An industrial internet could add $15trn dollars to global GDP and Eu2.2trn to European productivity by 2030 according to a report released by GE at a London event this week.
The report, The Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines, was officially released at an event held in Battersea Power Station, London earlier this week.
Key report findings were presented by GE CEO, Jeff Immelt, who emphasized the importance of the industrial internet to his company’s future and the growth of its service business.
Mr Immelt spoke of a “power of one” in the industrial internet which demonstrates how one per cent savings made by GE through exploiting new machine to machine technologies can multiply to offer massive benefits to users.
“A one per cent fuel performance saving can save $2 billion for our commercial aviation customers,” he stated. Other examples of the benefits that 1% savings can achieve across GE’s many market segments are detailed in the report.
Mr Immelt said that advances in the industrial internet were core to GE’s vision of achieving zero unplanned downtime for all of its customers. Other elements in the company’s servitisation strategy were termed “assets optimization and enterprise optimization”.
Mr Immelt described GE’s future as being based on performance guarantees founded on advanced analytics. While he assured that “GE will never become a software company as such” he did state that building skills and capability in analytics technologies is “will be the only way an industrial company can guarantee that the products it sells will be successful.”
Kenneth Cukier, The Economist’s data editor, also presented at the Minds and Machines event in London.
Mr Cukier acknowledged that scepticism exists in many industry quarters around the real usefulness of the industrial internet to business. He said he knew that the multiplicity of names for the associated technologies was confusing, referencing the ‘internet of things’, big data, and machine to machine technology.
His presentation explained however, why the explosion of data, particularly digital data in recent years, has effected a change state as well as a change in scale which means that the possibilities of intelligent machines have exponentially increased.
The report details this potential of networked intelligent equipment whereby information from each can be aggregated into a single information pool which accelerates ‘machine learning’.
Addressing the economic outcomes of the industrial internet and increased reliance on intelligent automated and autonomous devices, Cukier claimed that “a diminishment of jobs simply will not happen.” He said that the “algorithm between employment and technology which drives towards unemployment,” is fundamentally flawed.
GE’s chief economist Marco Annunziata agreed and urged European business leaders to invest in R&D and capability to become a part of the industrial internet revolution. He said that it would be key to solving Europe’s economic troubles but warned that Europe had a precedent of “missing the boat” on technology adoption and is already behind in its exploitation of the first internet revolution. He showed figures which indicate Europe has not yet used computing to achieve the hikes in productivity seen in the US.
To avoid a laggard position in adoption of the industrial internet, Mr Annunziata identified that governments and business must ensure “enabling conditions” are in place. In particular he said that “basic scientific literacy,” needs to be improved across the region. Not only to increase the number of engineers – especially software, electronic and electrical engineers – but to raise a general willingness to interact with and understand the potential of technology in all jobs.