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General Electric, or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. The company operates through four segments: Energy, Technology Infrastructure, Capital Finance and Consumer & Industrial. In 2011, Fortune ranked GE the 6th largest firm in the U.S., as well as the 14th most profitable. Other rankings for 2011 include #7 company for leaders (Fortune), #5 best global brand (Interbrand), #82 green company (Newsweek), #13 most admired company (Fortune), and #19 most innovative company (Fast Company). Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. In 2005 GE launched its “Ecomagination” initiative in an attempt to position itself as a “green” company. GE is currently one of the biggest players in the wind power industry, and it is also developing new environmentfriendly products such as hybrid locomotives, desalination and water reuse solutions, and photovoltaic cells. The company “plans to build the largest solar-panel-making factory in the U.S.,” and has set goals for its subsidiaries to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to secondary research from a variety of sources, much of the information found within was obtained through an interview with Mr. Hans Chia. Hans currently serves as the GE Marketing Leader for China and was kind enough to provide a wealth of information regarding GE & its revolutionary campaign: ecomagination. This case study focuses on General Electric’s ecomagination efforts in China. Given Mr. Chia’s unique knowledge in this area we are able to provide a comprehensive and definitive look into the successes and failures of ecomagination within this region.
Imagination is childlike and whimsical, even irrational at times. It finds its home in the minds of our children, creating wonderful worlds and quirky concoctions that quickly fade in favor of a new idea. Unfortunately, imagination’s lifespan is short-lived; a quick burst that fades at the onset of adulthood and is replaced by the mechanical realities of efficiency and productivity soon thereafter. But, there exists an anomaly. A large, seemingly faceless corporation that has taken a stance as a vanguard for environmental change. General Electric, a corporate behemoth offering a smorgasbord of services ranging from finance to healthcare, launched a campaign that is decidedly abnormal… and desperately needed. General Electric’s campaign ecomagination is revolutionary insofar that it encompasses improvement along the profit margin as well as enhancing GE’s environmental responsibility to its customers and the world at large. In an internal presentation to GE officials Kate Brass, Energy ecomagination Leader, touted the campaign as “a commitment to our customers and to our environment.” Central to the campaign is developing new products every year that… Improve Operating Performance • Lower Operating Costs • Improve Value Proposition • Improve Competitive Position Improve Environmental Performance • Significantly Better than Installed Base • Inheretly Green • Meets Third Party Standard
It is important to examine the catalysts that drove ecomagination’s development before delving into the campaign itself. The United States provides telling examples about the incredible waste developed countries are producing. DoSomething.com reports some startling pollution statistics: • 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are discharged into US waters annually. • 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming or aquatic life • Each year there are about 250 million cases of water-based diseases, resulting in roughly 5 to 10 million deaths worldwide. Penn State Sociology Professor Vanitha Dayananda reports that the world’s population currently stands at 7.1 billion and demographers expect this figure to increase to nearly 9 billion by 2020. As space becomes increasingly scarce and competition for resources increases it is imperative that larger companies develop an increased sense of social responsibility. Enter ecomagination …
”In 2005, GE launched ecomagination to address critical challenges, including the need for cleaner and more-efficient sources of energy, reduced emissions and abundant sources of clean water” (GE Company). The concept first began in the executive boardroom of General Electric. Jeffrey Immelt, current CEO and an employee of GE for 29 years, foresaw a societal shift towards environmentally friendly products that GE could capitalize on. According to Hans Chia, GE Marketing Leader for China, Immelt began touting “green” products and ecomagination 7 to 8 years before countries grew to be concerned about their pollution and emission practices. Central to Immelt’s idea of ecomagination is making products environmental friendly and sustainable, but also having a financial return with growth potential. GE already had a number of key green initiatives in place prior to ecomagination, but needed a “green”
model that could be pushed into General Electric’s various departments. Ecomagination faced challenges on two fronts: developing an adaptable model that could be used by various lines of businesses within the company & creating sustainable products that would maintain GE’s position as a leader in various marketplaces. GE faced a number of challenges given the scale of the operation. Challenges associated with product development will not be examined in depth given the scope of this case study. Hans Chia, CMO of Energy Chia, provided an interesting look at the trials of implementation from a direct perspective. In a peculiar development, the semantic context of ecomagination incurred an unexpected response. ecomagination doesn’t exist contextually, and the lack of a concrete definition of the word prompted confusion from various parties. This is important given the cross-cultural context of this campaign; what is explicit in one culture may be misunderstood completely in another. According to Hans Chia there remains a certain amount of confusion regarding this campaign to this day. However, that is not to say that the campaign has not Figure 1. High level overview of ecomagination been incredibly successful. - In May 2007, GE announced core concepts. that ecomagination had launched 11 new products and services, including a hybrid locomotive and carbon offset company. During that time frame the campaign had a backlog of orders worth over US$50 billion and accrued US$12 billion in sales in 2008. See figure 2 for a more detailed representation of ecomagination’s monetary success.
