Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
11/29/2012
02:59 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

GE Isn't Running An Industrial Internet Charity, Folks

GE CEO Jeff Immelt expects strong revenue growth from new software products and services that tie machines to the Internet to allow better data analysis.

The "industrial Internet" involves collecting data from machines in order to run analytics to use those machines better. It's an easy enough concept to grasp, but let's talk about the metric you really want to know -- can it drive revenue?

GE CEO Jeff Immelt on Thursday predicted that GE can grow its "dollars per installed base" by 4% to 5% annually by selling products and services that support this effort to use online data for better operations. GE did $36.3 billion in revenue last quarter. Immelt says GE has a "services backlog" of $150 billion that it will "leverage" to develop these industrial Internet products. What does that mean? It means GE has contracts that are performance based -- it gets paid based in part on whether the jet engine, power plant turbine, etc., is operating as promised. If data-driven analytics keeps that equipment running, or cuts the costs of keeping it running, it means more profit for GE.

We're talking about these numbers in part because GE is doing a lot of promotion this week about its concept of the "industrial Internet," with a big report on its potential economic impact and a live event in San Francisco. I'm discussing it with you, though, because it's one of the most essential strategic issues a CIO can address. Do connected devices -- whether they're customer smartphones or an MRI machine linked via Wi-Fi -- provide a new, critical connection to my customer or my operations, and a way to bring technology into the product my customer uses? If I don't create this connection, will someone else use it to take my customer?

GE thinks so. It just announced new product and services business to sell software and data management and analysis services into the key industries where it sells equipment -- starting with aviation, healthcare, energy and transportation. In aviation, it just started a joint venture with Accenture called Taleris to improve airplane operating efficiency by analyzing data to minimize downtime and waste. GE estimates a 1% cut in fuel use would save the airline industry more than $30 billion the next 15 years.

For more on what the industrial Internet needs to take off, check this article from earlier in the week.

Two additional things to consider about the business opportunity from this industrial Internet -- or more broadly, the Internet of things that goes well beyond industrial uses.

One is that GE's steps to spur an ecosystem of development around this industrial Internet take a GE-centric view, focusing on the industries where it sells products. That means it's way too narrow. Think about agriculture, using moisture sensors to direct irrigation and thus use dramatically less water. It's happening on a small scale but could become essential and even required by law as water shortages grow. How about cars that talk with traffic lights, roads and other vehicles, so that traffic can move more efficiently and relieve the gridlock that plagues megacities from Mumbai to Sao Paulo. Whatever your industry, you're likely to see ways the competitive and regulatory landscape will change.

Global CIO
Global CIOs: A Site Just For You
Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.

Lastly, GE is playing defense as well as offense. Some $15 trillion of economic growth and 4% more dollars per installed base sound lovely, but the Internet of things will destroy businesses, companies and jobs as surely as it creates them. Would better usage data reveal that your customers under-utilize their machines, so they actually could buy 25% less if they used them efficiently? Do you rely on break-fix services revenue that could be wiped out by data-driven preventative maintenance? Do you sell extended warranties that could be made obsolete? And I'm certain your doomsday scenarios would be much scarier than mine.

These problems and opportunities point to the need for CIO leadership in helping companies take part in this emerging innovation ecosystem around the Internet of things.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
TheDougStone
50%
50%
TheDougStone,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/11/2013 | 12:49:36 PM
re: GE Isn't Running An Industrial Internet Charity, Folks
Those productivity gains come at the expense of changing long running procedures that people are resistant to change. In the case of jet engine repair and maintenance the technology is less of a challenge than getting the workforce to change inventory and work scheduling procedures. The big money is in the major airlines sector, and the ability to quickly influence procedure is in the private plane sector. I'll bet on the startup that offers a watered down version of what GE is developing to a sector they feel is too small to move the needle in the GE play book. Classic Innovators Dilemma case study. How can the CIO and HR team up to minimize the dampening effect of embedded procedure? Innovation requires acceptance or else it is just invention.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/3/2012 | 10:10:21 PM
re: GE Isn't Running An Industrial Internet Charity, Folks
If you're a manufacturer that doesn't compete with GE, you might consider getting its help in service-enabling and analyzing your big data. GE Intelligent Platforms develops and sells industrial analytics software to customers both inside and outside of the company, and its area of deepest expertise is industrial production and product performance. -- Doug Henschen
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps – and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join InformationWeek’s Lorna Garey and Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focused on maximizing technology investments, to discuss the right way to go digital.
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.