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Wind farms that talk, self-aware loco-motives, connected factories, digital oil fields—once the stuff of dreams, the con-nected machine has arrived. Just how far will the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) transcend business as usual? According to industry leaders at GE’s Minds and Machines 2015 conference, the IIoT is poised to be a game-changing market dis-ruption.

“This is the future—the Industrial Internet, what it means for productivity for industrial companies,” said Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, “we really are on the cusp of the next productivity revolu-tion for our companies, and we’re proud to be a part of it.” While the customer internet has had decades to innovate and mature, industry and utilities have been more con-servative, incorporating connectivity in fits and starts. With Predix, GE’s industrial dig-ital platform, GE seeks to catapult industry into the digital age, and soon, into the cloud. “This power of science, this merger of the digital and industrial world, is really the genesis,” Immelt continued. “If you went to bed tonight as an industrial compa-ny, you’re going to wake up tomorrow morning as a software analytics company.”

The IDC forecasts the Internet of Things market to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020. Immelt predicted the Industrial Internet will be worth double the value of the consumer internet, “mainly because people can see the productivity benefits.” Further, GE’s presentation included impres-sive predictions for the company and value added to the economy:


Connectivity is changing how we do business from the plant level to utility scale, from the self-aware locomotive to a trans-portation network of connected cities. The Industrial Internet has the capacity to not only disrupt individual industries, but entire sectors, such as the energy sector. “Going forward, the world needs more power,” said Steve Bolze, President and CEO of GE Power & Water. “50% more power is required in the world in the next two decades. We will spend as a combined industry $10 trillion to put in that new power and modernize the infrastructure that exists today.”

There’s enormous opportunity—and challenge—in connecting over 1 billion peo-ple currently living without electricity in the developing world, as Bolze noted. In com-munities that lack utility infrastructure, there’s opportunity to bypass the financial and logistical headache of modernizing infrastructure and “leapfrog” ahead to new tech, such as connected microgrids and advances in renewable energy. “The single biggest opportunity for transformation is digitization of the entire energy value chain,” Bolze pointed out, which will reduce cost and time to market, decarbonize the industry, and help integrate renewables into the grid.

Immelt offered three magic words to convince industry to embrace the Industrial Internet: “no unplanned downtime.” Increased productivity and efficiency sav-ings—this is the fuel that will fire up the Industrial Internet. Machines connected in real time to each other and the cloud can generate predictive analytics to pre-vent equipment failures. For the oil off-shore customer, this could mean $5.2 mil-lion in savings by preventing just one oil platform failure; for a power generation company, $1 million can be saved in just one month by increasing efficiency, according to GE’s presentation. Through internal case studies, GE has spent years proving its platform, Predix, can deliver efficiency savings and greater productivity for business.


“Five years ago when we started, we didn’t know what the hell this was,” Immelt added, but now “our customers can eat it, they can feel it…this is the Industrial Internet.” Over the next 12 months, GE plans to establish Predix as an industrial cloud with a focus on asset per-formance management. GE announced the launch of a customer-ready version of Predix at Minds and Machines with Exelon Generation and PSEG as early cus-tomers. Exelon is rolling out Predix across its three fuel classes, launching initially with five projects with a focus on asset optimization.

Companies can take advantage of GE’s Digital Twin feature, which creates a digi-tal version of an asset using physics mod-els in the cloud. “This model gets richer with every second of operational data,” said Ganesh Bell, CDO of GE Power & Water. Over time, the Digital Twin gets better at predicting failure and improving performance of the asset. Bell announced the launch of the Digital Power Plant, a combination of GE’s software defined gas turbine, Predix, and a suite of applications, enabling real time adjustments to market conditions and predictive analytics on a plant scale. In a recent press release, GE estimated its Digital Power Plant technolo-gy could save $230 million per new plant, $50 million for an existing combined-cycle gas powered plant, with an aggregate of $75 billion in savings across the power industry.


“To solve the biggest problems in the world, you have to solve the whole prob-lem—across generation, grid, and con-sumption, bring together hardware servic-es and software for a complete solution,” Bell said. “So I want to invite all of our cus-tomers, partners, independent software vendors, developers, solution providers across the entire energy landscape, and startups to partner with us, innovate on top of Predix, and solve the whole problem.” Predix is more than a platform—it’s GE’s digital manifesto, urging companies to join in the productivity revolution. GE execu-tives urged business leaders in the audi-ence to test out its beta version and build apps onto its platform, and to take advan-tage of Predix Cloud once it’s launched.