The central message of Ecoimagination emerged from Immelt’s executive staff. Additionally, within each department a specific individual was designated an officer in charge of Ecoimagination. The key challenge facing Ecoimagination communicators involved facilitating Ecoimagination understanding among all levels of employees.
General Electric is unique in that it does not have a mission statement. Instead, GE is governed by four ideals which breed the culture General Electric has become famous for. Imagine, Build, Solve and Lead are the four governing ideals that moves the company. CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt stresses that imagination fuels GE and through this innovation, GE shapes the world we live in. These innovations include electric engines for aircraft, electronic report pads for doctors, infrastructure efficiency initiatives and GE’s green movement, ecomagination. Building is the key to the future. GE looks to build not a larger company, but a stronger company. It strives to lead the industry with courage and efficiency. GE prides itself as a mature company whose growth is strong and sustainable. Next, GE exists to solve problems, whether it is a customer, society or for GE itself. GE takes a hard look at major issues facing the citizens of the world today and provides the world with an answer. Finally, leadership is the quintessential difference between companies who thrive and companies who survive. At GE, management keeps the pace we established yesterday and leadership establishes the destination for tomorrow.
Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt is the ninth chairman of GE, a post he has held since September 7, 2001. Immelt has held several global leadership positions since coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE’s Plastics, Appliance, and Healthcare businesses. In 1989 he became an officer of GE and joined the GE Capital Board in 1997. A couple years later, in 2000, Immelt was appointed president and chief executive officer. He Immelt has been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by Barron’s, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named “America’s Most Admired Company” in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of “The World’s Most Respected Companies” in polls by Barron’s and the Financial Times. Mark L. Vachon, Vice President, GE ecomagination Mark Vachon, a 29-year GE veteran and Corporate Officer and member of GE’s Corporate Executive Council, leads ecomagination, GE’s sustainable business strategy that has invested $5 billion in clean tech research and development and generated $85 billion in revenues through 2010. As a key leader of GE’s healthymagination initiative, Mark also focused on strategic engagement of governments and clinicians to lower costs, improve quality and achieve greater access to healthcare.
Keith S. Sherin, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Keith S. Sherin has been senior vice president and GE’s chief financial officer since 1998. He was named vice chairman in 2007. Mr. Sherin first joined GE in 1981 through the GE Financial Management Program in Medium Steam Turbine. After three years he joined the Corporate Audit Staff where he progressed to executive audit manager and later manager of Programs and Planning.
Hans C. Chia, Chief Marketing Officer, GE Energy China Hans C. Chia currently serves as CMO of GE Energy China. Having been with GE since 1992, Chia previously served as the Vertical Sales General Manager of GE Consumer and Industrial of Greater China. As a strategic leader, Chia focuses on covering the GE Energy product line marketing and strategic function via rolling 3 years growth playbook programs. He oversees region-specific demand creation activities, including segmentation, market positioning, value proposition, channel plan and customer communication plans. In the past, he transformed the GE business model from traditional aftermarket parts and service for turbine/generator into projects based retrofit business.
It was in 1876 that Thomas Alva Edison opened a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Here, he explored the possibilities of the dynamo and other electrical devices that he had seen in the Exposition. It was also in that same laboratory that he found one of the greatest inventions of the age—a successful incandescent electric lamp. In 1890, Edison established the Edison General Electric Company by brining his various businesses together. Later, in 1892, two competing companies, Edison General Electric Company and Thomson-Houston Company combined and called themselves the General Electric Company. Several of Edison’s early business offerings are still part of GE today. This includes lighting, transportation, industrial products, power transmission, and medical equipment. In the early 1890’s, GE appliance electric fans were produced in Ft. Wayne and a full line of heating and cooking devices were developed in 1907. GE Aircraft Engines, since 1987 become well known in 1917 when the US government began its search for a company to develop the first airplane engine booster for the fledgling US aviation industry. GE leaders have built a diverse portfolio of leading business through the years. This includes a stream of powerful company-wide initiatives that drives growth and reduces cost, financial strength and controllership that allows it to capitalize on opportunities through numerous cycles.
GE already enjoys substantial media coverage and does not have difficulty receiving media placement. Therefore, it is feasible to assume that ecomagination would receive a large amount of media coverage without GE expending a large degree of its PR resources. According to Hans Chia the GE communications department monitors its media coverage very strategically, paying particular attention at media placement in order specific audiences. As such, this business model is one that postions ecomagination for success.
