Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Ready for the Industrial Internet? GE Announces “Predictivity” Platform, New Partnership With Amazon Web Services


At the recent D: All Things Digital conference earlier this month, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt talked a lot about the savings that could be realized via a massive expansion of the so-called “Industrial Internet”, in order to reduce waste and maximize use of critical machines — such as power turbines — via sensors and other collected data.

GE is calling it “Predictivity,” the industrial giant announced a Hadoop-based software platform for high-volume, machine data management at an event in San Francisco. The big data and analytics platform will include expanded partnerships with Accenture and Pivotal, as well as a new partnership with Amazon Web Services for cloud storage.

“This marks the first time industrial companies will have a common architecture, combining intelligent machines, sensors and advanced analytics,” said GE in a press release.

Machine data is a big topic going forward, since such information is growing at a massively rapid pace via sensors and other real-time analytics technologies and it extraordinarily complex compared to the consumer Internet. In simple terms, everything from your jet engine to your washing machine is talking to the Web in an endless dialogue full of important information.

This will be a big business. A new report released today by Wikibon said that spending on the Industrial Internet will reach $514 billion by 2020, as huge amounts of raw data needs computing in real-time. (See below.)

It’s a little complex, but GE’s push into software that harnesses big data and analytics to make more efficient machines is a big deal. GE, for example, recently made a $105 million investment in Pivotal, an enterprise “platform-as-a-service” company which is run by former VMware CEO and top Microsoft exec Paul Maritz. It is a spin-off of VMware and EMC.

At a panel discussion at the announcement, AWS CTO Werner Vogels talked about the huge amounts of storage needed. “Big data here is one of those cases where collecting more data results in a better outcome,” he said, giving examples ranging from oil rigs to oceanographers. “It’s not just the analytics, it’s the whole pipeline.”

Maritz noted how important real-time information is critical for businesses, as well as taking cues from what has been done in the consumer space. “What I think is really exciting is taking the lessons learned in consumer Internet and going on a journey of information here,” he said.

Later, Maritz added about the challenges of creating a common platform: “This needs to be bigger than any one of us.”

“The Industrial Internet should be like the Internet,” said Bill Ruh, who runs GE’s global software business. “This is an ecosystem play.”

Here’s the video of the full interview I did with Immelt at D11, talking about it all:

In its Internet push of late, GE has also been expanding its Silicon Valley presence, with a new office and a formal name for its longtime investment efforts. GE Ventures — which has a financial commitment of $150 million annually from GE — is part of the company’s larger tech presence in the area, which also includes its new software and analytics center in nearby San Ramon, which has hired hundreds of engineers since late 2011.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle