General Electric claims it was the first company to have launched an industrial internet of things platform when it released Predix last year.
The company’s software business unit, GE Digital, has been generating revenues of more than $4 billion a year, and looks like it’s strongly influencing the future direction of the overall business.
Another one of the big ideas at GE is the “Brilliant Factory” concept, which is essentially the digitalisation of anything and everything that can be digitised in a manufacturing or industrial process.
One of the champions of the Brilliant Factory concept is Jamie Miller, according to GoErie.com.
Miller has now been transported from her role as CEO of GE Transportation to her new role as chief financial officer at the parent company, GE.
While CEO sounds good, the move is actually a promotion, as Miller will now have much greater influence over the direction of GE as a whole, rather than just one of its business units.
The Miller move is one of many new personnel changes made by new CEO John Flannery, who says: “Jamie’s deep experience in finance, digital technology and business operations make her the right person for this role as GE continues to transform into a digital industrial company.
“We’ve relied on her leadership to manage the business through a tough cycle, and she has consistently delivered for our customers, shareholders and employees.”
Miller has been with GE almost 10 years and in that time she has been GE’s chief information officer, where she led the company’s global information technology strategy, services and operations, and delivered transformational technology such as Brilliant Factory.
The fact that this is pointed out in a company statement announcing the personnel changes could mean significant moves in the software space are being planned by GE.
While the company’s Predix platform has been generating many headlines and much revenue, many other companies have now developed rival industrial internet of things platforms.
Among them are European engineering giants Siemens and ABB.
Siemens has something called MindSphere and ABB has Ability.
But what could be the market to watch is the product lifecycle management market, where Siemens looks to be dominant.
The German company has been buying up a variety of smaller companies to add greater functionality and more features to its already huge and sophisticated PLM solution.
Plus, buying them stops GE from buying them.
GE, meanwhile, has invested a significant amount of money in Aras, the PLM specialist. While it’s not a takeover, and GE does not seem to have a PLM solution it wants to market, it’s growing suite of digital solutions will probably inevitably become a fully fledge PLM in time.
The company currently uses PLM solutions provided by outside companies, such as Aras – which partly explains the investment by GE Ventures, but a PLM solution from GE itself may be the next stage for the company’s Predix and Brilliant Manufacturing offerings.
Compared to Siemens’ suite of software for digitalising industrial processes, GE’s Brilliant Manufacturing looks to be more limited in scope.
But GE Digital is already one of the top 10 largest software companies in the world just on the strength of Predix and other products, so it might not need to expand its software suite in order to continue growing.
Meanwhile, GE’s sale of its industrial business unit to ABB could be seen as a way to strengthen one of Siemens’ European rivals.