Most digital transformations by large companies will fail because those companies hire the wrong people to lead that transition.

That was the stark warning laid out by Ganesh Bell, vice-president of GE Digital, at a conference in London.

Bell said that “the chances are very bleak” for big corporates to transform. “Most digital transformations will fail because most people who think about it don’t know who to hire. I see so many companies that have hired somebody to lead digital, and they don’t even know if they have the right person. They just saw that they came from Google or Amazon – but they didn’t even know what they did at Google or Amazon.“‘Most digital transformations will fail’ says GE Digital chief Ganesh Bell

Speaking at a conference called Energy 4.0: When Internet Meets Energy – organised by Eurelectric and Poyry – Bell said that for people who are tasked with leading a digital transformation, “there is only one job – make sure you have to have a very strong belief system at the top”.

“If you don’t have a belief system, you will fail. Make sure your chairman and your CEO has a belief system. If they don’t – stop everything else. Don’t hire a single person. Have a meeting on a regular basis and ‘get their religion back’.

He also said that in the energy sector, “dispution is going to come from the customer. And those customers aren’t just individual consumers, they’re companies. Apple decides to build a campus and go all renewables, that has an impact – other companies will follow.

“We are not looking at electrification as just individuals replacing their cars – autonomous cars may happen soon and every one of them may be electric. Uber may have the largest network of batteries and be able to replace an entire fleet in a matter of months.”

Bell has written an exclusive article for Power Engineering International, which will appear in the next issue of the magazine. In it, he outlines what will it take for digitalization to become a mainstream reality.

He says: “I have long held a belief that every industry will be reimagined with software, and I foresee an end-to-end digitalized electricity value network. It will be a network in which every node doesn’t just generate or consume electricity, it also generates a data bit for every electron.‘Most digital transformations will fail’ says GE Digital chief Ganesh Bell

“And the data generated will fuel our industry’s ability to drive-up efficiency, lower emissions, and bring more flexibility and resilience to generation and to the grid. It will also transform the way we operate and maintain our assets, and streamline labour-intensive processes.

“Digitalization will give the industry the insights it needs to intelligently manage demand and supply from a proliferation of electrified buildings and vehicles. A connected Electricity Value Network will ultimately enable the creation of an Internet of Energy, and with it new business models for providers and more choice for consumers.”

And he says that “the journey to the empowered consumer begins with the digitalization of central generation and the grid. Without digitalized generation, no power producer will have the insights it needs to forecast accurately and trade intelligently in a digital marketplace.  Without a digital grid, we can’t possibly seamlessly integrate distributed energy resources, nor put the power of choice in the hands of our customers.”

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