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and his executive management team engaged in a variety of tactics to increase GE’s knowledge regarding climate change and shifting towards an environmentally conscious focus. GE enlisted the help of a consulting firm to increase its understanding of NGO as well as commissioning a study regarding climate change and potential effects. More information regarding GE’s research is available in the Conducted Research section
RESEARCH ON GOING GREEN
Being that GE is a major entity in a variety of businesses it is subject to numerous regulatory bodies. Some are, but are not limited to: Environmental Protection Agency Securities and Exchange Commission Chinese Central Government Chinese Local Government
The gears of ecomagination began churning in 2004 during the company’s annual strategic planning review period. During that time, CEO Jeffrey Immelt recognized that six of GE’s core business lines were intertwined with environment and energy related products. What Immelt and his executive recognized was a large area of “white space”, an area of untapped or underused potential and open for improvement and increased profit margin. Key to the initial planning period was the establishment of adequate metrics for performance measurement and a streamlined campaign that could be understood and replicated without an undue amount of effort. Immelt explained quite explicitly his desire for a program that would meet specific parameters. “It’s got to be repeatable, it’s got to be learnable, it’s got to be teachable, and it’s got to be something that investors can understand we are doing across the company.” (Bower, Leonard, Paine) With ecoimagination fully supported by the executive management team, GE began to move forward on the initiative, establishing a number of goals ranging from increased spending in R&D to lowering products greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Ecomagination Leader Kate Brass outlined some of these goals in an internal presentation to GE officials. Effectively, these goals served as benchmarks in which GE could measure the overall success of ecomagination. 1. Double R&D in clean energy 2. Engage customers: Grow from $10B to $20B in sales by 2010 3. Lower GE emissions of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) 4. Participate in public debate
These four metrics serve as the pillars for ecomagination and all Public Relations tactics within all return to these four metrics. However, if any of these metrics were to be met GE needed to get a better grasp of an environmental issue that continues to have an enormous impact on society: climate change. Immelt engaged in a variety of tactics that increased GE’s already substantial knowledge base on environmental issues and areas in which GE could establish a foothold as “green” stalwart. The following undertakings were reported in Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business by Bower, Leonard & Paine. • Met with leading customers concerning green initiatives and ecomagination • Launched a proprietary study regarding climate change and its perceived effects • Hired a consulting firm to increase its understanding of Non-Governmental Organizations • Hired a consulting firm to assist GE in identifying promising products and services for its environmental portfolio.
Ecomagination has met much success through meticulous planning and exceptional leadership. Below is a chart presented by Kate Brass that provides information regarding the initial metrics established, four years into the campaign. Figure 2. Results of 2009 campaign $10B $70B 22% $130M
R&D Goal hit Revenue Goal hit GHG Goal hit Savings Goal hit 93 Ecomagination Products Created
To establish a campaign that promoted an environmental-friendly overall campaign and stress sustainability with a financial return.
Knowledge: To have customers know that GE can provide “green” solutions to businesses in order to make and save money. Predisposition: To allow customers be confident that their business can reduce emission, including NOx greenhouse gases, and make combustion more efficient. Behavior: To Reduce GHG emission 1 percent by 2012 and intensity of its GHG emissions 30 percent by 2008 (compared to 2004)
The primary audience for GE’s ecomagination campaign is mostly businesses and government sectors that are familiar or perspective business partners of GE’s well-known infrastructure technology. The campaign is held on a global level and targeted different audience segments, depending on the region. The secondary audience is mostly everyday consumers who may be influenced or exposed to GE’s consumer products, including appliances and healthcare services. Intervening audiences would be targetted at everyday consumers who are also exposed to GE’s market.
The message for ecomagination was centered around 3 basic concepts: to tackle environmental conservation, maintain environmental stability and continue to create revenue for the industry. In short, the message that GE ecomagination communicated to its target audience is to reduce waste, increase efficiency and create profit. Slogan: Increasingly for business, ‘green’ is green.
GE’s ecomagination campaign is mostly a business-to-business operation that deals with a highly educated audience. In order to convince business executives and owners to change their traditional ways of operations, GE has to use an argumentative strategy to increase in their knowledge of the green market and allow them to indulge into the their company’s need for GE’s campaign. In order to leverage the attractive qualities of ecomagination, GE set out a set of attainable objects for each of their prospective clients and educated them on the benefits of ecomagination.
GE was one of the main sponsors of the Olympic games. GE realized that there is a different consumer understanding of GE. For example, in the US, GE is widely known for its appliances, while in China, GE operates at a business-to-business level and is known for its infrastructure. During this time, the Chinese government was already familiar with GE’s infrastructure solutions and wanted to use GE’s ideas to use its solutions to create an eco-friendly environment for the Bird Nest. Thus, this was GE’s chance to break into the general consumer audience and tied ecomagination to China’s central government. They sponsored the Olympics and their logo was distributed throughout the vast event, building recognition among general consumers. Rationale: By utilizing Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, GE used the Beijing Olympics as a platform to provide general consumers with self-actualization and self-esteem properties. As GE’s logos are placed around the stadium and the Olympic locations, their ecomagination-intended products are used to create a bond with Chinese citizens as well as visiting spectators and athletes. They built a strategic formulation for business to feel their own potential, while also attracting customers by prompting their esteem.
