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In Good Company: GE Makes Fortune’s World’s Most Admired List

Fortune magazine published this week “the definitive report card on corporate reputations” a.k.a. its World’s Most Admired Companies list. GE jumped to No. 10, up one spot from last year and five places higher compared to 2012.

“As the world’s largest producer of commercial jet engines as well as the creator of the garbage disposal, GE’s expertise in manufacturing is sky high  ̶  and growing,” the magazine said.

This is third time in a month that GE ranked high in a prominent survey. Both MIT Technology Review and Fast Company put GE on their respective lists of the most innovative companies for its embrace of big data. In November, Popular Science wrote that GE’s first wind turbine connected to the Industrial Internet was one of the year’s “100 greatest innovations.”

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Scientists at GE Global Research are working with magnetically charged liquids called ferrofluids. They could have applications in medicine, power generation and elsewhere. GE is investing heavily in organic growth. A decade ago, it used to spend 2 percent of revenues on R&D. It now spends 5 to 6 percent.

Barron’s observed in 2013 that GE was “transforming itself into a seller of services” rather than just equipment. “Airlines can use data from hundreds of GE sensors to reduce fuel costs and plan maintenance,” the newspaper wrote. “Railroads can do the same to optimize trips. Software now contributes $4 billion a year to GE’s revenue. And service contracts create a stream of high-margin income that can last for the life of the equipment the company sells—in some cases, three or four decades.”

Says Jeff Immelt, GE Chairman and CEO: “Industrial data is not only big, it’s the most critical and complex type of big data. Our greatest challenge and opportunity is to manage and analyze this data in a highly secure way to deliver better outcomes for customers and society.”

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