GE CIO Discusses Citizen Developer

General Electric has been going through a remarkable transformation. It is one that has been trying, as the company has shed major business units and has a renewed focus on key areas such as GE Aviation, GE Healthcare, and GE Power. In the process, there is a cultural transformation afoot, as well.

I recently caught up with GE’s Global Chief Information Officer Chris Drumgoole, who has been in role for the past 18 months. His focus has been on talent, insourcing a lot of talent that had been outsourced. He also continues to evaluate the balance between common technologies across the diversified giant coupled with technology that addresses specific needs of each.

High: One of the themes you talked about in one of our recent conversations was the notion of the citizen developer. Could you define this term and its application to your organization?

Drumgoole: Different people use the term in different ways, but I believe it is probably the most transformative concept that is going to happen in IT over the next several years. When I look across our global employee base, we have as much coding software and technology talent as we likely had in IT several years ago. That model is increasing, so our employees across all of our businesses are becoming more technical. They are figuring out ways to solve their own problems and their customers’ problems. Our transformation is focused on enabling them to do that and do it well. We want a finance person, a power engineer, or an aviation person to be able to write their own software and applications. They are obviously not writing the next ERP for the company, but they might be coming up with a unique software solution that solves their particular problem. We want to build a world where we can encourage that and give them the right tools to do that. We can put the right security in place to make sure that it does not expose the company to risk. In the next stage of the digital transformation, it is going to be about pushing that empowerment to the users to let them make decisions.

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