Since GE wanted to tap into the white space (an untouched market segment) they used the Chinese government’s commitment to the world to generate recognition for ecomagination. At the time, the Chinese government had promised the world that in 5 years, they would reduce carbon intensity in China with a 45% reduction. The Chinese government is a very efficient government, but they received a lot of pressure from the world because China had been producing a lot of heavy industry and pollution. By utilizing its efficiency, GE tapped into the government’s mission at all levels, including central, local and its industry customers. Rationale: Safety is employed as a rationale behind GE’s partnership with the Chinese government. As the Chinese government promised the world a reduction in carbon intensity, GE acted as a grounding solution that allowed the government to implement its pollution control. For the Chinese government, GE’s solution ensured their ability to deliver their agreement and allowed for GE’s motivational tactics to act in a authoritative platform.
An ecomagination Treasure Hunt is a discovery process that uses site employees and external experts to investigate a facility’s energy and natural resources consumption from shut-down to normal operating mode. Within this process the “Treasure Hunt” identifies, quantifies and recommends projects to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. GE provides feasible reccomendations to its customers wherein they can improve their environmental footprint and increase profit. According to GE, its Treasure Hunt initiative has received widespread internal success; resulting in a companywide reduction of energy intensity by 37%. Over 200 internal treasure hunts have been performed across all GE businesses with $150 million in savings opportunities Figure 3. The core concepts of the treasure hunt identified. Please refer to the figure at right, which identifies program
“treasures” across various business platforms. Rationale: GE’s Treasure Hunt tactic employs the principle of reciprocity. The GE officials who visit the various lines of business gain satisfaction knowing that they are leaving a tangible impact on their organization and others businesses outside of General Electric; through their efforts they are improving the company. Additionally, GE and other businesses gain economic benefits as a result of this program by reducing their economic footprint and removing redundancies and deficiencies in a variety of processes.
To promote ecomagination, GE invited the world to join in their movement by submitting their ideas through GE’s ecomagination website. Winners are selected and GE set aside a certain budget for their venture capital investors to invest in the ideas of engineers around the world. This led to a enormous movement among industry leaders and developed a platform for business leaders to think “eco” and maintain a profit. Ecomagination winners were selected, both individually and by businesses, and are announced through GE’s website. Rationale: GE’s Ecomagination Challenge is rooted in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Esteem in particular. The contest engages the individual and directly motivates them to become involved in an activity that can bring them a significant amount of success. Winning the challenge would undoubtedly translate into a higher level of self-esteem and may translate into future green endeavors for said individuals.
ECOMAGINATION VENTURE COMPETITION
Ecomagination.com is GE’s online platform that creates an informational network for its B2B peers to stay connected and keep up with the campaign’s development. The website is interactive, includes videos, flash documents, question and response pages for business executives to learn and discover the workings of the campaign. The website is designed to engage business executives with a sense of innovation--a new initiative to change a traditional business.
Ecomagination’s savvy use of technology is reflected in its social media adoption for the campaign. In fact, they’ve even structured a Tumblr site that they use to publish Instagram photographs of their 130 years history. As for ecomagination, GE aimed for an editorial platform that focuses on social responsibility via Twitter, YouTube, Flicker and Facebook. Through social media, they formulated a way to provide journalistic viewpoints of environmental-friendly business and facilitate a social engagement about clean technology and sustainable infrastructure. By publishing content that engages consumers and businesses to comment and digest information, GE established a constant flow of news and discussion among their followers.
BBDO is GE’s primary outsourced advertising firm. By using their advertising skills, BBDO targeted the business executives of businesses in China and displayed advertising that pictured concepts such as reducing waste, increasing efficiency and profiting from ecomagination at selected airports.
Ecomagination is a business-to-business campaign that aimed to change traditional business operations into environmental-friendly companies. GE’s goals intended to identify, convince, and implement changes that would benefit prospective businesses, while marketing GE as a highly strategic company that also intends to make a profit for its partners. All communication tools and tactics were successfully implemented to achieve desirable factors for ecomagination. By looking at GE’s communications tools, the ecomagination web portal, social media and advertising were very highly regarded among industry leading bloggers. Some have criticized the website to be “funky,” while others deduced that it was a successful attempt at reaching a younger audience. Many bloggers captured that in order to steer traditional businesses away from their daily, regulated operations that they have followed religiously for years, GE did a phenomenal job in changing their perception and taking them a step further to reevaluate their original lines of businesses. Social media usage was a tricky one. GE’s launch of the ecomagination Facebook was a great success as it reached into the general consumer market by making themselves accessible. The pages are filled with people-to-people conversations about ecomagination and its challenges. Finally, its Youtube site configured both in house video projects as well as participants of the ecomagination challenge. According to Chia, tactics among the above discussed were conducted successfully and none had taken an undesirable stance. The GE ecomagination challenge received worldwide attention and included participants such as individuals, scholars and businesses. The execution of GE’s campaigns are strategic, much like all of its lines of businesses, and continued to provide its onlookers with a sense of trust.
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Ecomagination is currently focused on healthymagination, a subsector to the ecomagination campaign. Continuing to develop its product portfolio Appeal to potential businesses through an increasingly interactive online presence
The overall campaign was successful, especially in the area of communication. Many businesses and government sectors talked about ecomagination and adopted the idea. Since the government had a need for ecomagination, it opened up a lot of doors for GE. However, it was noted that ecomagination moved too slowing in its product development. There are not enough fulfillments of products to reflect its concept. GE is a company that focuses on quality and thus when products go through tests for reliability, the timeline is lengthened and does not walk a fast enough pace as the ideas develop. Ecomagination is developed from the corporate segment, and with this said, GE Corporate is looking for new ideas. They are inviting the world to take part and is investing a lot of venture capital to invest in these ideas.
