Several factors have helped Eaton build and sustain its competitiveness, according to Eaton's chief technology officer Ramanath Ramakrishnan. Ramakrishnan, speaking at the American Energy Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit in December, described three factors that have helped the company compete effectively in a rapidly changing world:
- Diversification. Over the past 10-15 years, Ramakrishnan says Eaton has a done a great job of diversifying its portfolio. "From what started off as an automotive business, now we are in aerospace, hydraulics and electrical … We now have a portfolio that plays really nicely into all the different economic cycles," something he says helps the company hedge ups and downs in markets and economies.
- Globalization. Ramakrishnan says 50 percent of Eaton's 2012 sales came from outside of the U.S. Geographically expanding where the company sells, makes and buys products, he says, helps Eaton competitively.
- Balanced centralized/decentralized structures. Regional teams who are close to their customers can best understand those local customer needs and the different pace of change required in different regions, Ramakrishnan said. At the same time, because Eaton operates as an integrated company, it can leverage talent and research and development capabilities from around the globe. "There is a very nice rhythm that happens" from running the company in an integrated way, he says.