiple companies that are Snyder's partners that are available to service or upgrade or sell different products.

[00:47:42] Louise Monger: And then look in some regions, we only have partners. We don't have a direct business. We've got large direct businesses in, you know, Europe, north America, um, uh, Australia and they're quite mature and sophisticated businesses. Then there's other regions where, um, we only deliver our [00:48:00] solutions through a partner network in Australia.

We've got a really strong eco ex expert network. We've got, you know, eco expert vendors in every major capital city. And that does provide an open ecosystem for our customers. But look, whatever the design, right? I think systems need maintaining and, you know, if you want access to the code, you're going to need specialized talent.

And that's, that's true for software. It's true for systems it's true for, you know, enterprise softwares. But you know, how does the customer have choice would be another question I would be thinking about when we're looking at that. Yeah.

[00:48:36] James Dice: And since you are sort of a little bit distant from the tech, I know that there's a Schneider white paper on openness that I'll point people to in the show notes.

Cause I know people are gonna want, I think probably more from a technical standpoint, but I don't think we need to go there. And I think that we can go and point people towards that, that white paper.[00:49:00] What about the MSI? So you mentioned. A little bit above when we're talking about procurement, all the issues related to a new development that, you know, not getting technology involved early enough, putting technology underneath the mechanical, obviously part of the solution to that is this new issue role, uh, definitely a lot more popular role of master systems integrator.

Um, how are you thinking about that role

[00:49:26] Louise Monger: today? So for me, I like to think of that role as to two parts, the master systems integrator as a consultant, supporting the customer in understanding what they want to achieve from the technology and how, you know, the architecture will come together and what that will look like.

And then there's the master systems integrator as who is actually connecting all of the technology and building that, um, We have an ambition to play in both of those [00:50:00] spaces. And that's evolved through our business model, through customer demand. So we are, have been asked to play that role already on, on lots of projects globally.

And, um, we step into that space, but it's forced us to be more deliberate about our offer, and, and how we will position ourselves. What's been interesting, I think procurement models of the past. So we might've played the role of MSI because we came in with the BMS and electrical packages and some digital power and all of a sudden the customers realized, Hey, we need some integration and you know, we've been there and, and we're ready to do that.

Or they've released that package. After the, technology packages have already been procured and it's made sense because we're there and, and there's a good synergy and, and, you know, we can obviously integrate our technology easily. Then you've got procurement models where, which obviously makes a lot of sense where the MSI and consultancy [00:51:00] piece comes first, the ISP layer, and then they'll tend to the tech packages, later.

Uh, so, so yes, um, you know,

[00:51:09] James Dice: their needs, you mean by ISP layer? I think that's a, I think I know what that means, but it's, I think it's an Australia specific.

[00:51:16] Louise Monger: It is. Yeah. So the integrated services platform, yeah, so yeah, I think it probably is an Australian term. Um, so if the packages are coming later and we want, you know, where, um, Positioning ourselves as the MSI, then there does need to be, you know, I do believe that an MSI needs to be hardware agnostic and be able to work with multiple platforms and, technology of the customer's choosing.

Um, so that's definitely how, you know, we will evolve and begin to our position ourselves at that building graph layer. There's obviously a lot of value that a customer can get through ease of [00:52:00] integration and, you know, technology, if there is that synergy between hardware and, and the, um, the graph and the integration layer, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way.

But this is where, you know, for me, and particularly in Australia, which is a really sophisticated market when it comes to smart buildings, this is where. Our business will evolve and continue to grow and, drive our capability is into playing that role and to, to be able to support our customers with more integrations.

The benefit we have is that we've got our eco expert network that can do BMS systems, right. And, you know, can we, do we bring the best value in just doing a BMS system? Yes, we can do it. But when you've got a very, very competitive, you know, procurement chain, you know, the value we bring is when we bring multiple packages of what Schneider.

So if we're bringing in digital power, if we're [00:53:00] bringing in, you know, the electrical infrastructure, and if we can support in that complexity of, at the integration layer, There's a lot of transformation that needs to happen again within our business with the industry at large, uh, around, across all different roles from, you know, sales teams to solution architects or system architects to the engineers, that are executing.

