industrial internet GE

Maximizing the Value of the Industrial Internet

“This Industrial Internet is not about a world run by robots, it is about combining the world’s best technologies to solve our biggest challenges. It’s about economically and environmentally sustainable energy, curing the incurable diseases, and preparing our infrastructure and cities for the next 100 years.” – Jeff Immelt, Nov. 28, 2012, GigaOm

A new revolution is under way that’s much bigger than Big Data: the Industrial Internet – a means for creating new business value by unifying the power of people, data and the industrial systems the world depends on.

GigaOm’s Jon Brunerhas written extensively about the Industrial Internet, describing it as installing intelligence above the level of individual machines— enabling remote control, optimization at the level of the entire system and sophisticated machine-learning algorithms that can work extremely accurately because they take into account vast quantities of data generated by large systems of machines as well as the external context of every individual machine.

GE is at the forefront of the discussion about the potential of the Industrial Internet revolution, which, according to GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, will add about $15 trillion to global GDP by 2030, the equivalent of adding another U.S. economy to the world.

Jeff Immelt GE Industrial Internet
“This Industrial Internet is not about a world run by robots, it is about combining the world’s best technologies to solve our biggest challenges. It’s about economically and environmentally sustainable energy, curing the incurable diseases, and preparing our infrastructure and cities for the next 100 years.” – Jeff Immelt, Nov. 28, 2012, GigaOm

As the head of a growing company that is very fortunate to work with GE (having them as both an investor and a customer on multiple engagements), I am thrilled to see them take such a visionary role in this important topic. 

Early in my career working in the life sciences market, there was a lot of talk about shifting the focus of patient care from reactively prescribing medications to advancing the field of proactive advanced diagnostics. While the benefits of doing this are obvious, the challenges were significant, not the least of which was the need for a cultural shift to get people to be more proactive about their health. I view the Industrial Internet as a huge enabler in driving this change forward, as it shifts the point of access to information to the moment of action versus a later time of reflection.

We are just now entering the era when the right technologies are available that allow us to align analytics with those critical moments of action. Business intelligence (BI), for example, has undergone an exciting transition to more agile and real-time BI, providing easy access to analytics and data visualization as things are actually taking place.

Merging Machine and Human Insight

While an actionable flow of data from sensor-laden machines and instruments holds great potential for revealing new insights and supporting better decisions across many industries, integrating and correlating that data with the context of human-generated content and intelligence completes the vision and potential for the Industrial Internet. Just imagine the power of combining diagnostic data with the observations found in patient examination notes generated by medical practitioners and specialists.

Or let’s take a look at one of our customers, a global manufacturer in the Fortune 10. The company knows everything there is to know about the equipment they sell, such as its age, where it was manufactured, utilization rates, and what component parts are included. A wide spectrum of climates, performance and environmental factors are also closely monitored and combined, as well as mountains of sensor data. And finally, there is a wealth of human-generated content captured in notes from their CRM systems, customer service logs, field technician notes and much more.

Working with Spotfire, a partner, they’ve helped bring all of this information together so they can proactively monitor performance, identify trends, understand why those trends are taking place, improve responsiveness and increase customer satisfaction at levels well beyond what is possible working with sensor data alone.

The ability to gain a single unified view into the performance of millions of pieces of equipment and leverage the context and intelligence of a global network of expert commentary enables a new level of business success, from the level of an individual piece of equipment to an entire product line.


Ali I. Riaz is CEO of unified information access software provider, Attivio, where he is responsible for corporate strategy, direction, and operations.

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