If you need to communicate the potential of cloud technology to a client or would-be client, you might want to take a cue from General Electric.
Yes, the same General Electric – a Fortune 10 company – that has long been a cornerstone of U.S. manufacturing.
GE, which operates across eight different business units and has some 300,000 employees globally, has embraced the cloud as part of an enterprise-wide technology strategy, and it’s catching on quickly, according to the company’s cloud product manager, Vincent Perfetti.
Perfetti, addressing attendees Wednesday morning at the Best of Breed Conference, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company, told the audience in Orlando, Fla., that the cloud helps companies thrive in a business environment in which “speed is absolutely critical.”
GE, whose business units range from aviation parts to life sciences equipment, embarked on a three-pronged initiative to educate line-of-business employees about the potential of the cloud, communicate successes, and facilitate the sharing of information and ideas across the enterprise.
Defining the cloud’s potential for GE “became an enormous task” for a company that a few years ago realized it had not invested enough in technology. But since then, CEO Jeffrey Immelt has doubled down on GE’s IT investments.
Perfetti’s program began with education; he said he developed a curriculum around the cloud, ranging from the basics to advanced courses for enterprise architects. One of the effects? Individual business units wound up using some of the information to help define job requirements when they sought to fill certain roles.
In getting the business units to share information across enterprises, “you have to create an ongoing program that feeds itself,” Perfetti said. Part of his communication strategy includes a portal – Cloud.GE.com – that was launched earlier this year and helps leverage best practices across the company.
To help facilitate the cloud message across GE, Perfetti said the company has deployed an open-source platform to share innovations. It has also created advisory boards through which he has reached out to the chief technical officers of the various business units who can address the business needs of each division. Also, “cloud parties” have been held to share expertise on the technology across divisions, and an “applications studio” service allows each division to “incubate” ideas that leads to product development.
The results? Perfetti outlined a few highlights:
· More than 400 cloud-based apps have been developed across the business units;
· Each unit has created its own cloud development group; and
· GE has saved more than $2 million in expenses.