GE Digital continues to build out its platform and ecosystem of applications while new GE CEO John Flannery confirmed his commitment to the digitalization strategy begun under his predecessor.

The sixth Minds + Machines conference featured about 90% growth in attendance from last year. Begun five years ago not long after the company began assembling its digital strategy as a thought leadership gathering, the conference has evolved into a substantial user conference. Attendance was reported at about 3,700 filling much of Moscone Center West in San Francisco.

I’ve summarized the announcements from the event below. My initial takeaway for the biggest news of the day was GE’s emphasis on building a partner ecosystem. As the company built out its Predix platform, it seemed to be on a track for keeping everything close to home. Saying that they could move more quickly to market, they talked about working more with partners. One executive told me that the partnership with Microsoft for Predix on Azure was the most significant announcement of the week.

This is my first time here and reinforces the idea that GE Digital is a major player in the industry segment begging comparison with Siemens. Some thought also ABB (they should not have forgotten Schneider) also.

Most of my discussions involved Asset Performance Management, the new Operations Performance Management (see below), and helping me understand Predix.

Following is a summary of announcements:

Flannery touched on some statistics from a survey concerning the “digital gap” of perceived importance of a digital transformation and how far along companies are.

GE Digital Industrial Evolution Index
The inaugural Index reflects a total score of 63 on a scale of 100 and indicates that while outlook for the Industrial Internet is very strong, scoring 78.3 (out of 100), company readiness significantly lags, scoring 55.2 (out of 100). This disconnect – between outlook and company readiness – presents both a challenge and opportunity for companies seeking to benefit from the IIoT. 86% believe digital industrial transformation is important to the competitiveness of their companies, with the majority (76%) rating the ability to provide higher quality services as the foremost outcome of digital industrial transformation.

GE unveiled expansions to its suite of edge-to-cloud technologies and industrial applications.

Edge-to-Cloud Intelligence on Any Industrial Asset, Anywhere
GE Digital is expanding its Predix Edge capabilities to help run analytics as close to the source of data as possible. Predix Edge gives customers with limited connectivity, latency limitations, regulatory or other constraints a way to deploy applications closer to the originating data.

Enhancements include:
• Predix Edge Manager allows customers to support large fleets of edge devices – up to 200,000 connected devices from a single console.
• Predix Machine enables microservice-based applications to run at the edge on customers’ virtualized data center infrastructure or on server-class hardware from GE or its partners. This also supports Predix Edge Manager, which was previously available only as a cloud service.
• Predix complex event processing (CEP) allows for faster and more efficient analytics and other event processing at extreme low latency, available at the edge in Q1 2018.

Predix Platform on Microsoft Azure
Announced last year and available generally in 2018, GE Digital and Microsoft partnership extends the accessibility of Predix to Microsoft’s global cloud footprint, including data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities and advanced developer and data services, enabling customers around the world to capture intelligence from their industrial assets.

Operations Performance
Alongside its Asset Performance Management (APM) software, the core application, GE Digital introduced Operations Performance Management (OPM), a solution helps industrials optimize the throughput of industrial processes.

OPM uses real-time and historical data – along with advanced analytics – to help customers make better operational decisions. The solution provides an early warning if industrial processes deviate from plan, arms operators with the information and time to troubleshoot operational issues and helps them take preventative actions to meet business goals. GE Digital’s OPM software initially targets the mining industry and will expand to additional industries early next year.

Enhanced Field Service Management Solutions
With service technicians looking to embrace technology to improve their productivity and deliver a better experience for customers, ServiceMax from GE Digital announced several enhancements to its FSM suite – enabling even greater efficiencies and bringing advanced analytics to service operations.

• Artificial intelligence-enabled predictive service times now integrate the Apache Spark AI engine to improve service time estimates.
• Additionally, a new application integration solution enables service providers to launch and share FSM data with third-party mobile applications installed on the same device.
• New capabilities in schedule optimization allow for dependent job scheduling between work orders for multiple visits aimed at improving first-time fix rates.

Predix Studio
GE Digital also introduced Predix Studio to help companies build and scale their own industrial applications and extend its Asset Performance Management (APM) suite. Available in Q1 2018, Predix Studio simplifies the development process by giving customers the ability to extend applications and empower industrial subject matters experts to build apps in a low-code, high-productivity environment.

Digital Twin Analytics Workbench
A solution that applies a library of algorithms and templates to make it faster and easier for companies to build their own digital twins on Predix. The Analytics Workbench, currently a technology preview from GE Power, can be used to augment existing digital twins with new data streams. For example, power producers using drones to inspect wind turbine blades, pipelines or fuel reserves can integrate visual inspection data into the digital twins they already use to manage generation assets and grid infrastructure.

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