GE CEO makes case for industrial Internet, analytics opportunities

GE's CEO acknowledged "Industrial Internet is a fancy phrase,"positing the Industrial Internet could be "twice the size" of the consumer Internet.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---Technology has created immense value for tech companies themselves, and consumers have been primary beneficiaries of the Internet age.

But now it's time for industrial companies to cash in on the opportunity and promise of the "next age of productivity," according to General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.

"Productivity remains absolutely critical to the future of our industries," Immelt opined at the global conglomerate's Minds & Machines summit on Tuesday.

Immelt admitted as recently as five years ago that no one at GE had a clue about what the industrial Internet was or meant.

The chief executive also acknowledged "Industrial Internet is a fancy phrase," following up to define it as ensuring no downtime and getting productivity where it should be, positing the Industrial Internet could be "twice the size" of the consumer Internet.

Immelt specified what differentiates the Industrial Internet from the consumer Internet is that the former requires both horizontal and vertical presence, meaning the ability to write apps that are successful for specific settings, such as healthcare or transportation.

"It's not a concept. It's reality," Immelt insisted. "It's not just going to be inside GE."

As one example of how the industrial Internet has transformed companies inside and out, Immelt cited the evolving role of the chief information officer.

"Our CIOs have gone from software purchasers to being app writers," Immelt quipped, adding how IT decisions are bouncing back and forth between the front room and the back room, positioning CIOs as both revenue growth and productivity leaders.

Over the next year, Immelt briefly outlined GE's data and cloud goals, starting with establishing Predix and the industrial cloud, promoting asset performance management as "seminal way to get started with the Internet," linking up external applications and sketching new business models supporting all of the above.

Earlier on Tuesday, GE unveiled its new Digital Power Plant hardware and software platform for tapping into individual machine data for analyzing, dispatching and overall management of a plant's power resources.

Beyond software, GE is looking to promote its Digital Power Plant and other innovations - such as the new Digital Wind Farm model for customizing turbine operation to unique farming locations and weather patterns - for tying in improvements for decarbonizing energy sources and integrating renewable energy sources.

"We're in the early phases. This is critical to drive industrial productivity in the future," Immelt concluded. "It's going to move quickly, and there is no reason why any industrial company in this room shouldn't be a participant."

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