And, I think, you know, sometimes we look at. MSI is a great acronym that captures a whole lot of complexity in three letters without actually thinking of, you know, the hundreds, if not thousands of people that are actually out in sites and buildings that need to evolve the way that they're, you know, working in approaching their roles.

So, , you

[00:53:49] James Dice: know, there's an entire nexus podcast series that could go on just as long as we have on only the MSI and all the complexities required [00:54:00] there. Um, can we circle back real quick on, so you mentioned the graph, you mentioned integrated services platform. I think that's what ISP stood for. Um, and you mentioned.

How you think the rule should be hardware agnostic. And my mind just went to how the graph and the ISP are software layers. And should the MSI be software agnostic as well? Like when they're consulting in that earlier stage of a project,

[00:54:30] Louise Monger: what do you think? And yeah, like, yes, but I think the MSI consultant and the Ms.

I, as the actual integrator aren't necessarily always the same, person or company. So you will often see someone appointed as that consultant who is, an independent, like a true independent. Maybe they work at a company of two or three people. Like, you know, they are just there to play that consultant role.

And then you've got the MSI, or you can have that [00:55:00] consultant role, Look at the end of the day, we have done that role from consulting through to design and then delivery. And we see more demand from our customers in that space. , and there is a need to ensure that customers get the best outcome from their technology if you're that consultant.

So the important part in that stage is actually really working with the customer to understand what they want to achieve and not, starting with a solution, a product or an offer. Yeah. From whatever lens you're looking at it. Right. I think if you're the consultant, then your role is to actually help the customer, understand what they want to, what outcomes they're looking to achieve.

And then working through.

[00:55:47] James Dice: Cool. So, all right. Last topic was, um, the star sort of startup and venture capital ecosystem, all of the different, like larger OEMs in the space, you know, [00:56:00] beyond big four, like, look at, look at all the OEMs, they have some sort of startup or innovation, like external innovation approach.

What are your thoughts on kind of just where these partnerships and acquisitions are leading the value today and kind of what is Schneider's approach to that, to that world?

[00:56:20] Louise Monger: I guess, firstly. Point of view the market and the demand for digital transformation is so huge and growing that the market is big enough for players of all sizes and needs players of all sizes.

Large infrastructure projects need big players that can take on the risk, the complexity, the onerous, compliance obligations, and there's definitely a role for, for, you know, startups. And, uh, and I think that the ecosystem as a whole can support, you know, all layers of business, in terms of our approach to innovation, [00:57:00] acquisitions, buy and build, it's not, a one size fits all approach.

So, you know, innovation is. I mean, if you were to say simple simply it's changed, that adds value right. To the customer, to the business, or, and there's a lot of different ways to achieve that. Sometimes it's through partnership. Technology moves quickly, big companies don't always have time to build their own and having a partnership with a software vendor or an analytics vendor or piece of AI, can actually help us get there more quickly, which is good for our customers.

There are times when it makes sense to build building graph, and that's what we're doing with building graph and, building out that, you know, data graph layer, and there's times when it makes sense to acquire. And then if you do acquire that, if you do acquire software, how does that, become integrated with your company?

Most typically. The [00:58:00] software acquisitions that Schneider electric mates makes, remain as independent software vehicles. So, retain their branding, retain their own organizations, sit outside our organization, have their own leadership, have their own board, because we do, understand that software needs to be hardware agnostic, and we want our software companies to be able to work across multiple sites.

So that would be one aspect, I guess, when we look at acquisitions and then I think, you know, you sometimes hear a bit of criticism or cynicism in the market about bigger companies acquiring smaller companies or taking partnerships and what that means. But ultimately if we look at it from a customer lens, generally, I think it's better for the customer because the customer is.

Getting a D risk solution. So they're getting that same author with a much bigger [00:59:00] backing. Um, and there's less risk of that technology becoming obsolete or not being supported, or they've got someone, you know, bigger than, than that small company to lean on. And then from the vendor's point of view, you know, a lot of the software founders I've met and I've talked to tons over the years, they're looking for partnerships, they're looking to be acquired or invested in, um, and.

The reason for that it's win-win firstly, it gives security for them and their employee base. Secondly, it's access to customers and markets, right? So it's another channel, to support customers and, and the best acquisitions. I think when, you've got complimentary customer sets.

