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How GE uses social tools to support its digital strategies

John Dix | May 22, 2014
Rich Narasaki is global manager, digital marketing in the GE corporate global brand marketing group and, as such, works with and supports the digital strategy efforts of the company's eight primary business divisions. While not a member of the IT team, Narasaki works with IT and marketing constantly, so Network World Editor in Chief John Dix tracked him down to get his perspective on how digital strategy plays out in such a huge operation.

From a mobile perspective, we have a mobile Center of Excellence (COE) that falls under our Corporate IT team, and they are prolific when it comes to creating mobile apps. We're well over 200 at this point. There was one in particular that has been very successful called Genius. It is an iPad app that was created about three years ago for our commercial teams in our Capital business to help sales teams better prepare for customer meetings and manage key accounts. 

If you're a sales rep in Capital you have a book of customers you need to contact and manage. And this app allows them to say, "I'm about to meet with this customer. I'd like to know everything about them." So you can click on that one button and it pulls in their CRM data, it pulls in third-party information, the latest news, what's happening. It will even pull in some of the social media feeds from that particular customer. So it helps our people be that much more aware and prepared for their meetings.

What's fantastic about the app is it was a joint partnership between IT, marketing and sales. And what we found is you need to have all three of those stakeholders present when you're engaged on initiatives because all three have to have a voice in the decision process. If it's only one of those legs, that's when you start to have some misalignment.  So we try to have all three of those at the table to get agreement up front. That makes the process go so much smoother. Overall we've got a terrific partnership between marketing, commercial and IT.

That was going to be my next question. How do you guys connect to IT. Do you have ongoing discussions with them in a fixed way, like a weekly update or something?

We're pretty fortunate to have such tight alignment with our IT partners. There is an incredibly high level of trust between our teams, so we don't run into the traditional challenges that frequently exist between IT and marketing. Our priorities are frequently driven by the executive leaders, and they are very much aligned at that level. The result is a process that runs very smoothly, with ongoing communications between the Corporate IT and marketing teams. 

We talk to IT daily about different things, whether it is a status update or a quick note about a new idea. And what's been terrific is IT is incredibly embracing of new ideas and new technologies. 

A good example is Google Glass. A few of our businesses are starting to experiment with it. I had an extra one and am currently partnering with IT to build out a proof-of-concept that can improve servicing efficiency for our customers.


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