These are times of major transition. There is nothing new in that: the world has always undergone change. But what we are experiencing now has two main characteristics: its urgency and speed. The urgency of the climate change issue that requires us to take steps today in order for them to take effect tomorrow. The speed of society's digitalization that creates considerable opportunity – and also upheaval – that must be anticipated. Like the challenges of inclusive mobility, today's problems bring about tomorrow's solutions. On all these fronts, Total has a vision and is committed to innovation.
Development and climate: charting the future
The Total Group has already started its transformation. For a giant in the oil and gas industry, it is no longer possible to continue as though climate change is not an important market factor. This means that the company must adopt, right now, its strategic choices for the future. The first of these is to decarbonize our activities as much as possible: abandoning coal, promoting gas, which emits two times less CO2, and investing "500 million dollars per year in renewable energies" as Patrick Pouyanné repeated at the World Efficiency Fair and again at Davos.
But these investment choices call for durability and visibility. The energy industry is a long-term industry. Among the most important and most influential factors is the price of carbon. Before COP21, Total and the other energy giants urged world leaders to set an ambitious price per ton of CO2: between €30 and €40. This increased the competitive edge of energies that produce less greenhouse gas and heightened the appeal of CCUS - carbon capture, use and storage - technologies.
Being part of the fourth industrial revolution
And so factories became smarter. Not that they weren't before, but as in many other sectors of the economy, digitalization is advancing. All sorts of connected objects, sensors, robotics and interconnections make factories safer, more flexible, and manageable via remote control.
The Industry 4.0 or smart factory raises many questions and challenges. In 2015, In 2015 Total's Exploration Production and Refining & Chemicals branches opted to tap into the incredible dynamism and creativity of start-ups to accelerate the process. In this spirit, the Group has opened an incubator to attract innovative start-ups. "We want to make our interactions with these start-ups more efficient and to clearly define the working themes that interest us," said Juliette de Maupeou, head of Digital Industry at Total.
It aims to be a real win-win situation. On one side are microstructures that, by proposing innovative solutions will have an opportunity to work with a world-class company and benefit from a genuine business accelerator, and on the other an energy giant making the most of the agility and speed of start-ups.
Total's ambition is simple: to rapidly become a global reference for the 4.0 factory.
At Total, start-up culture is all the rage!
Total's Marketing & Services (M&S) branch develops and markets products along with all of the associated services. In 2015, it set up an Innovation department that has instilled a spirit of ingenuity into all its activities. "Our role is to accompany the different departments in their innovation projects by offering them methods and tools. It is also to instill a culture of innovation through awareness-building, training and communication initiatives," said Jean-Charles Guillet, Head of Innovation Governance within the Innovation Department. The challenge is to make the different M&S entities aware of the potential risks posed by new forms of competition arising from digitalization, and to "rethink our business model by remaining vigilant and getting one step ahead."
Among the first "converts" to this culture of agility and innovation is the Purchasing Department, which has moved from a certain bias against start-ups to an attitude of adapted collaboration, in particular by paring down purchasing methods, constraints, procedures and contracts.
To this aim, the Purchasing Department has been working on three aspects: sourcing start-ups in order to get them into a test phase and if appropriate convert them into suppliers; fostering the emergence of innovative SMEs by taking part in the SME Pact, an association that aims to facilitate the growth of SMEs; and fostering innovation amongst existing suppliers through innovation calls for tender.
Total now has 200 start-ups referenced in its database. This constitutes a hot-bed of solutions and ideas that are of interest to the Branch's various activities. "The real success is the various departments that come to us, the Innovation department, saying "I have a need, do you know of any start-ups who can help?"
Does inclusive mobility anticipate the mobility of the future?
When we talk about inclusive mobility, we are talking about a genuine problem, one faced by 20 percent of French people who have difficulty getting around on a daily basis, particularly commuting to and from work. It is estimated that around 41 percent of jobs are not filled because of an applicant's lack of mobility. It is a social problem with economic repercussions.
Total decided to become a founding partner of Laboratoire de la Mobilité Inclusive's start-up Wimoov, to contribute to combatting a lack of mobility. Thierry Pflimlin, Total M&S Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs, explained that "our role as an energy provider is to provide access to energy to as many people as possible. This is the whole point of our Better Energy approach. Being able to get around means you can play a full part in society and be an integral part of a cycle that creates value both for the individual and for the community." He applauded the fact that the laboratory is "a unique place where civil society, the public authorities and business come together."
Mobility is a problem that offers global perspective. Most urban journeys cover distances of less than three kilometers. With the increasing scarcity of natural resources, health issues and climate change, everyone is looking to multimodal solutions. The vehicle of the future is not necessarily a vehicle: it is a mobility service accessible to everybody.
For Jérôme Schmitt, Total Executive Vice President, Sustainable Development & Environment, this multi-modularity is similar to the transitions that occurred in areas such as telecommunications, banking and energy in developing countries–the shift from almost complete non-existence to cutting-edge solutions. "I'm convinced that we will invent economic models so that those who currently suffer from a lack of mobility will go from precarious mobility to hyper-efficient mobility, which is what we all aspire to in the future."
Total's commitments and initiatives demonstrate that a growing number of groundbreaking companies are transforming their economic models, taking into account climate change, digitalization and access to energy. .
Though its initiatives, the Group intends to show that these actions can generate profits and long-term value, and that the transition to a lower-carbon economy can pay off.
As Total Chairman and Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said recently: "We must prepare for the future if we want Total to be one of the major global energy companies in 25 years' time."