So if we're a big organization that has large enterprise customers, maybe mostly private, and then there's, you know, a company that has more exposure to government type contracts. Well, you know what [01:00:00] a great opportunity to, to introduce each other to each other's customer space. yeah,

[01:00:05] James Dice: okay. So you've mentioned building graph a couple of times. I didn't actually realize that that was a product that you guys were developing until that last answer there. Can you talk about what that product is? Cause I just, I'm curious from, uh, from, uh, understanding the

[01:00:21] Louise Monger: marketplace. Okay. So there's some information publicly available in terms of press releases, but, basically building graph is a new building operating system, with a data platform.

So, rather than having, you know, point to point, API APIs and integrations, it's creating this, data graph and data platform that will enable, the ability to have. Easy much easier linking and connecting data across various systems and IOT devices. So it is that, layer above. So if you think about the building system layer, you've then got the graph layer and then you've got all of your [01:01:00] apps and software and things that sit across and then into the graph, you can also have, external data sources, that might be used for AI, such as, you know, weather or occupancy data or, you know, things like that.

And all of your, geospatial data as well.

[01:01:17] James Dice: Got it. Yeah. So we talk a lot about independent data layer. That concept, that acronym, we don't need more acronyms in the industry, but that's the one that we've definitely chosen here in the nexus community. So that would be another type of independent data layer software.

That's really interesting. I mean, it's a great fit for you guys to develop that with all the different lines of business and products that you guys have,

[01:01:41] Louise Monger: and that's come about through, um, actual projects and, you know, realizing the opportunity and working with our customers and understanding that we can actually create something that is, scalable across our organization globally.[01:02:00]

[01:02:01] James Dice: Got it. Well, Louise, this has been awesome. Do you want to close out with a, a carve-out so a book, movie, TV show podcasts, or other sort of link that we can share with the audience could be personal or,

[01:02:14] Louise Monger: or workplace. Okay. So podcasts, I listened to a lot. Um, pivot would be the one I listened to most regularly, which is, a podcast out of the mostly technology related, but kind of big tech.

And, I really enjoy the hosts, have great chemistry, that I really, yeah. Scott Galloway, and I like his other podcasts, prof G and just how he looked. Buildings, how he looks at companies and, markets and, know, where opportunities are for companies to evolve. The other one I'm enjoying at the moment is, we crashed, which is on TV, which is, we work, show the acting's great, but you know, it is, it is [01:03:00] good to follow along there.

And I read the book, the rise of way, a couple of months ago, but just interesting. Look at, You know, evaluations of companies and startups and how that can get out of control. So there's a lot of lessons to take out of that.

[01:03:15] James Dice: Totally. Okay. I'm two episodes into re crash. Um, very, very cringe.

Cringe-worthy I'm a person that doesn't like awkward situations and that show makes me cringe quite a bit. Um, yeah. So I think what I'll share those are, those are great, by the way. I love, I love professor G uh, he's got a great newsletter. Um, I love his hot takes. He just like goes for it. Um, it doesn't matter who he offends.

He just he's all in. Um, so I'll actually change mine. So I'm a member of the section four. Uh, membership and section four is Scott Galloway's company education company, and they do these little sprints to their two or three week [01:04:00] courses. Um, and I've taken one so far and I have one that starts next week on platform strategy.

I took another one called product strategy. So they maybe have eight or 10 or something like that, of these two week sprints, very similar to our foundations course in that it's a live cohort and you watch videos on your own. Um, but they're really great courses. And I really get great community in terms of understanding where technology is headed.

Um, and so probably a lot of the same topics they're talking about on that podcast. They're actually teaching the sort of the frameworks underlying a lot of these different, you know, big, huge mega trends in technology. So I'm really excited to start that next week. I don't know where I'm going to find the time, but I'm going to learn all about platform, uh, products next week.

Yeah. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. It's really fun. And I'll let you get back to the

[01:04:53] Louise Monger: rest of your day. Awesome. Thanks for having me, James.


[01:05:00] James Dice: All right friends, thanks for listening to this episode of the Nexus Podcast. For more episodes like this and to get the weekly Nexus Newsletter, which by the way, readers have said is the best way to stay up to date on the future of the smart building industry, please subscribe at nexuslabs.online. You can find the show notes for this conversation there as well. Have a great day.