Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE, kicked off Minds + Machines on Tuesday underscoring the speed of the change. The world is moving faster, driving change with the light speed exchange of information creating complex networks of connected machines—and GE will be there to guide this evolution.
“We’re going to see the same kind of disruption and spontaneous restructuring that digital brought to music, to shopping, to media at an even more fundamental level,” she said.
GE CEO Jeff Immelt followed , issuing a stark challenge to industry: “We’ve got to reboot productivity.”
Only through the merger of the digital and the industrial can we reverse the trend of slumping productivity, which saw miniscule 0.5% growth from 2011-2015.
This digital transformation has been going on at GE for the last five years, Immelt explained. It started with the company driving productivity for its own operations, then expanded to driving the transformation for its own customers. Increasingly, GE is bringing it to the world.
Minds + Machines is an annual showcase for what GE and its partners have learned in the course of their digital transformation. A sell-out crowd of more than 2,700 attendees from 50 countries came to learn how to start realizing the gains of the digital industrial revolution. It’s not just about gathering data and eliminating downtime for machines; the revolution is also about evolving culture, finding new revenue streams, and even creating entirely new markets.
Ultimately, it’s about change.
“I encourage you to embrace this,” Immelt said. “Because change will find you.”
Industry seems to have gotten the message, according to GE Chief Digital Officer and CEO of GE Digital, Bill Ruh.
“Today, as I talk to customers, it’s clear a digital-industrial movement is underway,” Ruh said. “What everyone wants to now know is the how?” How can companies get started?
The advantage that all industrial businesses enjoy, Ruh noted, is they can start transforming their own operations. They can gather data, optimize their machines, and start reducing costs. Once they get experience, they can take digital solutions to their customers and create new markets.
GE customers offered their own stories on the main stage.
Ahmed Hashmi, the global head of upstream technology at multinational oil and gas company BP, said the biggest lever his industry has for change is digital. The industry has invested heavily in digital over the years, upgrading its seismic capabilities for example, but there’s still a long way to go. For instance only 5% of data coming from BP’s oil platforms is being used towards anything meaningful, he said.
“That’s the data that’s got hidden value in it; that’s the data we want to get at,” Hasmi said of the remaining 95%. After seeing what GE was doing, BP started a pilot with GE Digital’s Asset Performance Management (APM) with an asset in the Gulf of Mexico. Now the company plans to scale it across the company’s portfolio, he said.
The lesson for industry? “You have to go after something that’s big,” Hashmi said.
Minds + Machines continues today. Catch a replay of the November 15 keynotes here.