On Wednesday I was talking with Bill Ruh, GE Digital’s CEO and he was explaining how AI and digital will transform industries. He had riveting ideas like how autonomous cars can change the structure of the automobile industry where we might go into a shared economy and the manufacturers and service providers – not the consumers – might actually own the car. I was listening. He continued and shared insights on energy and other industries.

As background Bill has two roles. One is overseeing the 26,000 person team at GE Digital and he also is Chief Digital Officer at GE. I thought this dual role provides him an important inside/outside perspective. So I asked Bill how CEOs should prepare for the digital world. Bill explained, “The concept of digitally transforming your organization can be daunting, but know that the risk of not adapting and remaining complacent has the potential to drive you out of business. So, as you start your transformation, remember that you are innovating for a reason – to not only exist in the market, but to thrive in it. The starting point for digital transformation is gaining mastery of your assets. Connect your assets, connect your system of assets, and then build the ecosystem and select the right partners. This enables you to bring the data in to drive outcomes and productivity to ultimately transform how you do business.

So for any CEOs — and I believe for manufacturing CEOs this is probably of heightened importance — take heed of Ruh’s wisdom and start with your assets, as that will help you build the strategy to capitalized on the new transformative digital world.