Immelt said GE was using on-demand technology to increase the percentage of company resources that were directly involved in revenue growth. GE has reduced the number of its systems platforms by 20 percent in pursuit of this goal, he said. The company has also slashed the number of accounting applications that it runs by 70 percent.
As an example of the meeting between business processes and IT, Immelt showed a real estate underwriting application that GE executives were using to standardize the company's real estate acquisition process. GE standardizes the information technology component of two or three business processes each year that the company has defined using the Six Sigma quality control methodology, he said.
But exactly where IBM's on-demand effort is aiding this effort was left unclear, and when an audience member asked Immelt to explain what kind of on-demand job skills his company was seeking, GE's CEO referred the question to Palmisano.
Whatever the precise definition of on-demand may be, Palmisano was adamant that it would be built on open standards like Linux, Java, and the emerging OGSA (Open Grid Services Architecture) grid standard.
Palmisano said that 50,000 companies had begun switching their Windows applications to Linux. He added the Grid is now beginning to attract attention outside of academia as an architecture for business analytics. "A year ago we said that grid computing is real today," he said. "There are 100 companies that are there now. And guess what, they're not doing particle physics."