Collaboration Isn't Just for People

Today's Collaborative Infrastructure Can Bring Together Devices and Applications, Too.

By Steve Kuehn

Mike Milburn, operations vice president for's service cloud, believes that companies in search of competitive agility need to start collaborating more effectively internally with their customers and with the technologies they field.

At GE Intelligent Platforms' Connected World event on October 15th, the company created a conference and thought leadership salon at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago to discuss how the Industrial Internet is connecting data, machines and people to deliver innovation and business results. Milburn was there to help guests and the media understand how highly integrated human and machine networks are enabling dynamic, revenue-driving initiatives.

In his remarks, Milburn painted a bright commercial landscape where process and equipment data, social networks and customer relationship management (CRM) tools work together to create innovative business strategies.

Also Read: Industrial Machine Performance: The Power of One Percent

According to Milburn, customers are running more than 3 million applications on's platform. These customers rely on the CRM provider to complete a billion or so transactions daily -- transactions that support a broad range of business goals including up-sell and cross-sell initiatives, field service and preventive maintenance solutions as well as providing operational and other customer data in pursuit of actionable market and customer insights. "Companies are using these applications to connect deeper into their customers, their employees and their supply chains," he said.

As an example, Milburn cited hardware manufacturer Digi, which used's Application Exchange tool to integrate data from its devices into its customers' CRM systems. To execute the project, had referred Digi to systems integrator Etheriose, which Digi acquired a short time later. Within three months of the merger, said Milburn, Digi had created an App Exchange package that allows customers "to quickly and seamlessly integrate machines and devices through their device cloud into Digi's solution connects devices at the hardware layer to control and manage them safely and securely. Meanwhile, data is gleaned for use in CRM business processes."

The Application Exchange is but one of a new breed of platforms enabling human collaboration against machine data. "It provides companies such as Digi the means to interact and respond through a proven integrated interface with the data emanating from their connected machines and devices."

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