The Industrial Internet of Partnerships

Nov. 5, 2016

The Industrial Internet of Things has generated plenty of technology-related discussions. Now it’s generating real world and, sometimes unusual, business partnerships and collaborations.

It’s much easier to look back over the long history of political, societal, economic or technological developments and connect the dots to analyze how a particular trend developed. It’s more difficult to do that in real time as the trend is developing. But that’s where we find ourselves today trying to decipher the progress of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). One aspect of the trend, however, is becoming very clear—to lead you have to partner.

This reality seems to be growing out of the speed at which the IIoT is being accepted and implemented.

During his presentation at the Industrial Internet Consortium’s (IIC) second annual IoT Solutions World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, Mark Hutchinson, president and CEO of GE Europe, explained that the recent transformation of GE from an industrial company to a digital industrial company stemmed from a great deal of executive concern about “who would eat our lunch.” Noting that companies need to be concerned about who will own the digital space between them and their customers, Hutchinson said, “If it’s not you, you become a commodity and can be disintermediated. But your knowledge of your business puts you in the best space to understand this and take advantage of it.”

The catch is that companies don't have a lot of time to get up to speed on this. “When Jack Welch brought Six Sigma to GE, he had people in training for five years,” said Hutchinson. “With the IIoT, you don’t have that much time. So we started hiring more people from outside technology companies, like Google,” and are encouraging everyone inside GE to catch up.

Outlining his four keys to getting an effective start with IIoT, Hutchinson said:
  • Baseline what you have in current digital industrial capabilities;
  • Build a vision and roadmap—prioritize opportunities and include a change management plan;
  • Generate quick wins—create value in weeks; and
  • Don't be afraid to partner. “We now have more than 260 partners to help build our industrial app economy,” he said. “You can’t do it all yourself.”

Echoing Hutchinson’s comments about the need for partnerships in the IIoT era, James Kirkland, chief architect, Internet of Things at Red Hat, said during a panel session at the IOT Solutions World Congress: “If you try to eat the entire elephant yourself, you're going to fail.”

GE’s IIoT partners include Cisco, Cognizant, Dell, AT&T, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Oracle and PTC. Some of these companies could be considered competitive to GE around certain products, services and markets. See all of GE's partners here.

This non-traditional partnership theme was also evident in a presentation at the IoT Solutions World Congress by John Roese, executive vice president and CTO of the newly created Dell EMC.

Roese explained how Dell EMC is partnering with Toshiba Corporation—which has historically been a major competitor to Dell in the PC marketplace—on an IIC testbed to jointly develop a deep learning platform. Toshiba and Dell will use the testbed to verify the effectiveness of applying deep learning to IoT platforms and establish best practices to improve the availability of machines, optimize monitoring equipment—including sensors—and reduce maintenance costs. For the testbed, Toshiba will provide deep learning technology for analyzing and evaluating big data, and Dell EMC will provide high-speed storage technologies.

See more information about IIC’s testbeds here.

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