GE research shows disconnect between digital outlook and company readiness

GE unveiled new research highlighting an emerging gap between executive outlook for digital transformation and initiatives that companies have put in place. The survey of information technology (IT) and operations decision makers found that while companies see the industrial internet of things (IIoT) as presenting significant opportunities for future growth and competitiveness, the vast majority are not taking the actions required to benefit from those opportunities.

“The industrial internet is already having a profound impact on industrial companies of all sizes. We know this because we are seeing real benefits with our customers and across GE,” said Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital. “At the same time, a gap is emerging between outlook for the IIoT and actions. We are working to close that gap by partnering with customers to accelerate change and guide companies of all sizes along their digital journeys.”

According to the study, presented at GE’s Minds + Machines conference on 25 October, optimism among industry executives for the potential of the industrial internet is striking. A total 80% believe the IIoT will or could be transformational to their companies and industries. Even more consider digital industrial transformation to be important to their competitiveness. At the same time, only 8% of those executives say digital transformation is ingrained in their businesses, and 10% do not have a digital transformation plan in place.

GE Digital Industrial Evolution Index

Based on the research study, GE created the GE Digital Industrial Evolution Index to track the real progress of digital transformation – from outlook on the IIoT to readiness to transform. The inaugural index reflects a total score of 63 on a scale of 100 and indicates that while outlook for the industrial internet is very strong, scoring 78.3 out of 100, company readiness significantly lags, scoring 55.2 out of 100. This disconnect between outlook and company readiness presents both a challenge and opportunity for companies seeking to benefit from the IIoT. Additional survey findings included:

  • Digital transformation critical to growth and competitiveness: 86% believe digital industrial transformation is important to the competitiveness of their companies, with the majority (76%) rating the ability to provide higher quality services as the foremost outcome of digital industrial transformation.
  • Connectivity and industrial apps most critical for IIoT: IT and operations decision makers (IT/OTDMs) overwhelmingly cited connectivity (63%) and industrial applications (58%) as the primary technologies required for digital transformation.
  • IIoT platform, apps and analytics priority investments: Respondents view an IIoT-ready platform (22%), industrial applications (14%) and big data analytics (14%) as the most important technologies to invest in.
  • Cost matters: Most respondents cited investment costs (42%) as the leading barrier to digital transformation, followed by system security (32%) and data privacy (32%) concerns.
  • Digital transformation will require organizational change: 54% of IT/OTDMs believe their organizations need to transform to enable digital transformation. Further, 66% believe data analysts will need to be integrated into all departments/units; 61% believe IT functions will need to become part of the central operating function of their company; and 55% believe their companies are responsible for ensuring the workforce is ready for the IIoT.

Advancing digital industrial transformation

GE Digital is working to close the gap between opportunity and reality by making the industrial internet accessible for companies at every stage of the transformation journey. The company is helping customers realize real and immediate benefits from the IIoT by providing new partnerships, industry-leading tools and applications designed to drive efficiencies and growth. Examples of customers already harnessing the power of the IIoT include:

  • Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy company, is working with GE to develop and deploy Predix-based software solutions across Exelon’s electricity transmission and distribution network of six utilities. The implementation of machine learning-based analytics will increase reliability, availability and efficiency of the electrical grid for more than 10 million customers.
  • Qantas, Australia’s largest domestic and international airline, and GE Aviation developed a new flight data application, FlightPulse, which provides pilots with data to help them fly more efficiently and help reduce carbon emissions. FlightPulse, the first fully commercialized product to be developed with mobile services from GE’s Predix platform, uses recorded aircraft data and smart analytics to enable pilots to securely access their individual operational efficiency metrics and trends. In its last financial year, Qantas saved more than 30 million kg of fuel, supported by the work done with GE. In this financial year, since launching FlightPulse, Qantas is now close to doubling its fuel savings compared to this time last year.
  • The Australian Rail Track Corp (ARTC) is applying GE Transportation’s Movement Planner solution as the key technology enabler for the ARTC Network Control Optimization (ANCO) program. Movement Planner provides real-time rail traffic planning and optimization to enable freight to move more efficiently, and will serve as the foundation for the digital transformation of the train control function – a key feature of the ANCO project.
  • Invenergy, North America’s largest privately held renewable energy company, and GE recently announced a 2,000-megawatt windfarm, called Windcatcher, that will be the largest in the US and second-largest in the world, once operational. Invenergy plans to implement GE’s Digital Wind Farm – including Asset Performance Management and Operations Optimization software as part of the project. The company has also partnered with GE for cyber security across the entire fleet.
  • Rumo, one of the largest rail-based logistics operators in Latin America, will deploy GE Transportation’s Trip Optimizer solution to improve efficiency across more than 2,000 km of rail in Brazil in 2018. Trip Optimizer, which runs on GE Transportation’s GoLINC on-board computing platform, is a software-based energy management system that analyzes data to optimize train fuel efficiency.
  • KBC, an independent oil and gas consulting and process simulation software company, and Baker Hughes, a GE company, have entered into a preferred partnership that will provide a combination of process simulation, asset performance management and operational software solutions to the oil and gas industry. Leveraging GE’s Predix, the platform for the industrial internet, to deliver one unified view, this partnership extends KBC’s Petro-SIM process simulation modeling further into the full-stream oil and gas value chain, and provides connectivity between operations, assets, people and business processes for end-to-end optimization.
  • JPMorgan Chase is in its second phase of an ongoing collaboration with GE’s Current, a company that sells energy management systems, to install new energy management and digital technologies that will increase the energy efficiency of roughly 4,500 Chase branches across the US. To date, approximately 3,000 branches have been retrofitted with LED lighting, helping cut lighting energy consumption by 50% – the equivalent of taking nearly 27,000 cars off the road.

The industrial world is complex and creates a unique set of technology challenges. IIoT requires multiple technologies – connectivity, control systems, cloud computing, data ingestion and management, analytics and machine learning, security, data governance – across a variety of different users and scenarios. GE Digital is applying its expertise and experience to make the IIoT more accessible, actionable and impactful for companies of all sizes – providing a blueprint they can adapt to get more out of their industrial assets, measure ROI and improve business returns.


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