In October 2011, GE ecomagination was featured in BtoB’s Best Marketers via the one of the campaign’s subsectors, healthymagination, and was exposed to the media. Ecomagination’s currently campaign is focused on GE Healthcare, which has since launched healthymagination, a healthcare initiative that follows its environmental business platform. According to the article, GE launched a multimedia effort around healthymagination, in which they invited entrepreneurs to a summer program and asked them to come up with new digital media and marketing ideas. This tactic is similar to the ecomagination Challenge, which generated 5,000 ideas on how to improve environmental business (See Appendix A). In the month before, GE’s ecomagination campaign focused on its China region and launched a $100 million contest to fund innovative gas-energy projects, which paralleled its US efforts. “Ecomagination Challenege” was introduced to China with seven venture-capital partners, in search of innovative ideas in gas power, including natural gas, biogas, shale gas and coal-bed methane gas. Jeff Immelt was captured giving a speech that held highly of its tactic and said that he expects the revenue from its energy business in China to grow and sales to increase 2% to 30% annually (See Appendix B). Also in the same month, ecomagination partnered with Exopack to conduct a treasure hunt at its Georgia manufacturing facility to identify to their client different energy saving opportunities that totaled 30%. GE Capital announced that the Treasure Hunt trimmed energy costs, reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and improved the overall efficiency of its manufacturing location. The treasure hunt established a well-grounded suggestion that allowed Exopack to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 4.3 metric tons. The article was published on Business Wire and established a foundation for GE’s perspective clients to engage in the Treasure Hunt (See Appendix C). GE Aviation’s involvement in ecomagination was highlighted in a 2011 mid-October issue of The Jefferson Post. The North Carolina based newspaper featured GE’s development of the GEnx: “The fastest selling, high-thrust jet engine in GE Aviation’s history.” Important to this story is the Post’s local slant, which portrays GE as a community steward providing job security for its employees. “GE;s over 120-person facility in West Jefferson played an important role in developing rotating parts for the engine, supporting key manufacturing jobs that many see as the backbone of the American economy.” The article buffets GE on two points. It portrays GE in a humanistic light as a corporation that is providing critical support to a local economy and it further supports the ecomagination initiative. In this article the GEnx engine is characterized as a superior piece of machinery that is also environmentally friendly (See Appendix D). A primary focus of the “Ecomagination Challenge” is to spur growth among companies that have an environmental focus. An October article that ran in the San Francisco Gate detailed the creation of 141 “Green Jobs” via GE’s Ecomagination challenge. The article takes GE, primarily a Business-to-Business entity, and portrays them as a socially conscious entity that is creating jobs through its initiatives. A common theme of approval and positivity is evident in a variety of media pieces about ecomagination (See Appendix E). While not directly related to ecomagination, FastCompany’s online article about Indian Mahindra’s “Spark The Rise” competition is incredibly interesting given its similarity to GE’s Ecomagination Challenge. Although India is a fast-growing developing nation, but the country continues to struggle with simple necessities… “including contaminated drinking water, polluted air, and a lack of infrastructure.” “Spark The Rise”, considered India’s answer to the Ecomagination Challenge, encourages the submittion of any idea believed to help alleviate some of the aforementioned problems plaguing India. Winners receive an $8,000 stipend each month. This article is prove that the tendrils are spreading in fantastic fashion (See Appendix F).
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL
Royal Dutch Shell, more commonly known as Shell, also lauched a campaign in 1996 that had a similar target as GE. Their 1996 sustainable development project was launched at the Earth Summit in 2002 and was intended to fixate their reputation as a green company. Shell is a massive, worldwide energy brand that was never traditionally associated with green focus. External Affairs at Shell Cape Town reports “that over a hundred Shell service stations across Europe were vandalized in some way, and employees were scared to come to work. Our brand value was below zero.” The campaign allowed the Anglo-Dutch brand to build green into its image shortly after the 1995 Brent Spar disaster in the North Sea. This differed from GE’s ecomagination campaign as it was directed specifically to improve and change its brand image. According to GE’s Public Relations Director, Peter O’Toole, ecomagination is not meant to revamp the brand; it is about good business sense. He explained that “GE wants to do this because it is right, but also we plan to make money while we do so.”
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINE (IBM)
Another company, IBM, also created a campaign that tackled a similar initiative. Smarter Plant is a corporate initiative that seeks to highlight how forward-thinking leaders in business, government and civil society are capturing the potential of smarter systems to achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development and societal progress. Smarter Planet systems included smart grids, water management systems, solutions to traffic congestion problems, greener buildings and many others. IBM’s strategy was to provide many of these technology and process management capabilities and advocate for policy decisions that could “make the planet smarter”. IBM’s advertising campaign was created to support its Smarter Planet agenda. They ran a series of full-page advertisements in newspapers such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in 2008 and 2009, which expressed essays regarding a system or industry that IBM claims can be made “smarter” through the application of technology. They also participated via TED Talks. Later, they expanded to “Smarter Cities,” which is a focus on metropolitan areas.
