The combination of software and hardware is a boon for PHI clients who were tracking travel and shipping data in spreadsheets or even on paper, Quinn says. Loyal customers are worth much more over the long term than the nice but comparatively small amounts of revenue the products bring in, he adds.
"That was the strategy all along -- to have a happier customer," Quinn says. "We set some goals of what we wanted to do and what was going to differentiate us. We wanted to develop something unique and customer-focused."
GE: Driving Profitable Growth
At GE Oil & Gas, CIO Anup Sharma's IT shop built a monitoring and diagnostics platform for the company's external customers.
Like their counterparts at PHI, GE Oil & Gas IT staffers looked for opportunities to add value for existing customers. One idea was to give them access to GE's big data systems and analytics tools.
A few technologists worked with a product leader and an engineer over a period of 18 months to develop a Web-based application called iBox that's designed to allow customers to monitor and assess the health and performance of heavy-duty aeroderivative gas turbine trains and other equipment, such as compressors, generators and pumps. Using data that GE has compiled over the years, iBox helps customers enable quick startups, maintain optimal operating conditions and avoid negative conditions like turbine trips.
The software is sold as part of a package of support services offered by GE, Sharma explains. Customers can buy the turbines without buying the services, and they can buy the support services, including the software, to monitor turbines made by other companies as well.
Meanwhile, Jim Fowler, CIO for GE Power Generation Services, oversees the IT department that developed a Web-based application called MyFleet that gives its customers -- owners and operators of thermal power-generating plants -- access to information that helps them to more efficiently manage and maintain their GE turbines. Fowler says his team took about four months to deliver MyFleet, launching the first release in 2011.
"It really came from the recognition that the data we use to run our own business and operations could be used to make our customers more profitable. It's that value that our customers want, and that's a win for both of us," Fowler says.
Fowler and Sharma decline to disclose just how much revenue their software brings in, but they do confirm that the products both add to the company's bottom line and increase GE's competitiveness in the marketplace. "We think about it as driving profitable growth," Sharma says.
How to Cultivate Revenue-generating IT Teams
• Be spot-on in delivering internal IT services and support. If your department isn't delivering the basics with excellence, higher-ups aren't going to trust you to try innovative projects, says GE Oil & Gas CIO Anup Sharma.
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