Thinking Out Loud: CIO Gary Reiner
CIO INSIGHT: You've put so-called "digital cockpits" in the hands of managers throughout GE. What are they and how do they work?
The goal of the cockpits is to get information to individuals as quickly as possible with as little cost to the back office as possible. The cockpits are for management decision-making and to better enable managers' reactions. Every business in GE has its own type of digital cockpit. Most businesses will have 10 to 20. For example, the sales leader will have one. The manufacturing leader will have one. The engineering leader will have one. That's per business unit, around different sets of metrics. Engineering will have cockpits around the status of projects under his or her purview. They'll be able to know the status of projects all the time. Manufacturing will have cockpits on yields, by machine. Sales and marketing will have orders per day, per customer. And for our short-cycle businesses, if something is off, the metric will turn red and typically the sales leader will get an e-mail automatically, saying we're off on this particular customer in this particular region on this particular day. Machines are sending automatic e-mails to a particular manager in charge of a process that's running into questionable operation.
Okay. I get an e-mail. What then?
It depends on each manager's personal style. Most people will forward that e-mail to the relevant person who has to fix it and tell them to fix it. Within IT, every business has its own digital cockpit. We're now organized around 13 businesses, but even within those businesses, there are sub-businesses that will have their own digital cockpits as well. So we're talking roughly 50 in all.
These cockpits track the performance of all our mission-critical applications. When they fall below a certain yield, then the CIO of that business and I get automatic e-mails simultaneously, and then my job is to take action on those signals. Also, on a daily basis, I'll look at an overall cockpit, which is the aggregation of all of these individual business cockpits, to see which applications are having trouble. These are all cockpits built by IT with input from the business side. Take the sales cockpit as simple example. Sales and IT in collaboration designed it, IT built it, sales uses it and IT maintains it, and we stay in alignment that way. Marketing also has its own cockpit, built in cooperation with us.
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