One of the biggest shortcomings of GE’s ecomagination campaign is its inability to connect with the everyday consumer. We fully understand that GE’s primary concern lies in business-to-business transactions; however, we do believe that there is some merit in general consumer accessibility. From a purely anecdotal standpoint, we did not know a fair portion of the tactics that the campaign has implemented. Ecomagination would have benefitted from engaging the everyday consumer into its campaign operations. What we are recommending is not a large scale initiative, but rather a some sort of mechanism in which the individual could connect and be a part of the ecomagination initiative. One example is GE’s ecomagination Make Your Campus Green tactic that failed to engender a large following. In retrospect, China’s operations team did a fantastic job in using a innovative solution to engage general consumers. By placing advertisements of ecomagination in airport terminals, general consumers and business individuals are exposed to a small, yet effective campaign collateral. By simply looking at the ecomagination challenge, it is apparent that everyday consumers are not capable of relating to such complex engineering designs. If there were some way to simply this challenge, where in community members could participate, GE may stand to gain a more significant following and portray itself more so as a community member, rather than a company. With this being said, ecomagination was and continues to be a stalwart example of a large competition recognizing its long-term responsibilities to its industry, consumers and its community.
BtoB’s Best Marketers Beth Comstock October 3, 2011 Quote: “Marketers need to put aside part of their budgets for experimentation.” On Twitter, General Electric Co. Senior VP-CMO Beth Comstock describes herself as “aspiring innovator.” The label fits. The innovation that launched GE’s “ecomagination” environmental business platform and its “healthymagination” healthcare initiative, continues unabated. Last month, GE rolled out a multimedia effort around healthymagination similar to the ecomagination Challenge, a contest that generated 5,000 ideas on how to improve the power grid. Over the last few months, it also ran the GE-OMD Incubator with media agency OMD, in which entrepreneurs were invited to a summer program and tasked with coming up with digital media and marketing ideas. “We’re always looking for innovation,” Comstock said. As the executive who steers GE’s global growth, overseeing its sales, marketing and communications, Comstock aims to expand the company’s business in markets such as Brazil and India. Global expansion is credited with helping fuel GE’s growth. In July, the company reported second-quarter net earnings of $3.76 billion, up 21% from the same quarter last year. GE is also focusing on developing apps to help its employees and customers. These include fitness and health apps and business apps, such as myEngines, which enables airlines to access critical jet engine data on laptops, smartphones and other devices. Air Canada recently signed an agreement with GE Aviation to use myEngines. “Imagine if your jet engine had a Facebook page,” Comstock said. Simplifying the data behind GE’s technology is also key for Comstock, as is evident in initiatives such as the Webby-nominated “GE Show,” and its partnership with Visualizing.org, an online community whose mission is to make sense of complex issues through data and design. The design-driven approach permeates GE’s websites and its marketing. “Sometimes the payoff isn’t apparent,” Comstock said. But in the end, creatively rendering data helps GE “tell its story more clearly,” she said, “and then we’re better able to connect with our customers.” Read more at http://www.lexisnexis.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/
GE’s China Ideas Bank BEIJING—General Electric Co. Wednesday opened a $100 million contest in China to fund innovative gas-energy projects, similar to the company’s previous innovation programs in the U.S. GE is launching its “Ecomagination Challenge” in China along with seven venture-capital partners, together providing $100 million to back innovations in gas power, including natural gas, biogas, shale gas and coalbed methane gas. CEO Jeffrey Immelt, in Beijing Wednesday, said GE’s energy sales in China will rise 25% to 30% annually. Speaking at a news briefing, Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt said GE expects revenue from its energy business in China to grow by 25% to 30% a year “as time goes on,” without giving a more specific timeframe. The U.S. conglomerate sells various energy-related technologies in China and has installed more than 300 heavy-duty gas turbines in the country to date. China wants natural gas to account for 8% of its total energy by 2015 compared with 4% now. GE’s China sales revenue totaled around $5 billion in 2010. Energy revenue in China wasn’t available. Mr. Immelt said the company’s global “ecomagination” revenue, from a range of green technologies, including wind turbines and efficient jet engines, will likely be around $21 billion this year, up from $5 billion in 2005. Venture-capital partners for the fund include Citic Capital Partners, an affiliate of Chinese financial conglomerate Citic Group, and Sequoia Capital China, GE said. Winners of the contest could receive cash awards, opportunities to work at GE’s research and development facilities in China and possible equity investments in their ventures. In a similar two-stage contest that GE launched in the U.S. last year, it offered $200 million in funding for ideas in fields such as renewable energy and smart-grid technology in partnership with various venturecapital firms. Earlier this month, GE also launched a $100 million “healthymagination” challenge for ideas to treat and detect breast cancer. “We very much believe that we are never going to invent everything inside the company, and that we need to have the spirit of open innovation to be as good a technical company as we want to be,” Mr. Immelt said. Asked about the state of the global economy amid sovereign-debt woes in Europe and other risks, Mr. Immelt said, “global businesspeople are seeing better business prospects than the mood seems to be.” Read more at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204138204576598601072409190.html
