According to GE CEO Jeff Immelt, if you “woke up as an industrial company today, you will wake up as a software and analytics company tomorrow.” As the Internet of Things (IoT) develops, software will be an important part of whatever you’re making.
GE has spent five years and a billion dollars learning how to become a software and analytics company. They have learned a few things along the way:
- It’s not enough to connect machines. You have to make your machines smarter. You need to figure out the best ways for embedding intelligence into machines and devices. Then you need to develop the best techniques for collecting the data generated by those machines and devices, analyzing that data and generating usable insights that will enable you to run equipment more efficiently and optimize operations and supply chains.
- You cannot use yesterday’s technology to achieve your goals in the era of the Industrial Internet. In fact, you cannot use today’s technology. You will need new technology and new ways of thinking about that technology. Throughout the history of humankind, every significant leap forward was driven by new technology. This time around will be the same—we’ll need to invent, develop and deploy new technology to move forward.
- Don’t think of the Industrial Internet as an IT project. Think of it as a business project. Its goal is generating positive outcomes for your business. Industrial Internet initiatives should be led by business people, not just technologists. If your leaders don’t embrace the ideas and concepts of the Industrial Internet, it’s unlikely that your efforts will succeed.
For example, if there is intelligence built into the jet engines of airplanes, maintenance will know when those engines are likely to develop problems and schedule service before those problems occur. Such information can reduce flight rescheduling, saving millions of dollars every year, and giving the airline an advantage over competitors.
Another example: On a wind farm, intelligence information can help operators know exactly how and when to adjust the individual blades on each wind turbine to improve the overall efficiency of the wind farm. With a number of wind farms, this knowledge can increase power output without building a single new turbine.
GE management and design engineers are taking the idea of becoming a software and analytics company seriously because they believe that every product can be improved and optimized by making it smarter and more connected.
This article was adapted from the GE blog post “Waking Up as a Software and Analytics Company: Building Intelligence into Machines and Systems.”
Filed Under: TECHNOLOGIES + PRODUCTS, ALL INDUSTRIES, Software