When the going gets tough, the tough collaborate
This is a strange and fascinating time for our industry. We are at the forefront of trying to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges – providing for the world’s growing need for energy while seeking to reduce our carbon footprint. The boundaries between us and other sectors, once clear cut, are blurring. Not only do we truly learn from partners as never before, but we also learn and share learnings with other sectors, from healthcare to space. And all of this change, challenge and excitement is overlaid by huge market pressures, challenging our very existence and demanding more of us each day.
Although the scale of the challenge, blurring of industry boundaries and pressure on costs can feel overwhelming, they also all drive us in the same direction: more collaboration to deliver unprecedented innovation. Only together can we make the change needed to face this new environment head on.
Our industry’s collective expertise is astonishing. But for too long we have worked in silos, individually competing to be the first to address each new challenge. Yet things are changing, and we have finally begun to recognize that the scale of some of the challenges we face means that, to tackle them, we must work together. Meeting growing global energy demands while ensuring our industry is increasingly sustainable is one such challenge.
Because of this, last year we launched an ambitious collaboration with Statoil to accelerate the development of more environmentally and economically sustainable energy solutions. This joint technology focused programme is aimed at driving an industrial response to some of the greatest challenges facing global energy production. The Powering Collaboration initiative is carefully designed to blend our expertise and resources to develop new industry solutions, and is complemented by ideas, solutions and inspiration from crowdsourcing challenges. By using open innovation to source solutions to real issues faced by oil and gas operations, we can help our industry to think bigger.
This reflects our belief at GE that the greatest inspiration often comes from surprising sources. That’s why we are so proud of our “GE Store”, which provides sector experts unparalleled access to knowledge and technology from other sectors, driving collaboration and innovation. Through the GE Store we have brought technologies used in the sky to the depths of the ocean, taking alternators from GE Aviation aircraft engines and using them to improve motors that are pumping oil from the ground all around the world. At the same time, the aviation team has learned from our expertise in oil and gas, taking Ceramic Matrix Composites, a material that withstands heat better than metal, from our gas turbines business and using it to improve engine efficiency and performance in aircraft engines.
The partnership between Chevron and NASA is another exciting example of this cross-fertilization approach. The two organizations have recently come together, acknowledging synergies between the harsh environments in which they both work, to develop a range of advanced technologies that can be used in these challenging locations, both on Earth and in space.
When the going gets tough, we all have a tendency to close ourselves off to new ideas, focusing on what we know. And yet, during this industry downturn, the drive for collaboration, co-creation and innovation grows unabated. More than ever before, our industry is facing global challenges head on and acknowledging its role in delivering innovative solutions to tackle these. I am proud to be part of an industry asking itself the hard questions and knocking down age-old barriers to tackle them, and I look forward to the amazing solutions these collaborations bring to the fore.