Imagine it’s an average day in 1878 New Jersey.
Your colleague, Thomas Alva Edison, approaches you in need of some assistance with marketing his newly invented incandescent lightbulb. Yes, even Edison needed to forge a way to get his product – something billions of people now use countless times a day – to the masses.
What’s your business advice to Mr. Edison?
When you have a single product that could change the trajectory of the world, you need a brand to back it up. Having a successful brand means building strong relationships with the public. It also means continually searching for new ways to improve your offerings and deliver them to more people.
In essence, that’s what GE Power (formerly known as Edison Electric Light Company) is doing today. Edison’s dream of bringing power to more people has led GE to deliver one-third of all the world’s electricity. Not to mention, GE’s technology powers 90 percent of all the utilities worldwide.
We can probably agree that Edison must have received some good advice back in 1878.
Michelle Wu, vice president, and chief information officer for Emerging Regions at GE, sat down with us to give an update on the company’s progress. She also touched on the three most important aspects of her digital transformation experience in our latest episode.
Bringing Power to the World
Bringing power to the world is GE’s overarching mission. As the CIO of Emerging Regions, Michelle finds herself providing the frontlines of this mission with the data to strategize the next steps. She is also responsible for relaying data sets to GE’s internal productivity teams. Think of it this way: Michelle is to GE as GE is to the world. We were lucky to pick her brain!
Michelle tells us it’s essential to have effective communication between business and customer. Equally it is important to have consistent communication between business locations. This clear communication is what makes or breaks an industrial company.
”Digital transformation is very critical for an organization to work horizontally.”
With so many moving parts, it’s vital that GE has the most advanced technology to deliver information between each location. Moreover, traditional industrial models are not cohesive with customer preferences. GE customers expect groundbreaking technology; so, that’s the technology the company creates for itself.
Machine learning and advanced analytics help GE’s tech keep up with the world’s demand for power. These incredible technological strides are first tested in programs within the company and then offered on the marketplace after all the kinks are worked out. This workflow gives GE an exceptional opportunity to encourage intrapreneurship, a concept that Michelle takes very seriously.
3 Pivotal Digital Transformation Lessons We Learned
Your organization may not be an innovator in your industry, but Michelle’s knowledge from working at the world’s leader in power is useful in almost any setting.
The key takeaways from Michelle’s digital transformation experience are:
1. Cultivate an Intrapreneurial Spirit
The first aspect that Michelle has learned about in her time as a Digital Transformation Pioneer is the value of intrapreneurship.
Helping an entire organization as big as GE get excited about using the newest technology will undoubtedly come with challenges. Working with company that colossal over the whole world is a little mind-boggling. It’s for this reason that Michelle emphasizes the importance of fostering an intrapreneurial spirit within your organization.
Implementing new technology takes many hands. Being the best (and the fastest) in the digital industrial industry also results in waves of responsibility. So, what’s GE’s most significant resource for solving new problems and carrying out internal programs?
Michelle stresses that creating a culture of curiosity and learning is essential to keep the lights on. This culture offers a stage for intrapreneurship initiatives, helping the technology and the employees move forward.
2. Use Data Beyond Decision Making
When an organization continues to grow at rapid speeds, data sets need to be used outside of the decision-making process.
With more employees come more complex problems. How do you streamline internal accountability? By using the aggregated data, you already collect! Leveraging your data to conceive an organizational behavior change will stretch the value of your data sets and improve company culture.
”Leverage your data for an organizational behavior change.”
Michelle adds that using data for internal purposes makes operations more clear and transparent.
3. Have a Sound Measure of Impact
In an era where we have so many choices in technology and software, it’s essential to choose the best tracking for your organization’s impact. Michelle strongly believes in implementing a well-researched and accurate measuring system to justify both long- and short-term efforts within GE.
In addition to accuracy, it’s essential to Michelle that GE’s system of measuring impact can work fast. There’s no time to stall when the leadership team of over 350,000 employees is looking to you for business results.
”Having a sound measure of impact is necessary to justify long and short-term efforts.”
Now, when you come across the next Thomas Edison, you can give him or her a bit of advice.
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