Jeff Immelt, Chairman & CEO of GE, explains why. He is transforming GE into the world’s largest digital industrial company to one that is focused on decentralized decision-making, speed and startup-like mentality.
“The Industrial Internet and the economic potential of connecting a locomotive or a jet engine to the cloud has much more potential than the consumer internet! We can now use software and analytics to unlock the incredible value of machines and increase productivity, something that wasn’t available before.
How will GE will get there? “Our culture. We may be a century-old company, but we need to move quickly, take risks, fail fast and behave like a startup to keep winning. I joined GE 34 years ago, and until recently our management could make every decision in the headquarters. Those days are over. We have to embrace decentralization and use technology to help our people to stay connected and allow more automated decision-making so you can look at an app and see what’s going on inside the company.“
“But culture is not just apps. It’s a combination of people and technology. If you are joining the company in your 20s, unlike when I joined, you’re going to learn to code. It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code. We are also changing the plumbing inside the company to connect everyone and make the culture change possible. This is existential and we’re committed to this.“
“GE is giving up employee ratings, abandoning annual reviews and rethinking the role of HQ“
“Culture and attracting the right talent are also why we are moving from suburban Connecticut to downtown Boston. It’s an ecosystem made by and for innovation. In Boston, we can be challenged by a doctor from Massachusetts General or by a student from MIT. We need to be in this environment.“
“We are also changing the way we evaluate our people. We’re trying to end anything that was annual or quarterly and make everything more real-time. We wanted to make the feedback process more like how we give each other advice in the real world. Instead of an annual review, we have an app PD @ GE where our people are getting continuous insights from their colleagues that they can use to get better every day.“
President Obama in his final State of the Union Address highlighted the need to invest in computer science education and outlined plans to help students learn to write computer code in hands-on classroom lessons “to make them job-ready on day one.“
Many of the US’s largest public school systems have announced their intentions to expose students to computer science. Currently in the U.S., only one-tenth of high schools offer a computer science course and this does not factor in middle and elementary schools.
President Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to fund a $4bn program for states plus $100m for districts to train teachers and get the necessary tools for elementary, middle and high schools to provide computer science classes
Schools globally need to teach modern students how to handle data, integrate that data into applications and understand strategies to solve problems related specifically to software. There are already areas in which computer science education is noticeably hamstringed, such as a serious skills gaps and a slim talent pool for IT departments.
The recent Oxford Economics global survey of senior business and technology executives found that 78 percent of enterprises believe the shift to becoming a software-driven business will be a critical driver of competitive advantage.
The C–suite faces a situation where their kids will know more about code than they do!
In this era of digital transformation, businesses will have to engage customers through new channels using apps and multimedia content. This is driven by trends in mobile, multichannel and transforming social digital landscapes. Being able to read, understand and use code will be fundamental to creating and integrating those content formats, and today’s students will be responsible for doing so.
Generation Z will need be equipped with the knowledge and abilities to compete in the job market, especially as more companies are digitally transforming their businesses. Students need to be consistently exposed to computer science programs at a young age, instilling coding proficiency that grows as they do. A student who knows how to write code will become an employee who is fluent in business and be a very valuable company asset. English may be the world’s spoken business language, but code will be where business innovation is born