How do you keep a big company nimble? One answer is innovation and the mining of big data. “In our company right now we are investing heavily in developing software to make our things have bigger brains,” GE Chief Marketing Officer Beth Comstock said at the American Competitiveness summit held in Washington, DC, this week. “There’s too much value at stake for us to leave it behind. The sharing of data is going to lead us to some great insights.”
GE is betting on it. Today the company’s financial services unit, GE Capital, announced that it would open a new technology center in New Orleans this summer. The center will hire 300 IT professionals over the next three years who will help deploy GE capital in a faster and smarter manner. “Information technology is a critical part of our business,” GE Capital’s Chief Information Officer Martha Poulter said. “It helps us win in the marketplace.” The engineers will be building analytics tools used for investing and risk purposes, support the delivery of key financial product, and help customers and small businesses obtain and manage financing online. “This is a big and growing area,” Poulter said.
Louisiana Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret, GE SVP and General Counsel Brackett Denniston, Governor Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announce the new facility, which will create 300 jobs
The New Orleans center is the fourth such facility that GE announced in two years. The others include software centers in San Ramon, California, Detroit, Michigan, and Glen Allen, Virginia. Together they will create as many as 2,000 jobs.
GE currently employs 5,000 software engineers and the company’s annual software revenues reached $2.5 billion. GE expects a double-digit growth in software from now until 2015.
The investment in IT is already paying off. Engineers have developed applications like MyEngines, which lets airlines monitor engine maintenance and repair cycles, or the Movement Planner software platform, which allows railroads track train traffic, scheduling, speed and location.
“Think about the data from an MRI or CT scanner, but Internet enabled,” Comstock said this week. “You can start making better prognostications in terms of [care] delivery and how you operate a hospital.” The same approach works in rail, aviation, and investing. “Remote monitoring in healthcare started a decade ago and now you see it flowing into other areas,” Comstock said. “There is going to be a really interesting convergence.”