User Experience: The New Frontier to Innovation in a Whirling World
Nov 20, 2014
Polly Xu

Ever get the feeling that everything you thought was right turned out to be wrong? Everything seems to be speeding up and things are different and changing all day long. That’s what I feel inside GE. But I am certain this feeling is universal.

The world is at the threshold of a new era of innovation and change with the rise of internet. Technology is transforming virtually every business sector. Cloud computing is allowing supercomputers to shrink into your back pocket – mobile devices and digital tools are the new armors for everyone to access the world. All the world’s information and media is booming. Even the total market for news by 2020 is estimated around 5 billion people worldwide (source: FT).

This transformation is happening at an unprecedented pace, and will keep accelerating. Word-of-mouth has never been more powerful and customer expectations have never been higher. Companies are forced to look externally to focus on customers experience and satisfaction. Cracking out of the internet ground, a new path has emerged. But which way is the right journey that will lead companies to success?

These days given the ‘internet of things’, we can reach out to hundreds of thousands of potential customers by a single click. Face-to-face interaction is replaced by human-to-machine interface. User experience, commonly known as UX, thus has come onto the stage and has become one of the key investments inside corporations.

Doing business the same way is just not good enough. Take the example of designing vessels – matching the electrical system with the right engine and thrusters has been a laborious process, lasting on average up to 16 hours, spread over months.  This procedure is slow by design and in the long run it will not be sustainable in the Internet Century. But what will work?

After a comprehensive customer study, we learned that customers are constantly looking for engagement, responsiveness, independence and intimacy. Based on these four principles, we started a journey to shape a new digital experience. The tool we would design would be varied, but the foundation would remain identical.

The Vessel Performance Analyzer (VesPA) has been born on this journey. It provides a very visualized and simplified interface, enabling customers to experiment with different configuration / design of thruster, propulsion and electrical system independently. Experts at GE have tailored communication based on in-depth knowledge, giving trustworthy advice and quick response, enabling us to act collaboratively with customers by providing real time comparisons of multiple electrical configurations. By using this tool, customers can immediately see what choosing a different electrical system can do to change the engine and thruster. They will also be informed of the annual operational expenditures of the design, and therefore make better decisions on equipment selection to minimize fuel consumption and ultimately save money.

The real, effective digital tool can do amazing things, amazingly fast. Within ONE hour, the design of a vessel is completed!

In the 21st century where everything is changing so fast, keeping up with trends will never be enough. The ultimate strategy is to beat competitors and simply, lead. Opportunity is everywhere, smart ideas are everywhere, and innovation is everywhere. Start asking questions: Does it work? Can it be better? You will see the answer is always yes!

Related Posts

Polly Xu

Polly Xu is the global Commercial & Services Client CIO for Power Conversion BPT/IT. Polly leads the commercial and services BPT/IT team and supports the communications, marketing, sales, commercial operations, and field services teams within the Power Conversion business globally.

Polly joined GE via the ITLP program in 2005. Since then, she has taken several IT leadership roles in Power Generation, Energy Services, PGS, and Energy Connections. Polly is also the GE Women Network Greater China Women & Technology Initiative Leader.

Polly holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Automation and International Economics & Trade from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.