As part of its strong growth in the residential market, Schneider Electric is developing new digital services to create value for its fitters and private individuals. The company, which has been working with Hardis Group for 15 years, has recently entrusted the design of a virtual electric system configurator available on PC and mobile.
For the last fifteen years, Hardis Group, a digital services company and software publisher, has been assisting Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation in the development of specific business applications and the management of data structuring. Over time and with successive projects, Hardis Group has managed to convince and expand its scope: it now includes the structuring and development of new digital services. Among the latest applications developed, "my installation in 3 clicks", available on PC (web browser), Android and iOS, allows installers to configure all the equipment needed for new individual housing, and make a quote intuitively in a few clicks.
Digital services: a tool for conquering the residential market
Schneider Electric is a world specialist in energy and automation management, achieving sales of €25 billion in 2014, with 170,000 employees in more than 100 countries. Historically, the group's market is for solutions for professional buildings. It has moved onto the residential market in recent years. As a challenger in this segment in France, Schneider Electric decided that to gain market share it needed to differentiate by offering added value services - especially digital ones - in addition to its products. All the initiatives undertaken by Schneider Electric in the digital field have been recognized by Enjeux Les Echos, which named it the 2014 winner of the first digital transformation ranking of the CAC40 companies.
One of the areas of work of the retail division was to set up digital customer paths to capture individuals with a project so as to put them in touch with fitters. To complement this, Schneider Electric decided in 2013 to develop a mobile application to allow professional electrician specifiers to prepare a quote from a PC, tablet or smartphone. "We wanted to provide a value-added digital service for them and for their customers, who ultimately are also ours. So before starting development, we consulted a hundred fitters to validate the concept and the features expected of it", says Jean-Louis Nicolas-Fioraso, PCO Partner France software project manager at Schneider Electric.
My installation in 3 clicks: a sales support tool for electricians
In late 2013, the first features of the future application were already written down: in three clicks, the application makes it possible to configure the electrical installation of a new dwelling including the electrical panel, the communication box (internet box and RJ45 sockets) and the ultra terminal equipment (switches, power points, shutter control, etc.) and make a quote. The application therefore has to be based on a product data repository and prices that are constantly updated: "For the user, everything must be completely clear, as quick and smooth-flowing as possible", explains Jean-Louis Nicolas-Fioraso. "It is primarily a sales support tool, so its ergonomics and use have been designed with this in mind". Hardis Group is already in charge of a number of projects at Schneider Electric and was chosen to design the application.
Management of data: the added value of the service
To ensure data accuracy, optimize response times and simplify updates or changes, Hardis Group decided to work in depth on the structure of the business database underlying the application: product references, rates, normative references, etc. "If we want to roll out the application in a new language, an update of the corresponding file is all that will be necessary," says Jean-Louis Nicolas-Fioraso.
In April 2014, the functional and ergonomic developments of "my installation in 3 clicks" began. "Hardis suggested working using agile methods, with runs and tests every fortnight, which allowed us to adjust the application as we went along," says Jean-Louis Nicolas Fioraso. In October, the first version was launched for all media: PC, Mac, iOS and Android. It was very quickly taken up by many professionals, but also appeals to individuals who can design their own installation on their own, and deploy it themselves if they have the skills.
"The different applications developed mean that today we can significantly increase our conversion rate, especially on "decoration" or "high end" products", Jean-Louis-Nicolas Fioraso points out. Following the success of the application, Schneider Electric staff are considering adding new features, such as coupling with software that can automatically generate labels for the electrical panel, and expand it to renovated housing.
Hardis Group partners Schneider Electric's service digitalization