The Industrial Internet may promise unprecedented efficiency and growth, but as revolutions go, it’s not entirely without precedent. We can look to the rise of the consumer and enterprise Internets for lessons on how the digital industrial era will unfold.

For one, we know that connecting devices, managing previously unmanageable amounts of data, and applying advanced analytics to that data can unleash massive change. The consumer Internet and the rise of mobility transformed how we live – toppling entire industries almost overnight (remember travel agents?) and sparking whole new markets (Sharing isn’t just good behavior; it’s now a global economy).

Similarly, the rise of enterprise SaaS changed the way we work. The back office blurred with the front office, and CFOs and CIOs took much more strategic seats at the table. Logistics and SCM got smarter and stretched out in every direction to become the value chain. And of course, the consumer and business revolutions collided – productively -- into each other with ecommerce, social media, CRM, and more recently, CX.

So, why am I,  a career alliances and channels leader, sketching out this knock-off WIRED magazine version of recent history?

The answer is simple: platforms and ecosystems – perhaps the most important lessons learned from those earlier Internet revolutions. Based on the consumer and business precedents, we know that the Industrial Internet requires a common development platform. And once in place, that platform will lead to the rapid growth of a powerful, productive, and highly profitable ecosystem.

You only need to glance at your mobile phone to recall that iOS gave us the App Store and Android gave us Google Play. If we’re looking ahead to the Industrial Internet, though, Salesforce and its platform offer an even more compelling indication of what’s coming.

By opening up its cloud-based platform, Salesforce connected  third-party developers and service providers with its vast customer base -- all in a marketplace under its own management. The result was alchemy and a thriving ecosystem. According to the analysts at IDC, the value of professional services going through the ecosystem was 2.9x Salesforce’s own revenues in 2014, and will rise to 3.7x in 2018.[1]

GE has similar expectations for the Industrial Internet – only bigger. To get a sense of the scale, consider the growth projected for this space: 50 billion industrial devices connected and a market size of $225 billion by 2020, per GE estimates.

We built Predix as the “operating system” for the Industrial Internet, and we recently opened this industrial-strength cloud platform so third-party developers can build a marketplace of industrial apps and deliver previously unachievable productivity. Because we're GE, we know how to deliver customer outcomes, and today's industrial opportunity requires not only that approach, but also a broader ecosystem of partners to meet customers' evolving goals.

To help spur the growth of the digital industrial ecosystem, we just unveiled our groundbreaking GE Digital Alliance Program. It was no coincidence that the announcement came at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, the Olympics of global connectivity and technology innovation.

The GE Digital Alliance Program will bring together all countries, regions, verticals, and partner types -- systems integrators, independent software vendors, service and technology providers, and resellers. We are creating a world-class partner experience, including streamlined partner operations, tools, training, and enablement. GE Digital will track our partners’ success and overall contributions using a four-tiered system, and as they invest and build their Industrial Internet business practices, they can move up in the program - tapping into an expanding array of sales, marketing, and technical benefits.

So based on the precedents and projected growth, we believe the Industrial Internet may add up this way: One program + one platform = A thriving ecosystem and countless opportunities.



[1] The SalesForce White Paper

We know that the Industrial Internet requires a common development platform. And once in place, that platform will lead to the rapid growth of a powerful, productive, and highly profitable ecosystem.

About the author

Denzil Samuels

Global Head of Channels, Alliances, Business Development and Ventures, GE Digital

Denzil believes building a dynamic ecosystem across all partner categories, will drive significant growth and propel GE to becoming one of the top 10 software companies in the world. He works tirelessly to bring all partner components together to accelerate the development of a common marketplace to help Industry realize the full value of the Industrial Internet. He recently championed the GE Digital Alliance Program to bring together countries, regions and verticals, as the foundation for this new marketplace.  Follow Denzil on Twitter: @DenzilSamuels