Fairfield, Conn.--In a major shift to boost its Internet strategy, General Electric Co. has established a b-to-b e-commerce unit, GE Global Exchange Services. The unit was formed when General Electric Co. split its GE Information Services unit into two; the other half, GE Systems Services, will provide off line support, including legacy systems maintenance, to GE Global Exchange Services. GE Global Exchange Services will provide e-commerce software and consulting services. General Electric executives decided to make the shift so the company could better compete with technology vendors such as Ariba, said Pam Wickham, e-commerce public relations manager. About 1,500 employees have been assigned to GE Global Exchange Services, a number expected to increase over the coming year, said Wickham, who declined to provide numbers.