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June 15, 2016

GE bets on digital future in Europe, invests in industrial internet expansion

Analysis: Company eyes $1.7tr industrial internet market by expanding its digital focus on European soil.

By Joao Lima

GE chose Paris to set out its industrial IOT vision as it targets $15bn in digital industrial revenue within five years.

The firm’s CEO Jeff Immelt laid out the company’s vision with Bill Ruh, CDO at GE and CEO at GE Digital, providing the detail for GE’s Digital’s industrial blueprint.

Immelt is looking at a 25% growth in terms of digital revenue this year alone. GE expects digital revenues to reach over $6bn by the end of 2016, and $15bn by 2020.

GE Digital’s CEO Ruh has been set the target to reach $500m in profitable value this year alone.

For Ruh, the winning formula in the digital industrial space is about "leveraging the advances in data science, getting them related to physical things (like machines) and then add in applied engineering".

"We look at data (continuous and accessible), then we look at stats (identify trends and anomalies), and then bring in ‘physics’. We apply asset and domains expertise to deliver industrial outcomes, essentially delivering one platform for OT and IT teams," he said.

Industrial Europe

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Immelt said the company looked towards Europe because the continent, in terms of industrial internet, is positioned to be a world leader.

"Europe has everything we need to succeed in the industrial revolution," he told an audience of over 800 people.

"Europe has the talent and infrastructure to lead a productivity revolution and the digitisation of industry must be at the core of this mission."

This comes as the company predicts Industrial Internet solutions will potentially contribute $1.7tr in value in additional European GDP annually by 2025.

The fact that Europe is also showing signs of economic recovery, with the recession easing and the economic landscape going back to what it was back in 2007, were also factors in GE’s decision to focus on this region.

Immelt continued to say that, while the rules of consumer internet were done somewhere else, like the US, the rules for "industrial internet can be done here, in Europe," cementing how important Europe has become to GE’s digital industrial vision.

Immelt said: "This is the biggest transformation in the history of the company.

"We are taking the IT side of the company and linking it with the OT side and we think that is how we are going to success in the future going forward."

The CEO challenged those in the audience to think about this transformation and then looked into the core principles of digital transformation.

Topping the principals is the idea that "talent follow ideas". It is important to have ideas and not being afraid of talking about them, trialling them out and sharing their experiences with others. This will attract the right talent, such as qualified personnel, partners, etc, to do the job.

Content is also important, with Immelt saying: "In the industrial space, you should be all about content. Not just media content. This is about having the right information that lets you know about your company."

In addition to these two principles, companies in the industrial space should also be looking at delivering outcomes, the difference between consumer and industrial internet, the upgrade of their IT systems, a simplified company culture, and again, industrials need to trust each other.

The blueprint is based on three core business pillars. GE for GE, GE for Customers, and GE for World.

In the GE for GE segment, the company targets productivity through digital assets, its industrial OS Predix (which also takes on the available data in the industrial space), service transformation, and the Digital Twin idea. Digital Twin is about physical objects, like machines, and analytics (using the data produced by the machines and other sources).

In the GE for Customers segment, the company focuses on applications that help improve outcomes for customers, optimise GE machines, and augment the industrial apps portfolio.

Lastly, GE for World is all about platforms. It is about enabling industrial companies to do their work, use GE’s Predix industrial OS and have a special focus on industrial security.


Paris sets scene for European presence

To demonstrate the company’s commitment to investing more in Europe, Immelt opened in Paris a Digital Foundry, calling it "a very important mark for our company".

The foundry will serve as the hub for GE’s digital industrial ecosystem and has been built to incubate startups, improve collaboration and drive ecosystem growth between GE’s customers and partners.

The Paris hub is the first of four foundries planned for 2016. It brings with it the creation of 250 jobs focused on engineering, data science, user experience and design thinking.

The CEO also unveiled the five core digital values of the company, on which GE is going to be based.

Firstly, the company is going to look at its history and build on its ‘industrial portfolio’. Secondly, it will also build on the ‘GE Store’. Thirdly, ‘digital industrial’ is going to assume a more important role, and this is exactly what the company wants to do: digitalise the industrial space across all verticals.

As the industry becomes more complex, Immelt believes a ‘culture of simplification’ (the fourth digital value) is key for speed and help achieve better customer outcomes.

Lastly, GE is looking into ‘value’. The company wants to win in the market and build with investors.


Bill Ruh, CDO at GE and CEO at GE Digital

GE for all

Aiming for the 2020 multi-billion dollar figure, GE has also expanded access to digital industrial tools and partners available through Predix, the company’s OS for Industrial Internet.

The main addition to the OS is GE Digital’s Brilliant Manufacturing suite. Brilliant Manufacturing is able to gather, connect and analyse data from every aspect of production and leverage those insights to help manufacturers meet production targets, while controlling costs and risk.

GE Power also released the Digital Power Plant software, part of the Predix OS, designed to help nations meet COP21 greenhouse gas emissions goals.

Furthermore, GE announced a new collaboration with Technip, HPE, NUMA and others, who are using its software solutions.

For example, GE Oil & Gas and Technip today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore new digital solutions, focused on the design and build of new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects.

With HPE, GE Digital signed a strategic agreement to use HPE’s IIoT technology and GE’s industrial portfolio. The alliance is focused mostly on industrial analytics, and will help companies carry out their data mining at the edge and into the cloud.

As part of the Paris Digital Foundry opening, GE also partnered with NUMA, the first startup accelerator in France, and government agencies including Banque Publique d’Investissement (BPI) to identify and grow high-potential ideas and startups in the region.

Ruh said: "This industrial world will be bigger than the consumer internet. Could be as much as 50% bigger. Working together is key.

"We are using information in a new way we have never done before."

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