NEW YORK: General Electric, the conglomerate, is taking an increasingly customer-centric approach to innovation, a decision that has helped the company develop a range of new products and services.

"Innovation at GE is starting to change," Alex Tepper, GE's global director/innovation, told delegates at the recent Chief Strategy Officer Summit, held in New York and organised by the Innovation Enterprise.

Delving into the specifics shows that the corporation's strategy in this area now reads like an entry from the marketing playbook, rather than a pure technology play. (For more, including how Apple helped inspire GE's new R&D model, read Warc's exclusive report: How innovation is changing at GE.)

"Know your customers' pain-points. Get as close to your customers as you possibly can … The more information from the customer you have, the better," said Tepper.

This drive for customer-centricity has been highly influential on contemporary discussions of brand management, especially as consumers have become empowered by digital devices and channels.

GE has drawn on similar inspiration when developing its own approach, so as to combine industry-leading products with a deep understanding of clients' challenges and evolving requirements.

"We have always been a technology-led innovation company. We're starting to shift to market-led innovation and coupling these two," Tepper said.

"It sounds fairly common-sense, but it's really not the way that GE used to be run. It used to be very focused on particular technologies."

Adopting such a model has allowed the firm – which operates in categories from aviation to healthcare and financial services – to outline its own internal vision and future planning, too.

"We are very focused on what are that particular industry's customers' viewpoints, but then also – strategically – what do we at GE want to do for the next year, three years, five years?" said Tepper.

"We want to start to build those capabilities so it all dovetails together and we can really hit the market hard for whatever it is."

Data sourced from Warc