Case Study- GE and Big Data

We hear the term “Big Data” referenced all the time in advertisements, from industry experts, our suppliers/vendors, etc. Which leads to the question- Are companies truly utilizing Big Data to its full potential? If so, which ones and are they emulating best practices. 

Below are some highlights of GE and how they are using “Big Data” to grow their business.

First, what is Big Data?
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

How does GE use Big Data?
GE has been a leader in using technology to gather, process, understand, connect and capitalize on the vast amounts of data produced by the digital world and smart industrial machines. This learning process helps GE make better and more efficient products and form close digital bonds with its customers. 

In fact, GE has started the “big startup.” This is a whole hub of data visualizations to reveal information such as how much energy certain appliances use, and how much it will cost you. These visualizations bring attention to GE’s products while helping people make better choices. In a CES talk last year, GE’s Chief Marketing Officer Beth Comstock explained that it’s her job as a marketer to find value in and make sense of the vast data sets available. “I get breathlessly excited about data,” she said. “I get breathlessly excited about data,” she said.

Comstock also made a point that she couldn’t “live without connectivity.” Mobile technology and social media started in the consumer market. But they both now play a key role at the workplace.

GE’s marketers and innovators are now connected to customers and exchange information to support their needs. Customers use innovative GE smartphone and tablet applications to stay connected and optimize their GE products. For example, GE’s MyEngines application lets airlines monitor where their engine is in the maintenance or repair cycle. The company’s Movement Planner software platform allows railroad operators track train traffic, scheduling, speed and location. Healthcare software solutions like Centricity Perinatal help clinicians in maternity wards keep an electronic eye on mothers and babies. GE’s Yves Behar-designed WattStation for charging electric vehicles is using Smart Grid technology to deliver a speedy charge.

What are the key takeaways? 

GE is very innovative and does a lot of things well. Here are three things they are doing  with “Big Data” that can be emulated as best practices:

  1. Personalization.  Data is used in real time to improve experiences. This focus on personalization is the ultimate double edged sword … the more information you collect about your customers, the greater expectation they have for you to customize their experience and always know who they are and what they have already told you.
  2. Optimization.  In most marketing organizations, there is significant wastage of resources and budget. Big data can offer insights into how to optimize what you are already doing to save money, improve results and even add more simplicity to the current programs. GE addresses this well.
  3. Innovation.  The most forward looking potential benefit from big data is to open up insights into new markets or opportunities that you can’t currently see.  Innovation sometimes comes from accidental “post-it” style inventions … but more often in the future it may come from using data to see around blind corners, anticipate new consumer demands and open new markets.

Jason Peaslee

Jason Peaslee is the Managing Partner of Thrive Analytics, a marketing research and analytics consulting firm. His career spans more than 20 years in marketing, advertising, product development, research, and business management. Before founding Thrive Analytics in 2010, he held several senior leadership roles at AT&T, Reynolds & Reynolds, Berry Network, & The Berry Company.

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