It is one of the most revered industrial giants in the world, anchored in Boston and operating from around the world with businesses in aviation, energy, healthcare and many others and now GE Digital. GE Digital is at the core of company’s transformation into Digital Industrial. And how! By connecting streams of machine data to powerful analytics and people, providing industrial companies with valuable insights to manage assets and operations more efficiently. A transformation that now makes it a ‘Digital Industrial’; combining company’s rich expertise in industry with new technology talent at locations like the new state of the art digital hub in Bangalore. Based in Whitefield, the 200,000 sq ft facility is the largest digital hub for GE. The company recently announced that it will create job opportunities for technology talent and plans to add over 1000 positions in the coming two years’ time. The Digital Hub is part of a network of technology centers that GE has, spread out across San Ramon, Detroit, New Orleans, Glen Allen, Budapest, Riyadh and Bangalore.
If you thought GE’s legacy was just industrial-focused, the US conglomerate proves you wrong with its complete reinvention. In an exclusive chat with Pradeep Menon, Vice President – Analytics and Data Domain, GE Digital tells Analytics India Magazine what led to the birth of Predix and how it is built on a bedrock of analytics. He also spoke about why GE took on the role of digital and its bullish plan to be among the most noted analytics captives globally. AIM got an exclusive look at the spanking new facility outfitted with cutting edge office & workspace technologies. “Organizations in today’s world have to move towards a digital reality. It is more an imperative, than an option and GE Digital is GE’s answer to that and the latest startup in the 124-year-old company. And to make it successful, we will be bringing in the best talent available into our hubs with a renewed focus on diverse talent at leadership and analyst levels” shared Menon, over the twenty-minute long interview.
In fact, GE Digital is unlike any other GE office, which underscores how GE the multinational wants to reinforce its status as the premiere digital industrial company. The digital efficiency is evident not just in services delivered but in the office across the board. For example, AIM observed employees can locate their colleagues across floors over a Digital Bridge app, or jump into a video conference just by the conference room identifying them through their phones or laptops.
Well, GE is not entirely abandoning its industrial heritage either. GE is bringing the Industrial Internet to life by connecting machine sensors on a network and allowing them to communicate with each other. GE combines decades of experience building innovative industrial machines with cutting-edge data science and analytics expertise today. In fact, Predix, the “cloud-based operating system for the industrial internet of things” is driving the global economy, connecting heavy machinery, industrial equipment and helping derive real-time insights from them. “By 2020, Predix will be processing a million terabytes per day. World-class talent and software capabilities help us drive digital industrial transformation for big gains in productivity, availability and longevity. Industrial is something that GE is very familiar with and an area that we are well known for, so there is a lot of knowledge we can use in building these applications,” explains Menon.
Predix – Driving digital industrial transformation through Digital Twins
Predix as a platform is built on the bedrock of analytics. What it does is, it takes sensor data from each of the products or platforms on which it is deployed and builds that into various models. With this information GE can then build a digital twin, which means, for every physical asset there is an equivalent digital asset that exists in the cloud. The digital asset in turn is maintained and that allows us to predict how the physical asset will perform. “For instance, if you have a renewable energy system deployed in a wind farm and you need to know the optimum operating parameters for the system, Predix and the digital twin can solve that for you. It also enables those systems to talk to other systems on the same network and optimize overall efficiency. Similarly, you can also have locomotives and aircraft engines communicating with their control centers and allowing real time decision to be taken basis their current performance. The whole backend infrastructure can be built on Predix,” explains Menon.
What are your plans for leading the race in Analytics?
There are big plans underfoot at GE Digital to make it one of the biggest analytics captives in India. And the bold move is justified by its ambitious hiring plan, with the Bangalore Digital Hub planning to add over 1000 tech professionals in the coming 2 years, primarily in the data and analytics space. Menon also mentioned that many of the upcoming Data and Analytics roles will also be based out of Budapest, Riyadh and the others centers in the US. “GE is moving to more of a horizontal focus when it comes to analytics and some other areas and that allows us to leverage synergies in this space across all our business units. This also enables better efficiencies and governance while remaining nimble and business focused, we believe in Reuse Rather Reinventing the wheel” added Menon.
What will propel GE Digital towards accomplishing these plans? These are some of the basic milestones outlined by the GE Digital executive for expanding it’s analytics capabilities over the next couple of years. Let’s have a look at what’s driving these milestones. There are 5 products that the data and analytics horizontal will look to build on in terms of capabilities.
- Predix analytics: Loosely defined as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Analytics and all analytics on the Predix platform
- Data sciences: The application of math & computational data techniques vis –a-vis machine or deep Learning techniques are not necessarily the same thing. While one is more exploratory, the other is end driven with predictive modeling and trying to prove or disprove hypotheses.
- Business Analytics or Decision Analytics: The application of industrial knowledge or functional knowledge to solve a problem by applying domain depth along with numbers. GE extends its analytical capabilities in HR analytics, supply chain analytics and commercial analytics among other service lines.
- Business Intelligence and Data Visualization: It is largely about taking consolidated data from various sources and making it presentable to businesses in a way that they could make informed decisions based on it.
- Data Engineering: Data engineering is the process of piping & ingesting information from various transactional sources into consolidated data lakes, data warehouses and making that available for all sorts of analytics.
The GE Digital executive believes that the new digital hub is a step in the right direction — boosting its digital capabilities which will make GE one of the best companies to work for in the analytics space globally. “In today’s world it is all about teamwork, you cannot leg it alone. We are building an ecosystem of Predix partners & creating talent brand with universities. We want to foster a culture of collaboration, a culture of curiosity and encourage reuse of ideas and innovations,” he said.
Exciting times ahead at GE Digital, for sure.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.