This article was originally posted November 2, 2017 by Mark Johnson, Loyalty360
A storied brand on the American corporate landscape, GE continues to move forward in the 21st century with creation of Current. Its mission is to move commercial lighting away from a product-based model and toward a solutions-based platform for B2B customers and their end users. Bruce Stewart, CMO, Current, speaks to Loyalty360 about the company’s unique approach to customer experience and the customer journey.
What was the genesis of Current?
GE has been in the lighting business for many years. Lighting defined this iconic brand. Today LED lighting is the industry norm providing dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. The Current business was set up to extend the commercial lighting business proposition beyond LED product selling to digital solutions selling by transforming lighting to a digital infrastructure that can become the framework of intelligent environments and smart cities. We do that by adding edge sensors and controls to the lighting platform, including data analytics and insights capabilities, and working with partners to enable monitoring, communication and endless opportunities to enhance energy efficiencies and business productivity. It’s a major shift – that will help usher in the smart buildings and smart cities ,
What is unique about the Current platform?
Stewart: We built our platform to be “open on the top and open on the bottom” which is extremely unique. What that means is “on the bottom” we can aggregate both new and existing sensors and edge technologies with our customers’ other enterprise systems for maximum functionality and capability at the lowest possible cost.
With regard to “open on the top”, we have developed a robust energy efficiency application called AllSites that provides real-time, remote insight and control over your site portfolio. But we’re also allowing approved partners to leverage our sensor data to develop and offer apps that create a rich ecosystem that can range from space planning and utilization to inventory management and employee productivity. Basically, we are transforming the ceiling of a factory, retail store or office by creating an OS with software applications that will help run the building smarter. Instead of starting with the phone and basic functions we are beginning with lighting and core applications and creating an app ecosystem that can be accessible to innovation thru the developer community.
How has technology enabled this type of paradigm shift for brick and mortar retail?
Stewart: Had technology not evolved, we never would have been able to do this. You would have had people with clipboards, or you would have had to set up cameras and do time lapse photography of space utilization. You do all that can digitally now. You can have sensors that give you a full sense of occupancy, temperature elements, and people movement to help you understand what’s happening with the assets and the people in the space. Once you have that information and data, you can leverage the data from that platform and run analytics and deliver insights for enhancements.
We’re able to identity, for example, that a customer has 25 percent of their space underutilized. Can they repurpose that? Can that put less pressure on their capital expenses because, by repurposing, they may not have to set up a new building or rent more space? It’s simple productivity executions that might be about eliminating waste, but also about growing the business and helping it run better.
Is corporate and social responsibility influencing the direction of Current?
Stewart: If it satisfies a customer focus, it can. Some of our customers – such as Walmart – have commitments for reducing greenhouse gas footprints. We have been helping them retrofit stores with LED lighting, reducing energy consumption and their greenhouse gas footprint. We’ve been working with them for years to help drive that broader objective and they just announced this big sustainability initiative called Project Gigaton.
Who are you selling to? Is it an operations manager, marketing people, both, or someone else?
Stewart: In building environments, lighting has traditionally been in the domain of a facilities team, or often part of a real estate group, or operations group. When you’re getting into solutions and software solutions that go beyond lighting retrofits for LED, you’re talking about business productivity improvement and then we often end up talking to COOs and CFOs who are interested in how this might improve the operating performance of the business. Further, we often talk to CEOs who are looking for the transformative nature of the solution to deliver business productivity and growth as well as energy efficiency.
Current, is the iconic brand’s latest creation. Bruce Stewart, CMO, GE Current, speaks to Loyalty360 about the company’s unique approach to customer experience and the customer journey.