GE loses IT strategy force as CIO set to join Nationwide
General Electric CIO Jim Fowler is stepping down from the organization to serve as the CIO of Nationwide, according to an announcement Thursday from Nationwide. Fowler is succeeding current Nationwide CIO Mike Keller who is set to retire later this year.
As Fowler moves to Nationwide, he will have another large organization's technology portfolio under his management. Building on his predecessor's work to create a more modern IT delivery model, Fowler will lead Nationwide's "technology strategy and IT capabilities," according to the announcement. In particular, his focus will surround delivering business transformation programs.
Fowler has worked at GE since 2000, serving as CIO across different lines of business before eventually working in his current role. He does not have a departure date from GE. The interim CIO will be Chris Drumgoole, currently serving as chief technology officer and corporate vice president at GE. GE declined to provide a statement about Fowler's departure.
Former CEO Jeff Immelt had spent 16 years as the chief executive before he stepped down in August last year. Immelt was critical in driving GE to become more technologically savvy and a leading driver in maturing the industrial internet.
Though GE moved away from plans to build out data centers for the Predix Cloud, instead focusing on hardware already in-house and prioritizing cloud services and applications.
Fowler was key in driving GE's advancement of the industrial cloud, using the internal organization as a proving ground for the company's commercial technology. In 2017, Fowler said he used the Predix platform to improve productivity by $700 million.
Digital transformation is a priority for enterprises across industries and Fowler has a clear focus on the roles executives need to take as companies modernize. CIOs serve as experts in creating a more effective and productive workplace, Fowler said, speaking last year at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Chief digital officers, however, focus on selling the commercial digital products to outside customers.
The "CIO is focused on GE for GE," Fowler said, but GE's CDO is responsible for creating a high-valued software business.
At Nationwide, Fowler will have to once again use technology to meet customer demands, but in a much different setting. With consumer products, Fowler will have to employ a more agile type of technology that is as responsive as users have come to rely on in their mobile-centric lives.
Follow Naomi Eide on Twitter