GE set the newswires and webzines aflame when they released the report Industrial Internet: Pushing the boundaries of Minds and Machines. It is a comprehensive (at least at the industries GE supports) report and it would be easy to spend hours just looking at the beautiful graphics. CEO Jeff Immelt himself wrote an article for GigaOM that encapsulates the report’s ideas.
As someone fascinated by the Internet of Things, the way the rest of us talk about GE’s Industrial Internet, I found this to be a very interesting writeup of an idea that is going to affect us all. It gets a new category on Successful Workplace as of today.
Sitting in the Gartner AADI Summit in Las Vegas yesterday, it was a surprise to see that presentations from the Keynote to various breakouts talked about this report, meaning whatever people planned to present a month ago, they made changes aplenty to get this into their talks. “50 billion connected devices within five years” was a term I heard several times during the day in sessions and the hallway. Who knows if that’s accurate, but it obviously gets people’s attention. Even the thought leaders.
3 key elements – 1 theme
Looking past the marketing benefit for GE (which there’s plenty), I found the the very first graphic to appropriately be the one that summarized the idea best. The Internet of Things has three elements that have one enormous need in common: Connectivity.
There needs to be a significant uptick in how systems talk to each other for anything to happen on the scale that GE predicts. When you consider the Web connects 2 billion people today, getting to 52 billion will require a level of integration and movement of data that most companies are woefully unable to support.
And it takes time to get there even when the enormity of it eventually dawns on most business and technology folks. The idea of many systems and sensors talking to each other isn’t that complicated. Making it all work together, on the other hand, will require enormous integration, very powerful analytics to understand and predict, and hyper-fast systems to anticipate and respond.
There are players for whom this is just an expansion of where they are now, like FedEx, but for the majority of mid to large companies, this is a new approach to business. It will impact the front end processes, what GE calls “people at work” as much as the technology nuts and bolts. Fascinating times.