If software experts truly knew what Jeff Immelt and GE Digital were doing, there’s no other software company on the planet where they would rather be. –Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital and CDO for GE
In September 2015, multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) launched an ad campaign featuring a recent college graduate, Owen, excitedly breaking the news to his parents and friends that he has just landed a computer programming job — with GE. Owen tries to tell them that he will be writing code to help machines communicate, but they’re puzzled; after all, GE isn’t exactly known for its software. In one ad, his friends feign excitement, while in another, his father implies Owen may not be macho enough to work at the storied industrial manufacturing company.
The campaign was designed to recruit Millennials to join GE as Industrial Internet developers and remind them — using GE’s new watchwords, “The digital company. That’s also an industrial company.” — of GE’s massive digital transformation effort. GE has bet big on the Industrial Internet — the convergence of industrial machines, data, and the Internet (also referred to as the Internet of Things) — committing $1 billion to put sensors on gas turbines, jet engines, and other machines; connect them to the cloud; and analyze the resulting flow of data to identify ways to improve machine productivity and reliability. “GE has made significant investment in the Industrial Internet,” says Matthias Heilmann, Chief Digital Officer of GE Oil & Gas Digital Solutions. “It signals this is real, this is our future.”
While many software companies like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft have traditionally been focused on providing technology for the back office, GE is leading the development of a new breed of operational technology (OT) that literally sits on top of industrial machinery.