GE Orients Predix Strategy Around Key Verticals

Oct. 26, 2017
There’s been plenty of news about GE’s direction under new CEO John Flannery. At the company’s Minds + Machines event, Flannery spotlighted the new strategy around Predix.

Earlier this year I covered several aspects of GE Digital’s plans for its Predix platform and Asset Performance Management software. The concentration on these technologies that I saw in my meetings with GE over the summer featured heavily into the company’s 2017 Minds + Machines event in San Francisco, October 25-26.

“Just a few years ago, the idea of a digitized, industrial company was just that—an idea. Now it’s a reality,” said John Flannery, GE CEO and chairman. As an industrial company, “we’re going through that process ourselves and the more we see [about digitization], the more we like it.”

Confirming that GE will continue its focus on digitizing industry—a hallmark of former GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s strategy—Flannery emphasized that GE is “all-in in terms of digital.” He added that when GE talks about digitization, “we’re not talking about marginal changes around the edges. These are quantum improvements to industry. We’re taking on the total transformation of industry at unprecedented scale and speed.”

Laying out GE’s plans moving forward, Flannery said GE will focus its digital strategy around two facets. The first of these will be GE’s direct focus on six verticals: energy, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, transportation and mining. The second facet will involve GE’s work with partners to address adjacent verticals.

Dave Yarnold, CEO of ServiceMax (GE’s field service technology acquisition last year) noted that this narrowing of GE’s Predix strategy on core verticals has been part of the company's learning experience in its transition to becoming more of a software company.

“Predix has got GE thinking more like a startup in terms of focusing on what matters most,” said Jeff Erhardt, GE’s vice president of intelligent systems. Erhardt came to GE via its acquisition of last year. “Having this kind of focus is important because companies can die from a lack of it,” he added.

Explaining GE’s decision to directly focus on six verticals, Joe Nichols, GE Digital’s COO of Asset Performance Management, noted that, through GE Automation and Control, the company will remain dedicated to developing Predix-powered solutions for other verticals, such as automotive, food and beverage, packaging, etc. Development work targeted at these other verticals will “leverage GE’s partner network. This is part of our extensibility strategy and there will be more news coming out about this soon.”

In his keynote address, Flannery pointed out that GE reached $1.1 billion in Predix-powered software orders in 2017, representing a more than 100 percent growth rate over last year. He also pointed to a few key end users who are digitizing their business with Predix, including:

  • Qantas — which took more than 10 billion data points from its planes and fed them into Predix to power FlightPulse, the first mobile app developed on Predix. The app helps pilots see how their actions affect various aspects of their plane’s operation. Rolling this app out to pilots helped Qantas reduce its fuel spend by 1 percent. “While 1 percent may not sound like much to those outside of the airline industry, for Qantas that translates to 30 million kilograms of fuel,” said Flannery. He added that, due to the app’s success, it has now been rolled out to Qantas’ 1,700 pilots. See the video about FlightPulse below.
  • Port of Los Angeles — Nine million containers go through this port every year. “By working with the port to take the shipping business from a paper-based operation to a digital one with Predix, we've been able to expand the port’s inbound visibility from two days to two weeks by integrating data from multiple sources, including ships, trucks and rail,” said Flannery. “This has resulted in an increase in the flow of goods at the port between 8 and 12 percent, bringing container volumes at the Port of L.A. to a record high. That's a massive increase for a mature industry like shipping.”

Predix FlightPulse App Video

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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