Going Once, Twice, Sold
Going Once, Twice, Sold GEs e-business achievements certainly arent limited to internal or sell-side processes. On the buy side, GE has conducted a massive push to embrace online auctions. GE will conduct about $14 billion in auctions companywide this year, and it anticipates $600 million in savings mainly by deflating prices.GE has taken a leading role in pushing suppliers and internal purchasing agents to embrace online B2B processes. Starting Nov. 1, they all had to be ready to invoice and receive payments electronically, lest they forgo doing business with GE at all. According to Kurt Kemmerer, CIO of finance for GE, the company is well on its way to hitting the milestone of 100 percent electronic invoice processing, with well over 90 percent of invoices traveling via the Web, electronic data interchange or direct file transfer as of the beginning of September.Migrating these processes to electronic routing scores multiple wins for GE: It makes it easier for the company to get up-to-date data, it means fewer errors from purchase orders being set up incorrectly, and it makes for quicker turnaround reconciling billsinstantaneously, as opposed to weeks, Kemmerer said. But its not just the e-business technologies and processes a company embraces that define an eWeek FastTrack winner; knowing when to keep IT dollars in corporate pockets is also a key competitive advantage. GEs shrugged-shoulder attitude toward wireless computing is an example. GE limits its use of wireless to a few select applications, such as equipping field engineers with wireless personal digital assistants. Such measured use of wireless technology is increasingly common as companies demand sure payback on e-business initiatives, experts say. "At the end of the day, a lot of deployments people are looking at really dont give you a good payback," said Jack Gold, an analyst at Meta Group Inc., in Westboro, Mass. GEs wireless deployments are the kind that do give payback, Gold said, including applications that require immediacy of data. And GE is always thinking about how to get IT spending to pay off, Reiner said. Its usually satisfied. The majority of small projects see payback in 12 months; big projects are expected to pay off in 24. That seems like a quick turnaround, but thats why we call this the FastTrack. Or, as Reiner put it, "Were trying to live on the Web, here." Jack Welch would be proud.