Dan Ostrower is the vice president of Product Development at Altitude, Inc.

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE (IW 500/6), recently wrote an article about making industrial equipment smart — or "connecting big iron and big data," in his parlance.

In it, he cited a study claiming that this Industrial Internet could add over €2 trillion to the European GDP alone.

For the makers of commercial and industrial equipment, that's exciting stuff.

But he left out one pretty important part: how to actually get a slice of that pie.

At Altitude, we've been working with the makers of industrial equipment — everything from portable analyzers to lab equipment — for over 20 years. And we've got some ideas to help make Mr. Immelt's wisdom just a bit more useful.

Let's assume, as a starting point, that manufacturers haven't taken the leap of making their products smart. Many industrial equipment companies haven't yet, and continue to hesitate as they embark on new design cycles. But the decreasing cost and increasing ease-to-integrate wireless connectivity, smart sensors, advanced processors and cloud-based services means that doing so is no longer a question of ability; it's a matter of will.

So in short: no more excuses.

But smarts alone is not of value. It's what manufacturers do with it.

In our work in commercial and industrial markets, we have identified three universal jobs that smart ecosystems built around industrial equipment are particularly well positioned to do.

These three jobs, each one more sophisticated and challenging than the next, form a roadmap to introducing smart ecosystems into industrial equipment and capturing the loyalty and new revenue streams that go with them.