Sept. 22, 2011, 10:40 a.m. EDT GE and Exopack Conduct Ecomagination Treasure Hunt at Georgia Manufacturing Facility Identify energy-saving opportunities totaling 30% NORWALK, Conn., Sep 22, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- GE Capital announced today the results of an ecomagination Treasure Hunt that will trim energy costs, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improve overall efficiency at Exopack Holding Corp.’s Griffin, GA manufacturing facility. The process identified approximately $453,000 in annual energy-saving opportunities that could reduce Exopack’s energy spending at that location by 30% annually. Spartanburg, S.C.-based Exopack designs and manufactures packaging for products ranging from food to medical products to building materials, among others. If Exopack implements all suggestions identified by the Treasure Hunt, it could reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 4.3 metric tons -- the equivalent of eliminating more than 820 cars from the road or planting 107,179 tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years. “The savings opportunities generated by the Treasure Hunt were beyond my expectations,” said Boyd Selby, plant manager for Exopack’s Griffin facility. “Additionally, the prospects that our teams uncovered will strengthen Exopack’s already strong position as an environmentally friendly manufacturer.” The Treasure Hunt was led by GE Capital’s Access GE team, which guided Exopack’s key sustainability staff, facility employees and energy providers through the process. Access GE shares tools and insights from across GE’s diverse operations to help businesses tackle their most pressing challenges. That’s because GE Capital not only provides smart financing but it can also give customers access to the know-how of GE to make that financing work harder. Over the past 10 years, Access GE has completed more than 8,000 projects for approximately 6,500 companies globally. Exopack’s greatest savings could come in the motors area. Twenty-two quantified cost-saving prospects were identified, totaling nearly $196,000 in potential cost savings, primarily through replacing older motors with newer, more energy-efficient ones. The area with the second-greatest savings opportunities is lighting. Sixteen prospects were identified with potential savings of more than $142,000. Because the T-12 fixtures being used at this facility are being discontinued, the company will upgrade to new high-efficiency options. “Exopack empowered its employees to find energy-saving opportunities at the grassroots level,” said Karen Dougherty, Access GE Leader. “Now that they’ve quantified and prioritized these energy-saving ideas, this is an opportunity to share the process and their learnings throughout the company.” The process began weeks in advance by calculating the facility’s energy spending by type to form a baseline of its current energy usage and expenses. Exopack’s Griffin facility manufactures coextruded polyethylene films used in the production of flexible packaging. At nearly 138,000 square feet, the plant is home to 126 employees. Read more at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ge-and-exopack-conduct-ecomagination-treasure-hunt-atgeorgia-manufacturing-facility-2011-09-22
GE Aviation’s local plant plays part in new engine Monday, October 17, 2011 The first GEnx, the fastest-selling, high-thrust jet engine in GE Aviation’s history, was delivered Oct. 12 on the new Boeing 747-8 to Cargolux - the first customer delivery for an engine which has helped to define the next generation of GE’s commercial engines. GE’s over 120-person facility in West Jefferson played an important role in developing rotating parts for the engine, supporting key manufacturing jobs that many see as the backbone of the American economy. Cargolux, a successful cargo carrier based in Luxembourg, is a launch customer for the GEnx-powered Boeing 747-8. Cargolux, with 13 Boeing 747-8 freighter aircraft on firm order, took delivery of its first two aircraft Oct. 12 and 13. In addition to powering the four-engine 747-8, the GEnx engine is also the best-selling engine for Boeing’s popular 787. Since its launch in 2004, the GEnx has received more than 1,300 orders with a list price value of more than $17 billion for 47 customers on the Boeing 747-8 (GEnx-2B engine) and the Boeing 787 (GEnx-1B). “This is a huge year for the GEnx,” said David Joyce, president of CEO of GE Aviation. “Its technical features make it a very unique jet engine resulting from more than a decade of concentrated focus on its development. Now, the engine can prove itself in operational service first with Cargolux, and then with many more customers over the next few years.” As the Boeing 747-8 and 787 fleets prepare to enter service, the GEnx engine production is dramatically ramping up. GEnx deliveries are growing in 2011 to more than 140 engines, compared to 67 deliveries in 2010. In 2012, GEnx deliveries are expected to surpass 200. The production ramp-up is increasing GEnx activity at GE Aviation’s large network of production sites. These sites and their contribution to the GEnx engine are in Ohio, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, and Indiana as well as several locations in North Carolina including West Jefferson. Based on proven GE90 architecture, the GEnx engine succeeds GE’s CF6 engine. Compared to the CF6 engine, the GEnx will offer up to 15 percent improved fuel efficiency, which translates to 15 percent less CO2. The