Today’s post was written by James Fowler, chief information officer at GE.
GE is 125 years old this year. And today, we’re transforming from an industrial company to a digital industrial company, using software and sensors to make our machines connected, responsive, and predictive.
Despite our evolution through the years, our culture has remained the same since Thomas Edison founded the company in 1892. It’s a culture of curiosity, where people ask tough questions and work relentlessly to solve difficult problems. Our mission is nothing short of building, moving, powering, and curing the world, which is a pretty inspiring purpose.
My job as CIO is to give our 300,000 employees the technology to fulfill this ambitious mission—from the factory floors to our design engineering experts. Scientific and technological breakthroughs occasionally come through individual genius, like Edison; but more often, they come through the hard work and dedication of a community of people. We use Microsoft Office 365 to make community collaboration easier.
Collaboration is not new, but what is new is how quickly teams spin up and down and how many different workstyles we need to accommodate. We have teams that span different departments, businesses, and generations—people who come together for a period of days or weeks to solve specific problems. Using tools like Microsoft Teams, people are beginning to collaborate in real time throughout the day, working together in a personalized and engaging way, with all the information and tools they need at their fingertips.
When you’re as big and broad as GE, you run into internal cultural, generational, and personality differences. With Office 365, we have what amounts to a common language across 300,000 people working in 170 countries.
These tools also satisfy the variety of workstyles that our employees prefer. Some generations dislike sending emails and attending face-to-face meetings. They want to self-form in virtual teams and use social media, instant messaging, and other real-time tools. Using the Microsoft Cloud, employees have the freedom to work how they want to, with tools that are tightly connected.
When you’re sharing intellectual property across so many people and locations, security matters. We’re rolling out the Windows 10 operating system to help us manage security centrally and with great granularity. And we appreciate how Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus keeps all our productivity applications at the latest security updates and gives employees the latest functionality. Because employees are eager to have the latest Office versions, they’re more likely to upgrade regularly, which keeps their applications up-to-date from a security perspective.
In addition to enabling collaboration across a wildly diverse workforce, I am tasked with driving productivity across GE. This includes helping engineers share designs across the business, identifying procurement redundancies, and doing predictive maintenance on industrial machines, engines, and other products. These productivity savings add up, and we find them more easily now through a combination of better data analysis and better communication.
Technology is evolving at a blistering pace, and part of my job is to position the company for the future of work. We’re excited about the convergence of artificial intelligence and virtual reality in Microsoft technology and how that will enable future work at GE.
Read GE’s digital transformation case study.