An article by Marco Annunziata, Chief Economist at GE
We live in a beautiful time. It is a time where cooperation will be rewarded, where man and machine can work as one to deliver a better world. This is not science fiction. This is our brilliant future.
The relationship between mind and machine is at a crucial juncture. Machines are becoming more and more powerful, their capabilities for learning and adaptation truly wonderful. At GE, we call this simply – brilliant.
At the same time that interaction, that synergy of mind and brilliant machine, is creating huge opportunity. There is often a sense, a mistaken idea, that there is a competition between minds and machines. There is no competition. It is a partnership. Machines now allow humans to do their jobs better, in a way which is more powerful, more rewarding, than ever before.
A brilliant opportunity for the world
The relationship between mind and machines today is at a turning point, because it gives us an opportunity to really improve the world of industry, and accelerate economic growth. This partnership allows us to improve the efficiency of existing industrial assets, existing industrial operations, in ways never before seen. We can increase output, deliver higher efficiencies and reduce down time.
This world of industrial plus digital is not arriving. It is here. These two are no longer exclusive. Industrial is digital. We’re already driving this change. And we should not be afraid of that. We survived the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution. What did they result in? Higher living standards, greater employment. Innovation is not the antithesis of growth, but the catalyst for it.
Going forward the potential rewards for this digital revolution are huge. We believe over the next 15 years, these technologies can add over 15 trillion dollars to global GDP. To put it in context, that’s the total size of the US economy today.
What will digital industrial mean for Southeast Asia?
The digital revolution is truly fascinating, because it will deliver a level playing field. This new wave of innovation is so fresh, so new, that even beginning with a potential disadvantage, less-developed infrastructure, a smaller manufacturing sector, the very nature of the revolution provides the tools for you to quickly leap ahead.
Southeast Asian economies have already been performing well by global standards. The potential for growth through the digital revolution are definitely there. Yes, there are some regional differences in terms of development of infrastructure, but what this revolution means is that by investing today in infrastructure, in power, and in digital infrastructure, the countries in the region can accelerate their growth enormously.
Investment in infrastructure and digital today have a potential pay off many times larger than any investment opportunity we’ve previously realised. That is hugely exciting for any region.
Making the most of this brilliant new world
Like any disruptive technology, there are elements which can be put in place to best ride this brilliant new wave. The first one is to continue to invest in education, because to drive innovation we need an educated labour force. That’s especially important in areas such as science, engineering and maths. Southeast Asia already has a really strong tradition in education. Continuing to invest in that education is extremely important.
The second key field is to invest in is infrastructure, especially power infrastructure. There are still too many people across the region who have no access to electricity. This access is important, both because it increases living standards, but also because it accelerates economic growth. Without access to electricity it’s hard to keep hospitals running, and it’s very hard to put in place a modern manufacturing cycle.
And the third element the region should consider is beginning to invest in digital technology, and digital infrastructure. This is something that goes well hand-in-hand with investment in infrastructure, especially in power, because the entire energy network can now be digitised. So the two investments in infrastructure and digital can take place at the same time. These investments are crucial to experience the greatest benefits of digital industry.
How to run a brilliant company
Digital industry is the synergy of mind and machine. You cannot have one without the other. Investing in people is the first step. Start with the minds. Start with the human capital. Invest in the right people, help them grow.
That cooperation between man and machine sets a template for innovation to follow. Cooperation will make the difference between success and failure in this new world. Be open to cooperation and collaboration, with other companies, with universities, with government institutions. These new innovations are so completely different from anything we’ve seen before, that nobody can do it by themselves. No company, no matter how big or successful, can do it on their own.
At GE we enjoy a wealth of talent, huge resources, but even we cannot do it by ourselves. We’re investing in cooperation with startups, with IT companies, with companies across the world, as well as with customers in the region. This is a brilliant new world, and we will succeed or fail by how we work and live in it with others by our side.
The future of this brilliant world
Already the acceleration of digital industry has begun. We should be prepared for enormous progress over the next 3-5 years, both in Southeast Asia and across the world. Industrial data is set to account for 50% of global data by 2020. That’s not just a statistic. That’s a wonderful opportunity.
In the next decade the true impact of digital industrial will be clear. This digital revolution is set to change our world, but it will probably never be complete, never be over. Innovation never stops.
We should not be complacent however. It is we who will drive this change. Only by working together, with machines, with each other, can we deliver the greatest impact. Most of all we should strive not to fear this brave new digital future. It’s already here. And so far, it’s really rather brilliant.