‘Who will be first in the race’
By Karamjit Singh October 17, 2016
- GE believes large companies, with efficiency and cost pressures will turn to IoT
- Predicts growing awareness in Asean over next 12-months, with adoption to follow
“WHAT do I do next?” As the commercial lead for GE Digital in ASEAN, Alvin Ng (pic) spends a lot of his time speaking to customers in the region and listening to them. And that’s the question he gets asked the most.
Because, increasingly he finds that companies are buying into the value that can be extracted from the volumes of data generated from the Internet of Things (IoT) with machines connected to machines and machines connected to people.
They understand that harvesting their data and culling insights from it will help them make smarter decisions and move from making decisions that are reactive to predictive. But they are also drowning in data with most using only a fraction of what they collect. And their data is becoming more complex, and coming from various sources.
“This presents them with their biggest challenge,” says Ng. And their question to GE is around how they come to grips with their data, make sense of it and take advantage of the insights their data throws up.
For GE Digital, the solution lies in helping companies to execute on their desire to tap the potential of IoT. “We are trying to help companies execute their IoT vision by offering them our Predix platform and offering to co-create their IoT vision with them.”
Predix is GE’s cloud-based for Industrial Internet platform that combines applications, people, machines, big data and analytics. GE has coined the term Industrial Internet in 2012 to describe IoT for industry. Some have preferred to call it Manufacturing2.0 or even 3.0.
Aside from coining the term, GE has also been an early adopter. For instance it built a US$170 million battery plant in 2012 in New York, which had more than 10,000 sensors to constantly feed data to its engineers.
GE feels that its Predix platform approach is the best way to help companies achieve their IoT potential and with Predix on its way to becoming the defacto standard for the Industrial Internet, says Ng, companies will have an easier path to achieving their IoT potential.
Ng also pinpoints the key factor driving interest in the Industrial Internet – productivity. “Ten years ago, getting 4% annual productivity growth was not a problem but today, companies are struggling to even get 1% productivity.
But GE is working with its customers and encouraging them to go for bite sized improvements by focusing on specific parts of the business, “to ring fence that portion” in Ng’s words and apply the Industrial Internet to improve things there. “Then we move on to the next part of the business and that’s why we call this a journey they have to make and why we talk about us co-creating solutions with them.”
GE may even not have all the answers, Ng admits but that’s why the ecosystem is important he says, drawing examples from the consumer and mobile world where Apply and Google no longer dictate terms but provide a set of rules and create an environment to be the enabler, co-creating with app-developers. “We want to be the enabler and create the environment for the industrial world and work with customers to solve problems together.”
And because GE itself has been transforming over the past three to four years, its customers want GE to teach them what’s new and different about adapting to and leveraging on the advantages of the Industrial Internet.
Ng mentions Fast Works which is GE’s Lean Methodology version of developing products fast and on lower budgets that it has been used to. The Fast Works method it has been applying since 2013 can be synthesized into the phrase “fail fast, fail small”. And now its customers want to learn to apply this in their companies.
The eagerness of large companies to learn about how they can leverage the Industrial Internet is representative of a leapfrog trend that Ng sees. “It used to be that the industrial world was 10 to 15 years behind the consumer tech world but it is fast catching up today.”
And while at the consumer tech level we already have smart homes, fitness bands, smart running shoes, watches etc, think about the possibilities when healthcare systems and education institutions are connected. “Imagine how powerful they can be through harnessing their data with analytics to drive better business outcomes,” says Ng
Looking specifically at Asean, Ng sees awareness growing and predicts it will accelerate over the next 12 months, with the natural consequence being that adoption will follow as well.
That adoption of the Industrial Internet by customers will also be followed by a change in business model from a capex approach to opex by GE thanks to its cloud based Predix platform. “Referring to my earlier comment about customers starting with bite sized implementations in their Industrial Internet journeys, they will apply IoT in a small part of the business and when they see it working, will expand it to another part of the business and pay for what they are using. And this will change their mindset about how IoT will work.”
And with the cost and efficiency pressures big companies constantly face, Ng believes big companies no longer have a choice whether to adopt IoT. “The question is, who will now be first in the race.”