Asset Management / IIoT

A legacy of performance, a passion for innovation

By Chris McNamara

Aug 01, 2018

Sponsored by GE Digital

At just 90 days on the job, GE Digital CEO Pat Byrne is a fresh face on the GE Digital team. But with more than three decades of experience leading other technology businesses, the seasoned executive deftly opened September’s 2019 GE Digital User Conference in Austin, Texas, by celebrating a legacy of performance and challenging his team members with a bold vision for the future.

Byrne announced significant enhancements across the GE Digital software portfolio, including updates to Predix Essentials, which enables industrial companies to connect, visualize and analyze their data; Asset Answers, which helps customers understand the competitive potential of the company’s Predix Asset Performance Management (APM) suite; and Webspace 6.0, a new HTML5 interface that delivers automation data to operators across mobile devices.

“GE Digital continues to release innovations that forge the way for industrial customers working on transforming their operations,” said Byrne to a room full of customers, prospective customers, industry experts and GE Digital personnel. “By continuing to invest across our portfolio of industrial software, and by making it easier than ever for our customers to unlock the power of the Industrial IoT, GE Digital is strengthening its customers’ ability to become more productive, efficient and safe.”

Byrne credited GE Digital’s rich legacy as a major differentiator for success in this digital era. “It takes the ability to understand underlying assets and what it takes to operate those assets in order to support them,” he explained. “We have perspective as operators. We understand what it takes to deliver performance in water, process, power, oil & gas. We have those years under the belt; decades in grid environments, years of delivering value. It requires that ability to develop and scale software like this, particularly as it evolves.”

Byrne touched on the strategic framework GE Digital relies upon to deliver customer support on a global level, a framework that enables representatives to engage with customers with domain expertise that is physics-based, asset-focused, and business-process centric.

He noted that one of the greatest challenges in these transformative efforts is often the process itself—change management. (This theme would be repeated throughout the conference.) It’s not the technologies, rather the proper adoption of new processes inside the enterprise that makes them effective.

Operate. Analyze. Optimize.

Byrne described a three-prong strategy to empower customers with the newly enhanced software designed around operations, analysis and optimization, allowing customers to better:

  • Operate industrial equipment and systems, delivering higher ROI;
  • Analyze process and industry data to drive unique, actionable insights; and,
  • Optimize assets, operations and people, improving business outcomes.

Throughout the following two days of the GE Digital User Conference, users would share real-world examples of this operate/analyze/optimize approach in case studies shared with fellow attendees. These customers detailed their pain points, the strategies and software employed to fix them, and the outcomes that resulted. Collectively, these use cases communicated the scope of GE Digital’s efforts in putting the Industrial Internet to work.

“We’re not just talking about one asset, but the combination of assets and business processes across plants with a scalable architecture to enable all of the elements to perform for the business,” Byrne clarified. “A larger, platform strategy focused on business outcomes.”

He cited recent global projects that exemplified these concepts. Procter & Gamble using the Predix Manufacturing Data Cloud to aggregate data sets, optimize system footprint and scale its advantage in the marketplace. Intel capitalizing on the full capabilities of predictive analytics courtesy of Predix Essentials.

Heads nodded in the audience, including GE Digital team members charged with delivering these results, existing users who are currently benefitting from this approach, and prospective clients who had come to Texas this week to find solutions to their problems.

“It is so important that we are grounded in customers’ business priorities,” the CEO stressed, urging the GE Digital team to maintain their deep customer immersion rooted in a clear understanding of what drives those customers. “We have great technologies, we can improve on how we are deploying them,” he challenged, prompting his team to use these enhanced tools to further engage and equip their customers. “We are committed to continued innovation. And we’re just getting started.”