Our world is filled with sensors and devices. Interactions between people and machines are improving every day. I rented a car recently and whenever I came too close to another object my seat started vibrating to ensure I was aware of a potential issue. This is just one everyday example illustrating how technology is transforming our experience and our expectations in the digital age.

Our energy customers’, and more importantly, our customers’ customers’ expectations are changing too. Energy, and specifically electricity, is a mission-critical and real-time commodity. It is expected all the time. And if nothing happens when the switch is flipped, it can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Indeed, many view the electricity grid and related power systems as the most critical of all our essential infrastructures because it is the one infrastructure that enables all others.  And it’s why we’re changing the name of our business to GE Energy Connections to reflect this active and essential role our team plays in the GE Store.

But the energy industry is undergoing a transformation. Due, in part, to the Internet of Things, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes. (Source: IDC)  

How the digital universe relates to this critical infrastructure is being realized in many ways: From the basic delivery of energy, to the optimization of existing infrastructure and data, and beyond, with new opportunities for value creation and services for the future. Our journey to connect the brilliant machines, grids and systems that deliver energy to the people and places that need it most will always begin with customers.

Today’s electricity customers expect to be connected all the time and everywhere, and want to be able to plug in all of their devices and access new services.

Digitization allows electricity to be delivered more reliably, managing the delicate balance of supply and demand in a more holistic yet precise way.

Our Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) was developed with this in mind.  As consumers become more technically savvy, they expect to have information at their fingertips, on demand. Now, grid operators using GE’s ADMS can update their customers about an outage status from the control room using a Twitter widget within the ADMS. This keeps electricity customers informed of restoration progress wherever they are in near real-time.  As for our industrial customers in the oil and gas and marine sectors, they don’t simply expect to be connected; they rely on it to avoid millions of dollars in unplanned downtime and repair costs. And, at the same time, while they demand power grids and systems to supports their needs, they also want flexibility and choice in how and when they use energy.   

Digitization is also about making our manufacturing customers more efficient and productive. We combined GE’s award-winning HMI/SCADA software with our rugged Industrial PC platform in our SCADA Edge IPC product. This collects, optimizes and processes data from brilliant machines so our customers can monitor and control every aspect of their shop environment, equipment and resources—boosting operator effectiveness and reducing downtime. In the same vein of efficiency, Predix set sail with SeaStream™ Insight, which gathers and analyses data across an entire ship and then uses prescriptive and predictive analytics to reduce downtime and service cost. 

Finally, with more than 1 billion people in the world still without access to electricity, digitization is allowing us to create localized power generation and distribution in places where extending the grid the traditional way may not be viable. We’re developing microgrid technology powered by diverse forms of distributed generation to reach new customers, create new services to connect energy’s possibilities and literally turn the world on.  

The dawn of the Digital Industrial is here. Let’s turn the world on together with connected power solutions.

Our journey to connect the brilliant machines, grids and systems that deliver energy to the people and places that need it most will always begin with customers.

About the author

Karim El Naggar

Chief Digital Officer, GE Energy Connections

Karim believes the connection between OT and IT is vital for success in today’s industrial world. In his current role as Energy Connections’ Chief Digital Officer, he is leading the charge to enable innovation and a culture of positive disruption across the EC landscape for the ultimate value of our global energy customers and the communities they serve.

Related insights