When Jeffrey Immelt decided to sell GE Lighting earlier this month, the General Electric Co. (GE) CEO made it clear that the manufacturer wasn't abandoning the illumination business altogether.
While the division that made consumer light bulbs -- the product most closely linked to founder Thomas Edison -- will be offered to one or more buyers, Boston-based GE will keep producing the professional lighting systems it markets under the Current brand.
The logic behind the decision is rooted in the company's strategy. Current, which specializes in LED lamps as well as computer systems that control them and are capable of monitoring and optimizing energy usage, epitomizes the retiring CEO's effort to reshape GE from a sprawling conglomerate with unrelated businesses to a lean digital manufacturer.
It's also a growing business, with revenue up 3% in the three months through January and an announcement today that work has begun on adding Current's new Allsites energy management system to some 4,500 of banking giant JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) U.S. branches.
AllSites, an application created in the Predix platform that GE built to do for factories what Apple's iOS and Google's Android did for smartphones -- will use sensors, software and lighting controls to curb electricity and gas usage at Chase branches by 15%, saving a couple hundred million dollars over 10 years.
"We're going to have better control over our lighting, air conditioning and heating so that we're not running it all day and night," Mike Norton, the head of property management for the bank's real estate, said in a telephone interview. "We're going to have periods of time when we shut it down. That'll help us be more economically efficient."