This blog summarizes an upcoming IDC Manufacturing Insights Perspective covering the recently completed GE Intelligent Platforms User Summit, which took place last month in Orlando, Florida.
The resounding theme of the recent GE Intelligent Platforms User Summit was GE's ambition to be a leader in the Industrial Internet by providing connectivity, analytics, and tools in industrial settings to transform how companies operate. GE's Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt shared his popular adage with the audience during his keynote address: "Every industrial company will have to become a software and analytics company."
The message is dramatic, and it underlies what GE sees as the core capability that will determine who the winners are across industries in the age of digital transformation. With more than $150 billion in revenues, GE positions itself as the world's biggest infrastructure company, and one that is practicing what it preaches, combining its machines with sensors, connectivity, software and analytics to drive better customer outcomes. Today, the GE engines that power 70% of the global aircraft fleet are surrounded by a multitude of sensors that capture terabytes of data about the wear of the blades, the heat of the engine, and the rate of fuel consumption. GE has shifted its position from an equipment manufacturer to a service provider that delivers "outcomes" to its customers.
IDC Manufacturing Insights sees GE's journey as a prime example of how industrial manufacturers must transform from product-focused companies to service-centered companies that deliver value-added services through products to their customers. The continued ascent of Third Platform technologies, specifically cloud, big data analytics, mobile, and social, and Internet of Things (IoT) are powering this transformation in manufacturing to create connected products that become the conduits for business value.
IDC Manufacturing Insights felt a palpable buzz at the GE Intelligent Platforms User Summit, around the opportunities that IoT and the Industrial Internet provide for manufacturers. GE showcased customers that are seeing impressive results from applying sensors and predictive analytics to their assets. It also highlighted several customers that are transforming what their actual business is through cloud, analytics, and IoT. The mood was optimistic and hopeful, but the tangible examples of customer success also spawned a number of conversations around how to make it real for the attendees' own companies. Herein lies the ongoing challenge of IoT and Industrial Internet: the Hows.
We spoke with several manufacturers who were absorbing all of the customer examples on the main stage, and asking themselves how to apply that success to their business environment. More than once, we heard a GE customer say they don't understand exactly how GE is going to make the Industrial Internet real for their business. IDC Manufacturing Insights believes this challenge is not unique to GE, but rather for all of the current IT providers that are positioning themselves within the IoT ecosystem.
As we turn the calendar to a new year in little more than a month, this theme of identifying the best opportunities for IoT in manufacturing segments - and more importantly determining how manufacturers can make this transformation happen - will continue to resonate throughout the industry as a whole. It feels as if the Industrial Internet "League" has been formed, and manufacturers must make some critical decisions around which IT product and service providers they want on their "team" to help realize the potential and win. Experience and the promise of tangible results are two metrics by which IT providers will be measured. Watch for additional guidance from IDC Manufacturing Insights in the coming months.