How can a company that is over a century old transform itself to thrive in a digital economy?

For GE, responding to change is part of its modus operandi. This is a company that has famously made change a core capability and a constant in its history. For over 120 years, GE has ploughed forward under a banner of “Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing.” This constant focus on innovation and transformation has made the company the only one to still remain in the Dow Jones Industrial Index since the original index was established in 1896.

GE is betting big on software and analytics to bring about its transformation, with Jeff Immelt stating: “I took over an industrial company, now it will be known as an analytics company”. GE’s focus on data analytics was clear back in 2012 when it set aside up to $1.5 billion for small take-overs to boost its presence in analytics. GE currently monitors and analyzes 50 million data elements from 10 million sensors on $1 trillion of managed assets daily to move customers toward zero unplanned downtime.

General Electrics digital transformation journey

GE’s digital transformation is not the result of being in the right place at the right time. Instead, it is the result of a structured approach that involved a strong top-down digital vision, capability development, achieving all-round buy-in and a constant focus on innovation.

While many digital natives, from Facebook to Uber, continue to take much of the limelight, this 120-year-old giant of the corporate world shows that digital agility is not just confined to the new Millennial corporates.