GE Digital and Microsoft Announce Partnership

Amid reports about the potential sale of GE Digital, GE announces a technology and reselling partnership with Microsoft.

GE Digital image depicting Predix APM (asset performance management) use in a plant.
GE Digital image depicting Predix APM (asset performance management) use in a plant.

Last week, GE and Microsoft announced an expanded partnership that centered on the standardization of GE Digital’s Predix solutions on Microsoft Azure. The agreement includes the Predix Asset Performance Management and Predix ServiceMax technologies. GE said this partnership was developed to provide deeper integration of GE Digital technologies with Azure Internet of Things (IoT) and Azure Data and Analytics technologies.

As part of their announcement, GE and Microsoft announced they will “co-sell and go-to-market together…to offer Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions across verticals.” This includes a “deeper integration of Predix IIoT solutions with Microsoft’s Power BI, PowerApps and other third-party solutions, as well as integration with Microsoft Azure Stack to enable hybrid deployments across public and private clouds.”

Neither GE nor Microsoft would disclose the terms of their agreement but they noted that, in addition to customer-facing activities, GE will leverage Microsoft Azure across its business for additional information technology (IT) workloads and productivity tools, including internal Predix-based deployments.

Adding to the interest in this partnership was a subsequent report in The Wall Street Journal that GE plans to auction off its technology assets, including Predix, ServiceMax and Meridium. When asked how this news could affect the GE Digital/Microsoft partnership, neither party would comment further. GE responded saying, “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”

This news comes amid numerous changes taking place at GE following the departure of former CEO Jeff Immelt last year. It’s particularly interesting given comments made by GE’s current CEO, John Flannery, at the GE Minds + Machines event last fall. As noted in my report from that event, Flannery said GE is “all-in in terms of digital,” confirming that the company would continue to pursue its focus on digitizing industry.

As a reminder, GE also announced at the last Minds + Machines event that it would focus its future digital strategy on two facets. The first of these is an emphasis on six vertical markets: energy, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, transportation and mining. The second facet involves GE’s work with partners to address adjacent verticals.

Joe Nichols, GE Digital’s COO of Asset Performance Management, said at the Minds + Macines event that the company's Automation and Control division will remain dedicated to developing Predix-powered solutions for other verticals, such as automotive, food and beverage and packaging. Development work targeting these other verticals will leverage GE’s partner network as part of its extensibility strategy. The company added there will be more news coming out about this soon.

News of the Microsoft partnership could be assumed to be part of the extensibility strategy Nichols referenced at the event.

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