GEnx’s innovative twin-annular pre-swirl (TAPS) combustor will dramatically reduce NOx gases as much as 60 percent below today’s regulatory limits and other regulated gases as much as 90 percent. Based on the ratio of decibels to pounds of thrust, the GEnx will be the quietest engine GE has produced due to the large, more efficient fan blades that operate at slower tip speed, resulting in about 30 percent lower noise levels. The GEnx will be the world’s only jet engine with both a front fan case and fan blades made of carbon fiber composites. GEnx innovations are also being incorporated into new GE engines under development including the recently-launched GE Passport engine for business jets and the LEAP engine, the next-generation engine from CFM International, the 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN GROUP) of France. Read more at http://www.jeffersonpost.com/view/full_story/16073875/article-GE-Aviation%E2%80%99s-localplant-plays-part-in-new-engine?instance=secondary_news_left_column
141 Green Jobs Created by the 10 Winners of GE’s Ecomagination Home Challenge Baltimore, MD (PRWEB) October 12, 2011 The Green Job Bank today released its second report on the green jobs created by the 10 winners of GE’s Ecomagination Home Challenge. The Green Job Bank is pleased to again report a positive trend, with 54 new green jobs posted on the companies websites in August (31 jobs) and September (23 jobs). Of the 10 companies, Hara Software, SunRun, Project Frog, GMZ Energy, Ember Corporation, and Witricity added job postings; On-Ramp Wireless, Nuventix, Viridity Energy, and VPhase had no new postings. These new jobs were all indexed by The Green Job Bank from the companies’ websites and are available on the search engine’s website. “This is a very positive report” said Bernard Ferret, founder and CEO of The Green Job Bank. “31 new open positions in August, and 23 in September represent a 50% increase from July. We hope that these companies continue to do well and create more green jobs.” This brings the total green jobs created to 141 since GE announced the 10 winners in June 2011. Green Job creation is a critical element of the solution to lift our economy out of the current recession, and The Green Job Bank is committed to expand its reporting. About The Green Job Bank With over 10,000 current green job postings, www.thegreenjobbank.com is the leading search engine for green jobs. The search engine, which was launched in 2009, crawls the web daily to provide the freshest listings available from thousands of websites. The listings come from green employers, industry associations, non-profit organizations, trade associations, research labs, green recruiters, and green job boards. The site features a directory of hundreds of green employer profiles and green education programs, enabling job seekers to research easily the green companies for which they want to work. Recently, the company announced a new service that indexes green jobs from green venture-funded startups. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/10/12/prweb8870447.DTL#ixzz1b6QCw6iv
Mahindra’s “Spark The Rise” Competition Aims To Tackle India’s Country-Wide Challenges By Ariel Schwartz Wed Oct 12, 2011 India is a fast-growing developing nation, but the country still faces plenty of challenges, including contaminated drinking water, polluted air, and a lack of infrastructure. Enter Mahindra’s Spark the Rise competition, where anyone who has a project that will “help India to rise” can submit their ideas related to technology, infrastructure and transportation, energy, agriculture and development, and social entrepreneurship--and get funding from Mahindra, which is the largest automaker in India and the biggest tractor manufacturer in the world. Think of it as India’s answer to the GE Ecomagination Challenge. After receiving over 1,000 entries in the first round of the competition and receiving nearly 10,000 votes, Mahindra chose the winners (each month, Mahindra is giving winning projects approximately $8,000). Below, we look at our favorites. The Hydraulic Wheel Lock This is something that could be useful in any country, but especially on crudely built rural roads. Designed by a group calling itself Team Passionates, the hydraulic wheel lock is a system that can lock any wheel on a car, preventing it from rotating. In the event that, say, your car gets stuck in the sand, the system can lock one of the wheels, causing all of the vehicle’s power to be used on the other wheels--and allowing you to get out from wherever you’re stuck. The design has already been tested on a small vehicle. Suicide Prevention Rod Suicide is a huge problem in India. And according to to India’s National Crime Record Bureau, 32% of all suicides in the country are committed by hanging from a ceiling fan. Inventor Sharad Ashani proposes a “safety down rod” that could be attached to ceiling fans. When someone tries to hang themselves, the rod will unlatch from the fan and deposit the person safely on the ground. That’s not to say that people won’t try other methods of suicide if the first one fails, but it’s a start--and a simple one, too. KFP Rainwater Harvesting One of the major causes of rural poverty in India is a lack of safe drinking water. Vijay Kedia’s KFP rainwater harvesting system gathers large amounts of rainwater underground using a durable plastic sheet that purportedly acts as a conduit for rainwater and allows it to seep into the ground, where it keeps soil moist and is added to available groundwater. The process can be seen in the animation above. Kedia says that the system has already been implemented in two Indian villages--now he just needs help taking it to scale. And that, of course, is where Spark the Rise comes in. Read more at http://www.fastcompany.com/1786843/mahindras-spark-the-rise-competition-aims-to-find-solutions-that-tackle-indias-problems
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