David Burns

Chief Information Officer, GE Aviation

Supernova Award Category: 

Data to Decisions

The Organization: 

GE Aviation is a subsidiary of General Electric Corporation. Headquartered in Cincinnati OH, GE Aviation is a world-leading provider of commercial, military and business and general aviation jet and turboprop engines and components as well as avionics, electrical power and mechanical systems for aircraft. GE has a global service network to support these offerings. GE and its customers are also working together to unlock new opportunities to grow and deliver more productivity beyond traditional services. GE Aviation is becoming a digital industrial business with its ability to harness large streams of data that are providing incredible insights and in turn, real operational value for customers.

The Problem: 

GE Aviation is currently seeing unprecedented growth. In 2018, GE Aviation generated $30.6 billion in revenue, up 13% from the previous year. This growth has resulted in tremendous pressure on GE Aviation's supply chain. GE Aviation has close to 100 manufacturing / services sites world-wide and supplier base of close to 1000 suppliers.

Add to this, GE Aviation's supply chain is extremely complex with close to 800 disparate applications / systems, each creating siloed data. There was a real problem in getting timely visibility to data across the supply chain systems in a timely manner to make informed decisions. While ERP transformations / simplifications are underway, these are time-consuming and resource intensive. GE Aviation supply chain leadership was depending on legacy data warehousing based reports to make critical decisions, often based on stale data.

While setting up a modern data analytics capability was important, changing people behavior and increasing adoption was a bigger challenge.

The Solution: 

Under David Burns' leadership, GE Aviation launched the Digital League initiative in 2018. GE Aviation started its journey to create a data-lake in 2015, with limited success. Given the disparateness of the data coming from the various systems / sites - David quickly identified that traditional big data analytics was not leading the right results.

David setup the Chief Data Officer's organization (CDOO) with a clear charter to drive the Digital League initiative - to enable business stakeholders to get visibility to data at their fingertips and in a timely manner. David created key focus groups for better data ingestion, data engineering and data visualization / analytics.

To drive organizational change and end-user adoption, David partnered with the business leaders to get resources assigned to the Digital League initiative full-time. This enabled better data engineering and data stitching, which in-turn improved the overall quality of the data analytics.

The Results: 

- GE Aviation now has over 2000 active self-service users and has democratized data and empowered employees to leverage data and analytics to deliver outcomes without having to go through IT support

- Digital League and the data lake enabled ~$800MM of cost out of our LEAP engine program (one of GE Aviation's newest engine programs)

- Digital League is helping with tremendous improvements across key pillar focus areas like Cash and Delivery, while reducing / eliminating Hidden Factories.

- Digital League tools like On-Time Delivery reports, Supplier Analytics, Repair Analytics etc. have now become central to daily functioning of several key groups.

- By getting business teams to partner with IT in the Digital League journey, and creating "change champions", GE Aviation has managed to fundamentally change the behaviors across various value streams and drive consistency and repeatability.


- Improved On-Time Delivery / Service Levels --> drove more than 20% improvement of Customer Satisfaction Levels

- ~800 M cost out in just one engine program (LEAP). Continued cost-out for all engine programs, across all sites.

- 10% plus improvement of Cash Flow

- Modernize employee experience and drive automation / reduction of paper-trail

- Enable application portfolio simplification in parallel, to enable IT cost reduction of greater than USD 500 M.

The Technology: 

Main tools / tech stack: Data Lake hosted in AWS cloud, HVR / Talend for data ingestion, Tibco Spotfire for data visualtization.

CDOO team is at the cutting edge of using innovation and continuously pivoting to drive better / faster outcomes.

Disruptive Factor: 

Digital League initiative has completely transformed the manner in which GE Aviation operates. Digital League has created a deeper understanding of how the GE Aviation business operates and enabled faster / smarter decision making through application of data science and process analytics. Digital League built Aviation’s Data Lake to fuel analytics and insights for better business outcomes. Pulled from 250 sources and 70 terabytes strong – that’s nearly 31 billion single-spaced typewritten pages -- it’s used by more than 2,000 employees and is growing fast.

Shining Moment: 

Digital League initiative was showcased to new GE CEO, Larry Culp and GE Aviation CEO, David Joyce - and received plaudits. David is now working with other GE leaders on taking Digital League to the next level by bringing other GE strengths to the Digital League initiative like Six Sigma, Lean, CAP and Agile - and expanding the purview of the initiative to the entire enterprise.

About Your Organization

GE Aviation is a world-leading provider of commercial, military and business and general aviation jet and turboprop engines and components as well as avionics, electrical power and mechanical systems for aircraft.