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.
How do you define digital strategy at GE?
We're a 130-plus year old company and deal in many technologies and industries. When we first started developing our digital acumen four years ago our businesses were saying, "I know digital is important. It's the way things are going, but I don't quite see how it applies to a gas turbine or rail business."
Others might have said, "I need to have a Facebook strategy." But Facebook isn't a strategy. People were thinking digital in terms of tactics, and we needed to pull it up to a higher level, to the point where the conversations were happening that effect the way we do business and create value for customers. How does digital impact the way our businesses operate? How does it create new business models? So when we think about digital strategy, it's about business decision makers getting real value out of the efforts.
What does digital mean in this description?
It's been evolving over time. When we first started, digital was focused on things like social, mobile and search; but it has expanded to include collaboration, revenue marketing and sales enablement. As GE's digital capabilities mature and customer preferences are shifting into social channels, digital is naturally evolving into a channel extension that's part of our overall business strategy to engage with business decision makers.
What does your day-to-day job entail, who are you working with and how do you go about it?
I'm with our Global Brand Marketing team, and I focus on digital commercialization. Essentially I'm an internal resource for our eight business divisions — Capital, Healthcare, Power & Water, Oil & Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Transportation, and Home & Business — and help them accelerate their digital capabilities. I might go to them and say, "We've got some great ideas that can be valuable to you and we would love to partner on a proof of concept or a pilot." But it works both ways. Other times they'll come to us with an opportunity they are trying to figure out. An example is how we worked with a group of customers in the Aviation business to create a community where they can share ideas and learn how to better optimize some equipment for better performance.
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