GE picks Silicon Valley as the best place to innovate a new generation of software aimed at connecting industrial machines.
Ruh sees a number of factors coming together to spur growth of the industrial Internet now:
• Lower-cost sensors that can collect data from more machines.
• Lower-cost GPU processors that let a device sift through data and send back only the bits that are out of the norm and in need of further analysis. "You don't want every piece of data going back to the cloud," Ruh says.
• Analytics and management capabilities advancing to the point that they can make sense of the data coming back from devices.
• Computing infrastructure that's cheap and flexible enough to make it practical to process this stream of data.
For CIOs, the takeaway is that machine-to-machine data connections, backed by analytics and automated response, are getting more practical.
3. The industrial Internet needs a lot of work
It's a lot different from today's consumer Internet. For example, industrial endpoints (machines) will create massive amounts of data, while the consumer Internet is more about human endpoints consuming data. Analytics to predict outcomes like a machine breakdown is essential, as is automation to deal with the data volume.
The Silicon Valley center--under construction in San Ramon and due to open around June--will develop what Ruh calls a "unifying architecture" for all of GE's industry software. GE and others are in the early days of understanding what's needed to drive an industrial Internet. "That's why it'll take 10 years," Ruh says, for the ecosystem to develop.
This is emerging tech, so the gains will come in pockets, with early adopters reaping the pain and the gain. Customers will want to see measurable returns on this investment--remote monitoring systems that show they can reduce maintenance staff headcount, reduce machine downtime and thus increase utilization.