GE Security: Seeking Growth in Video Solutions Amidst GE's Transformation
In January 2005, Robert Siegel paused to reflect on the whirlwind of activities that had consumed him over the past three months. In August 2004, Siegel joined General Electric’s $1.3 billion security division as the general manager of GE Video Solutions. Since then, he had been engrossed in learning the security and video businesses inside of GE, navigating his way through the massive and complex GE organization, and also managing a series of tactical challenges which included troubleshooting customer problems, debugging products, and fighting a series of operational fires in the North American video market. However, based on a number of recent and impending changes, Siegel recognized that it was time to start thinking more strategically. In December 2004, GE went through another restructuring that directly affected the security division (giving Siegel a new boss, among other changes). Additionally, an important video acquisition (on which the division had been working for months) had just fallen through. This incomplete deal not only left GE Security with a major gap in its video product portfolio, but had exacerbated an unhealthy lack of integration in the unit which Siegel’s new boss had just asked him to help address. Furthermore, under the direction of CEO Jeff Immelt, GE was in the midst of transforming itself from an operations-oriented and “growth through acquisition” organization to one with a greater focus on organic growth through internal new business development. The security business had historically demonstrated a strong track record of growth, but much of this had come from acquisitions rather than the organic growth that Immelt hoped to unleash within GE. As Siegel contemplated the direction of GE’s security business and, in particular, the video unit, he wondered what effect the corporate push toward organic growth would have on the strategy making process, as well as what constraints it might place on the group’s strategic alternatives.