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July 08, 2008

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» Working with People You Can't Be With Daily Report (July 9, 2008) from Working with People You Can't Be With
The People Part of Working with People You Can't Be With Chuck from EMC reflects on a recent interaction with GE about SupportCentral, a social productivity platform that GE has been working on since 1999. " ... it became apparent [Read More]

Comments

GE SupportCentral user

Chuck,

Yes, SupportCentral has been around a long time. The single greatest weakness of the toolset is that you cannot find anything in it - so the tool's usefulness is significantly limited.

Fellow Collaboration Buff

Chuck,

Thanks for the valuable insight. It's nice to see that social networks, or should I say professional networks, and various collaboration tools are working in the corporate environment. Heck, if it's transforming the way GE does business, it sounds like it can work anywhere.

Jim Cinquegrana

Chuck, thanks for your unbiased review of SupportCentral. As a member of the SupportCentral team I can confirm your analysis is spot on.

D

Maybe it's been around so long at GE we don't appreciate it. It's got some very good qualities and needs help in others, as would any app.

Paul Cummins

Chuck,

I am the manager of an Engineering productivity team (non-IT/IM) at GE Aviation. We call the SupportCentral Tool Suite functionality the best kept secret within GE. My team stumbled onto the impact its functionality can have on productivity 2 yrs ago. Before that, I was much like the other gentleman and was frustrated with being able to find information. I understand now that I just didn't understand the search functionality, and the amazing database, workflow and other integrated tools that are available. But beyond that, the power of SupportCentral is the empowerment it brings to the individual. It is a self-serve system that allows a non-IT process owner to create applications that digitize their processes. All with point and click-- no programming. My team is able to not only create specialized applications in days/weeks, but also to mentor anyone that is interested in how they can do it themselves. It is a paradigm shift in the way IT/IM can run their business. Now the IT team can mentor/lead process owners to create their own applications-- no need to outsource and wait for months for a solution that isn't quite what the process owner really wanted. And the process owner has the power to tweak the solution to exactly meet their needs. Just in our small corner of Aviation, we are saving ~$11M in real productivity this year.

Rosemary Reilly

Hello Chuck,

It is so refreshing to see your professional impression being so spot on about Support Central .. GE does not understand what they have here and take it for granted in so many ways!

Yes, SupportCentral has been around a long time at GE and yes due to the ability of anyone to add/update etc the abundance of information makes it difficult to "find anything" (result of no limits or rules/guidleine on who can post what) BUT the IT team is even improving that by creating creative useful ways to search!

This tool is so empowering in so many ways .. one quick example is that I was able to set up a workflow that Japanese co-workers could enter in their own language (supports dozens of languages!) have it translated and processed here in the US with NO IT dollars or resources needed!

We have processes that collect information (pdf, datafile and video recordingings) from internal and external contacts that can be posted into dashboards and automatically forwarded into Surveys, workflow forms, and project actions. Once again no IT resources needed for us to create this!

The tool is amazing and for sale to outsiders if interested!

I have set up a LinkedIn group of users http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/137865/0BA7CF6ACE09

Please join us if you want!

Rosemary Reilly
Passionate Support Central Geek!

KM fan

This guy Chris is part of their team on the fringes, I saw him speak at Wharton:

http://mackcenter.wharton.upenn.edu/ConfAgendas_2008/Agenda_Feb1_08_ETUpdateDay.html

- he usually does stuff at NBC with all their metrics traffic, he's part of that secret sauce, someone should interview him, he's a very unique and quietly inventive guy, does stuff with a GE lab too.

Justin Davies

Chuck
I am IT Program Leader at SABIC Innovative Plastics. Our Plastics division was sold by GE last year. We decided SupportCentral was a tool we could not live without after the sale of our division was announced. It would have taken 3 or 4 products to replace the functionality we got out of SupportCentral. Hence we have implemented our own SABIC instance of SupportCentral. It supports many business critical processes across the globe. We also use it to aid collaboration with our vendors/customers.

Chuck Hollis

Learning about SupportCentral was an amazing experience.

Thanks for sharing your perspective!

SupportCentral - Passionate User

Chuck

We at TCS have been part of the team that built SupportCentral for GE. Today, we take SupportCentral for several corporations across the globe. SC is a business transformation tool as you rightly observed. The cool thing about SC is its ability to attract people and increase adoption. I have not come across any other equivalent product in the market that does even 10% of what SC does. We at TCS are proud to be part of this great futuristic solution - SupportCentral

Gitendra E. Chitty

Chuck,

As the former Business Solutions and Marketing Manager for SupportCentral for several years, it is rewarding to hear your thoughts on what is decidedly one of GE's best kept secrets. It's nice to see an amazing team -that often flies beneath the radar- recognised publicly.

SupportCentral has gained tremendous traction and proven that the best designers of any software are the end customers who use it every day (in GE's case, over 400,000 people). Chris Johannessen, Rosemary Reilly, Justin Davis, Paul Cummins, and other passionate evangelists throughout the GE businesses are, indeed, part of the "secret sauce" and deserve as much commendation as the SupportCentral team itself. It's no wonder, then, that SC's rapid deployment and development cycle and its customer-driven enhancement process make it the choice of today's knowledge workers at GE and elsewhere who can shape product design!

