GE Capital's Dashboard Drives Metrics To Desktops

sidebar story to, "Analysis Gap"

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

April 18, 2002

2 Min Read

GE Capital Corp., General Electric Co.'s financial-services operation, is made up of more than two dozen units, ranging from consumer credit cards and mortgages to IS financing. To help GE Capital's top executives and the operating unit general managers stay on top of the business, the company is implementing a digital dashboard system--fondly known as "the cockpit"--that delivers critical performance metrics to the desktops of every decision maker.

GE Capital began implementing its dashboard system early last year and expects to have it running in all 25 of its businesses by year's end. General managers and other executives have a dashboard-like interface on their PCs that, at a glance, provides them with data and performance metrics about their businesses, such as daily, weekly, or monthly sales figures. It lets them quickly take advantage of business opportunities, such as a drop in interest rates, or mitigate threats or problems.

The system can alert managers when the number of loans in default is growing or when GE's call centers aren't responding to client queries quickly enough. Managers can drill down on the information presented to them if they need more details. "It gives a tremendous amount of power to a general manager to manage the business by," says Mike Stout, GE Capital's VP and chief technology and information officer.

Each business unit has a data warehouse that pulls information from the unit's operational applications, such as general-ledger, point-of-sale, and human-resource systems. Because many of the businesses were acquired, each has its own IT system, Stout says. Each unit's warehouse constantly updates all the dashboards within that unit. Information from those data warehouses is rolled up to a data warehouse for GE Capital's top managers, who monitor the operating units' performance via yet another dashboard. Stout keeps an eye on all of GE Capital's IT operations with his own dashboard.

When designing the analytical systems, the IT department decided it was best to provide each operating unit with a customized dashboard. "We struggled whether to have one standard cockpit for the company," Stout says. But it was clear that management information needs in each unit were unique and a generic dashboard would fail. Another struggle was the process of creating common definitions for metrics such as revenue, sales, and assets.

Stout says having such common definitions ensures that all managers are speaking the same language. And now, with up-to-date business information, managers can make sure that their units are answering to GE's bottom line.

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