This IDC Manufacturing Insights Perspective looks at GE's annual Minds + Machines conference earlier in the year that revealed that GE is truly on the path to digital transformation (DX). With the announcement of GE Digital as a separate software division, Predix as platform as a service in the cloud, and ready-to-roll asset performance management, this manufacturing company is evolving. IT-enabled services are in the quiver along with GE's more traditional OEM services and sale of equipment. The company has all the elements of DX that IDC believes are essential to success. A commitment from CEO Jeff Immelt, a reworking of the operating models, a focus on information, and a refreshing view toward sourcing work with partners and developers are in the mix.
Immelt has set some ambitious goals for this new venture, one of which is $15 billion in revenue from GE Digital by 2020 — certainly a stretch. Still, the resources are all there to deliver — 30,000 employees are focused on this part of the business. Seasoned IT experts, recruits from Silicon Valley stalwarts such as Twitter, and data scientists are meeting engineers and rapidly getting to know one another. There is active recruitment of developer partners to build apps on Predix and a setup for monetizing that. In addition, there are some impressive names in rail, aviation, energy, manufacturing, and healthcare that have signed on and are proving out the concepts at scale. One name that is hard to miss is P&G moving forward with the Brilliant Manufacturing. Immelt believes GE can be successful because "Fast is better than slow, and big and fast is better than small and fast."
The theme of the digital twin was threaded throughout the conference. Not surprisingly, there is a digital twin for large plant components. One example included a "digital twin" setup for energy traders to collaborate with generation plant operators. For manufacturing, the concept of digital twin has usually meant the simulated representation of a manufactured product, but more recently, it's being applied to products, plants, and processes. In IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Manufacturing Product and Service Innovation 2016 Predictions (IDC #259809, November 2015), we predicted that "by 2017, 40% of large manufacturers will use virtual simulation to model their products, manufacturing processes, and service delivery to optimize product and service innovation."