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GE CIO Neil Dyke - Achieving singularity from disparate arms

Mark Chillingworth | April 29, 2013
It may not be a British company, but the General Electric Company -- better known as GE -- is critical to the British economy. The UK is the second largest employee base for GE after the US. In the Mayfair office of corporate CIO Neil Dyke is a pair of maps that show the scope of his role -- one is of Africa and the other of the UK, the latter showing GE's sites in places such as Truro in Cornwall, the Midlands, Wales, Scotland and of course the London HQ.

Some 70% of the IT provision Dyke is responsible for is outsourced, but denied that this is difficult to manage considering the breadth of businesses within GE and their diverse requirements.

"You'd be surprised how straightforward it is," he says. "With good service agreements we know if we acquire a company we can add, say, 5,000 GE employees to our support contract.

"It works very well and we always have a flexibility and if we go down in demand we don't have to make difficult decisions," he says. Dyke doesn't believe in naming his supplier base in case it causes issues for both parties, but says most vendors are present within GE.

As a company that is itself pushing the boundaries of technology in energy production and healthcare Dyke and his fellow technologists are keen to push the boundaries of enterprise technology within GE.

"We are looking at the public cloud more and more but it depends on the use case. Our instant messaging is on a public cloud, but we wouldn't put our engineering drawings there. Our ITIL processes are on the public cloud and our enquiry to order software is a public cloud solution. We are looking at the risk in using public cloud in other areas.

"We use a private cloud for email and we have a development and demand system that is on our private cloud.

"Of course public or private cloud is a debate that is very much about the eye of the beholder, so for our clients we provide lots of data from our systems, so they are using a cloud service we provide.

"It's not just about cloud it's about enabling access to common data. For our machinery in oil and gas or aircraft there are a lot of remote monitoring that customers can access and use."

And with consumerisation on most CIOs' agendas, can users access this data on their own devices?

"BYOD is kind of enabled and we can control the devices and the employees sign up to that. We are also providing more PC choice so that there are more devices available, I now have a Mac, this follows the typical feedback of 'I have a better computer at home than I have in the office'," he says.

As our interview ends Dyke tells me that he's soon off to visit South Africa and a number of neighbouring nations in what he says is a pretty typical travel agenda for his role. It's a challenge for the father of a young family, he says, and yet he finds time -- perhaps on those longhaul flights -- to do an MBA.


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