You are here: Home » Reuters » News
Business Standard

'No going back' on GE digital push under new CEO, executives say

Reuters  |  BERLIN 

By Emma Thomasson

(Reuters) - General Electric will not abandon its high-tech under its new chief executive even if the transition to equipment proves "uncomfortable" for many of its customers, senior managers said on Tuesday.

"There is no plan B. We're not going back," Ganesh Bell, chief officer of Power, the group's largest industrial business, told on the sidelines of a conference to promote its products.

Bell was speaking a day after named insider John Flannery as its next CEO, taking over from long-serving Jeff Immelt, who reshaped the company to sharpen its focus on technology but failed to deliver profit growth fast enough for some investors.

Flannery said on Monday that he will conduct a swift review of the conglomerate's business portfolio with "no constraint", but that efforts will be at the heart of its

Bell said that all of GE's senior managers, including Flannery, are "believers big time" in Immelt's push to invest billions of dollars to build a business that marries electronic sensors and analytic computing with industrial equipment.

"Investors are starting to get the story. What they haven't grasped fully is that it is not just about making existing business more efficient but about a whole new franchise," he said.

Beth Comstock, who runs the innovations unit at the maker of jet engines and power plants, noted that Flannery was part of the team that drove the push and had seen positive results in his own healthcare unit.

"You don't go at your own peril," she said.

Immelt had been due to speak at the conference, but pulled out after Monday' announcement, leaving Comstock to speak in his place.

Comstock admitted that it can be difficult to persuade customers of the need to digitise, even though 50 billion machines are expected to have online connectivity by 2020.

"The more we can show how we have digitised, the more likely they are to try it," she said. "They want examples of others that have done it."

Comstock said that such initiatives represent a huge opportunity for GE, with only 30 percent of European companies currently analysing data from their industrial equipment to inform decisions.

She cited the example of DB Cargo, the logistics arm of the German railways company, which she said had improved fleet reliability since adopting GE's software on its locomotives.

"We have to accept that the old is going away and the new has not yet fully emerged," she said.

(Editing by David Goodman)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)