By Peter High, published on Forbes
Vince Campisi joined United Technologies (UTC) as the Senior Vice President of Digital and Chief Information Officer in mid 2016 after most of two decades with General Electric. He spent the last year as the Chief Operating Officer of GE Digital, so he was quite familiar with the ideas behind digital transformation of a large, multi-operating company industrial business.
At United Technologies, he found an environment ripe for change. Digital transformation had begun in pockets in the four operating companies: Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engines, Otis Elevators, Climate Controls & Security [CCS], and UTC Aerospace Systems. That change had not been coordinated globally in a way that Campisi was used to. He embarked on a journey to foster more collaboration across the operating companies and one of the keys to this has been the development of the United Technologies Digital Accelerator in Brooklyn. The Accelerator is less than a year old, but UTC and Campisi have found a great group of digital leaders to drive change. The vision is for this to have multiple hundreds of people in the office in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn in the next year. Campisi describes the work of this team, the digital transformation more generally, and the need for digital leaders to play offense, defense, and special teams in order to win in the marketplace.
Peter High: You are the Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Digital at United Technologies. Can you talk about your purview as it relates to those two aspects of your role?
Vince Campisi: There is a lot of discussion around digital. Sometimes, that conversation happens concurrently with IT. For us, we wanted to make a conscious decision that those two things work hand in glove and not two different facets of the organization. Instead, they need to be driven in a way that takes advantage of what classic IT offers a company like us, as well as the aspirations of digital as it relates to how people think about it in the market today.
We see it on two dimensions. One is reinventing IT. For us, that is about how you would streamline critical business processes, improve sales processes, and improve manufacturing processes to improve inventory. It is also about infrastructure services, and how you enable computing at scale and make sure the employees have the resources they need to be productive. The second part is when we think about reinventing IT more effectively around cybersecurity. I would classify those as defensive capabilities. How do you protect the bottom line, drive productivity, and efficiency?
The second dimension which often gets classified as digital is how do you accelerate business growth? That is where Internet of Things for industry comes up, which goes hand in glove with data and analytics, and how you use those insights and software applications to grow value with your customers and help customers achieve new levels of value. That is the offensive dimension of how we use IT and digital to differentiate the company.
High: United Technologies is itself a diverse business. Could you talk about how IT is organized across the various companies of the organization and ultimately, how it reports up to you?
Campisi: We have four iconic franchises: Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engines, Otis Elevators, our Climate Controls & Security [CCS] business, and our UTC aerospace systems business, which recently announced a partnership with Rockwell Collins. Those are the four major business units. Within them, they have a variety of P&L’s and other facets because they are Fortune 200 companies in and of themselves. The way we think about it is they need to be in a position to differentiate and compete in their respective markets.
They each have a digital and an IT strategy that enables them to connect with their customers in a new way and differentiate themselves in the market. We then look for places where there is horizontal scale and horizontal leverage. From a technology architecture perspective, this could mean cloud computing. When we think about talent and the breadth of what the company has to offer, it creates a lot of opportunities for people to find new challenges and new ways of working across industries without having to change pay or benefits.
The third part is things like cybersecurity. The business units might decide on the appropriate platform for them or how they are going to develop a smart factory. We will have a reference architecture, but they will select the MES system that is best for what they need to do. There are places where we might have a stronger point of view for horizontal leverage around network, or email, or security tools. That is the balance between what we do centrally versus de-centrally.
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