Fire bullets, then cannonballs. This mantra, taken from the bestselling book “Great By Choice” by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen, describes the disciplined approach 10X companies take when making big bets such as launching new products, new business models or new markets.

In July 2015, we shot the first bullet point when we kicked off a startup program in Israel - a high-touch program that incubates startup software companies, allowing them to develop apps and microservices and place them in the Predix service catalog.

Today, we have 11 companies in the program. This initiative represents one of the first significant bullets fired in the industrial app economy. Some observers might think that GE would focus first on home-grown apps that complement our devices and services. This is only partially true; in order to create a meaningful ecosystem, our job is to also hunt for killer apps, no matter the source, as long as they meet industrial customers’ needs. This is what the app economy is all about. Startup companies are natural candidates to develop such apps.

In order to create a meaningful ecosystem, our job is to also hunt for killer apps, no matter the source, as long as they meet industrial customers’ needs.

So, what are the benefits of collaborating with startups as app developers?

Cast a wider net—Startups develop solutions that solve problems that matter to our customers but are outside the scope of GE’s core product roadmap. An example is Genoox, a small Tel-Aviv-based company developing an app that takes large volumes of genomic sequencing data, compresses them to 15% of the original data size, and performs analysis for early diagnosis of chronic diseases.

Scale fast—Funded tech companies with strong leadership and development teams as well as differentiated solutions will deliver faster than organic teams in a large corporation. The tradeoff can sometimes be absence of device know-how and development rigor.

Adopt innovation from adjacent worlds—A lot has been said about the IT & OT convergence (i.e., deploying IT platforms in industrial systems). Creating an ecosystem of third-party developers brings IT innovators to solve big OT problems. An example is SparkBeyond, which invented an automated research engine capable of discovering complex patterns in data on the web and meshing it with proprietary data for power and oil and gas sectors.

Startups talk! Innovation hubs such as Silicon valley, Israel and Boston create strong networks of entrepreneurs. Create a platform for independent software vendors (ISVs) to develop solutions and go to market, and they will tell the rest about it. In a recent meetup I held in front of 70 entrepreneurs, 8 of our 11 program participants showed up and shared their experiences. This is how we are creating the app economy with third-party ISVs. But this is just the first bullet.

As we prepare to include more startups in our ecosystem, GE Digital is gearing up to open global foundries in central locations across the world. More bullets!

Get ready for the cannonball.

About the author

Yinnon Dolev

Director, Predix Startup Program

Yinnon is the Director of the Predix Startup Program in Israel. He is creating an intersection between startup companies who develop industrial IoT solutions and industrial markets.