GE has established a remarkable ecosystem around Predix

At its annual partner show "Minds & Machines 2017", which took place in Berlin in mid-June, GE sent out a strong signal to the German and European industrial sector, i.e. that data-driven business services will be the key success factor for each and every industrial company's digital transformation. Not surprisingly, GE sees its own IoT platform “Predix” as the central data hub for managing the entirety of data at industrial companies, regardless of what machines and systems are in use.

To underline its ambitious goals, GE presented several use cases at the event: the example of DB Cargo, the biggest German railway cargo carrier, which uses Predix for monitoring and maintenance purposes in more than 250 of its diesel locomotives, serves well to demonstrate Predix's ability to integrate with third-party assets. Each locomotive sends its usage data to the central Predix platform, where the information is analyzed and the results provided to DB Cargo to provide a transparent view on the technical status quo as well as maintenance forecasts. None of the trains was produced by GE.

At the event, GE did not unveil any current figures about Predix – neither on the number of companies using Predix in their daily operations nor on sales volumes. However, Predix was strongly empasized as the main component of GE's digital business, which is expected to become a $ 1 billion organization by 2020 at the latest. To achieve this goal, it will be essential for Predix to attract a much larger number of user companies than is the case today and to meet a vast variety of client demands in terms of vertical applications and functionality – in fact more than GE is able to develop on its own.

In the context of this development it can be said that GE's app marketplace has attracted more than 700 partner companies since its inception, and over 1,000 software developers have been certified. The partner ecosystem is actively working on vertical and horizontal solutions (e.g. for security, ERP integration and interfaces).

A particularly remarkable application is “Servicemax”, a cloud-based solution mapping the entire field service process on mobile devices used by mobile service staff. Servicemax's solution makes sure that service technicians automatically receive any information and tool required to solve service orders placed by clients, be it order data, scheduling, route planning or digital construction plans and instructions for maintenance work. The tool seems to have pleased GE a lot, as is evident from its decision at the end of 2016 to take over the company for more than $ 900 million.

The acquisition underlines the focus of the Predix tool: While main competitor Siemens wants to leverage its strong position in the automation environment to establish its IoT platform “Mindsphere” across the worldwide manufacturing industry, GE is using a broader vertical approach, covering several industries and focusing on data-based service processes. The remarkable size of its ecosystem puts GE in a favorable position to kick-off its own digital journey: in comparison to Siemens, GE is the clear leader in terms of the number of development partners, a fact owing to its early start in the IoT platform game.