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How GE Digital is using data science to drive Industrial IoT

Tom Macaulay | Aug. 8, 2017
The General Electric subsidiary predicts that the Industrial Internet will be worth $225 billion by 2020.

general electric creisinger
Credit: iStock/creisinger

GE Digital is betting big on the power of data science and the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform industries of every sector.

In July the General Electric subsidiary hosted a data science event at its digital foundry in Paris that brought together data scientists, academics and industry representatives as a statement of intent in its drive towards the digital industrial era.

"The economic weight of the industrial internet is as big as the consumer internet, but not everybody knows this, and you really see that the academic community is starting to understand this," Vincent Champain, GM of the European Foundry of GE Digital told Computerworld UK.

"Computer science is now connecting with industry and not in a specific case, but really becoming mainstream, because now with cheap sensors [and] cheap computation, people have been able to gather huge stacks of data and the key now is to find the needles of value in those stacks of data."

Champain says that every company and sector invested in industrial data innovation is exploring a combination of advanced data science and the power of cloud computing with agile methods to roll out apps at high speed and low cost.

First though, he says it is important to note that the type of data scientist required for industrial applications differs from those traditionally working in the consumer space.

"It's the real person mastering the law of physics around how assets behave," says Champain. "Compared to the consumer space, physics plays a huge role and knowing the machine, knowing the physics, thermodynamics, and the chemical reaction is key to bring performance."


How IoT is transforming the industrial world

Investors and the media tend to focus on the more domestic, consumer Internet of Things, but as machinery becomes intelligent the spending in that segment could soon be dwarfed by that of Industrial IoT (IIoT). Accenture estimates that it could add $14.2 trillion (£10.9 trillion) to the global economy by 2030.

IIoT is also known as the Industrial Internet, a term coined by General Electric (GE) in 2012. The American industrial conglomerate claims that this market could be worth $225 billion (£172 trillion) by 2020, by providing customers with the capability to autonomously monitor processes and make real-time adjustments.

GE has backed up its bold predictions with actions. In 2015 it founded GE Digital to drive its Industrial Internet business and released a cloud-based IoT operating platform called Predix that customers can use to develop apps that drive efficiencies by analysing real-time operational data.

Companies will spend €250 billion on IoT in 2020, according to research by Boston Consulting Group. GE Digital has developed a number of data-driven applications that will be competing for this investment.


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