New task for CIOs: Make money

Sure, all CIOs seek to add value, but some are taking their quest outside the walls of the enterprise by targeting customers directly.

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The kiosks (designed by PHI tech workers but built by an outside vendor) can sit anywhere a client needs them, including third-party transportation terminals. PHI also offers a handheld device that uses fingerprint scans to quickly account for and track workers during evacuations off deep-sea rigs.

Anup Sharma
GE Oil & Gas CIO Anup Sharma's IT department developed a monitoring and diagnostics platform for the company's external customers.

The suite of software and hardware is a boon for PHI clients who were tracking travel and shipping data in spreadsheets or even with paper and pen, Quinn says. Loyal customers are worth much more to the company over the life of its relationships than the nice but comparatively small amount of revenue the products bring in, he says.

"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 department developed a monitoring and diagnostics platform for the company's external customers.

As at PHI, the IT team at GE Oil & Gas identified opportunities to add value for existing customers by giving them access to the big data and analytics housed within GE.

A few technologists worked with a product leader and an engineer over a period of 18 months to develop iBox, a Web-based application that allows 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 MyFleet, a Web-based application 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 the first product, 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.

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