Effective collaboration, communication, and process digitization are essential success factors for any large corporation, and I have yet to find a single other software platform that is as comprehensive or effective as SupportCentral. I certainly miss having it at MY fingertips every day!

Davide

Hi everybody, I am a researcher at Political Science School at the University of Florence. I recently done an empirical research on foreign investors in Florence (especially those operating in mechanic and electronic sectors) and on their contribution to the local economic development. I interviewed 15 managers including personnel of GE Nuovo Pignone and GE Transportation System.
I am now interested in exploring the actual role played by ICTs in the globalization process looking at the software development and actual use within multinationals corporations. I am writing down an article to be presented in Darmstadt, Germany, next October. I'd like to address the following question to you: In which specific ways SupportCentral facilitate to set up new global organizational setting of work? What is the supposed or actual impact of this kind of technology in the (foreign)supplier firm and what would be the impact on localities where the firms are placed? (i.e. employment and training policies upgrade, local policies etc.). I don't know whether I expressed my need clearly but I really appreciate any help that would come from you.

Akshay

Hi Chuck - You got the name of the SupportCentral Team Leader wrong. The SC team is led by Sukh Grewal and not by Mark Mastrianni.

Chuck Hollis

My apologies to Sukh!

JGeeWah

I was a Support Central user at GE for many years (until I left GE), and it is an excellent knowledge management tool to bring together subject matter experts from various businesses.

We need more Support Centrals around the world to leverage and share the smart people and what they're working on.

Bob Lobley

Hi Chuck! I was a little dismayed that until Akshay's post, that Sukh was not mentioned. While the true heart and soul of SC is its devoted user base(yes...I am an SC geek too), its leader is Sukh. He is a delightful and engaging individual whose vision, energy, and passion around the concept of self serve, distributed "IT for the masses" is one of the key drivers of SC's success. If you get the chance, you simply must travel to New Haven and meet this extraordinary gentleman!

Iain

What GE has done is interesting and has obviously delivered benefits to GE but it is very specific to GE - it not a product. However, technology has caught up and gone beyond what GE has. There is now an off the shelf collaborative system that will deliver a 'collaborative backbone' or 'digital nervous network' with perhaps enhanced capability and greater ease of use and configuration - we can all have a collaborative system. Align this to a contextual information delivery system (another unique product that has emerged) and you have the makings of a new revolution in business design and operation.

Chuck Hollis

All valid points -- at the time they embarked on this journey, there were no standard components to work with, so to speak.

That being said, I believe that they've been able to evolve and integrate their platform capability far beyond anything I've seen of, or heard of, in the marketplace. And I've seen a lot.

And, of course, it's their platform, and -- unless they make serious investments to productize their platform -- it's not really a candidate for others.

Another perspective is that their functionality vastly exceeds the ability of most organizations to consume it. What I saw was a symbiotic co-evolution over a long period of time, which was fascinating.

And -- finally -- it was amazing on how the platform had fundamentally changed how GE worked.

Thanks for sharing.

Ajay Krishnaswamy

Because it is an unfamiliar paradigm, one can understand the hesitation about SupportCentral as a product. The productization of SupportCentral was completed by TCS over two years ago. Surprisingly, productizing SupportCentral was far less of a challenge than what it appeared to be. Today, there are several organizations, other than GE, who have procured and are running their own instance of SupportCentral.

There is nothing in SupportCentral so specific to GE that it cannot be used elsewhere - in fact it is quite the opposite, because it has succeeded in GE which, as a customer is generally considered the gold standard for software, it has the potential to succeed anywhere - from small companies of less than a thousand people to large ones with several hundred thousand. After all, in GE, SupportCentral is used by large groups that make the biggest jet engines and small teams that put out shows such as Late Night with Conan O-Brien.

As Chuck points out, it is absolutely true that it is a challenge for any organization to digest or even imagine all that SupportCentral offers. Fortunately, our experience shows that many of our customers gain significant ROI quite rapidly as knowledge workers tap their own creativity, learn from other best practices, and attack long-standing pain points using the SupportCentral platform. For some of our customers, SupportCentral has become a business critical application within months of its installation. SupportCentral with its smooth and empowering design slides right in and begins to provide value almost immediately; even the first five people who start using SupportCentral get value out of it - it is not all or nothing.

For more information on getting your own SupportCentral, please contact me at ajay.krishnaswamy@tcs.com

Chuck Hollis

Ajay, with all due respect ...

Yes, technically, GE will offer SupportCentral for sale to interested parties.

But, at the same time, most potential customers will expect that GE will also make an investment in the surrounding infrastructure required to make customers comfortable and successful.

Things like Marketing. Sales. Customer Support. Professional Services. And more.

There's a difference between having something that could be potentially sold, and being in the business of selling something.

Best regards!

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