One of the most crucial topics being discussed in IT now is the priority given to innovation – specifically, embedding it within the DNA of a corporate culture.

It’s an increasingly difficult task, especially for mid-sized and larger companies. But there are plenty of examples of those doing it right.

General Electric has proven itself to incorporate forward-thinking ideas. The company has even spent millions on a battery factory, embedding it with electronic sensors and state of the art equipment to keep track of every single component and change at the manufacturing level.

Now, the company has announced its new initiative – a set of principles guiding research and development priority over the next few years. According to Re/Code, the principles include the expansion of the “industrial internet” – embedding its factories in the “internet of things”.

The company told the publication its system used to help factories talk to each other may even be sold to third parties.

Overall, the company says it has $220 billion in backlogged orders due to research and development undertaken over the past 10 years.

It’s often difficult for businesses to specific how they want their innovation to occur. For smaller businesses, innovating can often be a distraction from achieving their own business plan. For larger companies, innovation can often feel as though it’s taking resources away from more important ventures.

On the other hand, start-ups put so much effort into innovation, it can sometimes be a detriment or a distraction. Getting the balance right is crucial.

GE’s example won’t work for all businesses, but the principle remains the same – innovation needs to be a priority. Laying out a roadmap of investment in future projects can help keep focus while still experimenting with the trends and movements that will define the next decade. (Specifically, structural transformation and the shift to a connected world in which devices speak to each other).

Open innovation looks different for every company. But GE’s example of setting innovation and R&D as a priority is a must. Falling behind is more likely than ever – which means carving out specific strategies for innovation and R&D is essential.