GE looks to partners for Predix momentum

There are many players in the IoT platform space, but when it comes to industrial IoT (IIoT), the clear front-runners are GE and Siemens, with Bosch coming up on the rails.

PAC last caught up with GE Digital at the back end of last year, just around the time when the competed the beta launch of its $1bn industrial IoT (IIoT) platform. Several months into 2016, Predix is open for business and a number of GE's initiatives can be seen in the push to stand out as a major IIoT cloud platform provider.

As well as courting the developer community, GE has also developed some proprietary applications on top of Predix, such as the Digital Power Plant service, which already has 15 customers. GE Health Cloud also includes services designed to optimize distribution and the management of images.

Smart cities is another segment in which GE wants Predix to dominate and it has chosen Shanghai to be its hub for the development of new offerings. The company is already working on the development of China's first smart city – Tienjin - which will be built its smart services on top of Predix and leverage GE's intelligent LED lighting systems.

GE has also launched the GE Digital Alliance in order to create a partner ecosystem around Predix focusing on industrial applications. The idea is to speed up adoption with the help of some of the biggest telco, SI and hardware players, with allies including AT&T, Verizon, China Telecom, Vodafone, Accenture, Capgemini, TCS, TechMachindra, Wipro, Infosys, Intel and Cisco. Partners will have the access to a range of digital tools available on Predix together with GE's industrial know-how.

Out of these partnerships, PAC sees two as being particularly important: Cisco and TCS. The Cisco partnership puts GE into position to integrate Predix into the networking giant’s developing IoT connectivity story and gain momentum by putting Predix at the edge of the cloud. This is especially important from the real time analytics point of view, since in industrial applications data volumes can be huge - for example one turbine has 3,000 sensors.

GE also works with other players to prepare Predix for the edge computing. One of them is the device management platform provider Proximetry, where the two companies work on additional layer of security for devices. As a result of cooperation the PredixEdge manager was born, which basically represents a robust set of functions for cloud to edge management. PredixEdge is available to both internal and external developers community through Predix.io portal.

One of the most important features of IoT is advanced analytics and GE has a unique approach here according to one of GE Digital's executives. It uses the data of the device to create its digital twin, which is essentially a virtual copy of the device. The digital twin is then used to run a series of what-if scenarios to extract the knowledge about the device's behavior. We've seen a similarly branded concept in the PTC portfolio, but it resembled the AR based digital twin of the device that contains all of its available data.

The TCS alliance could also be a good move. India’s biggest IT services provider has already built some early momentum around Predix, and claims to have one of the largest bases of Predix expertise. More than 1,000 TCS developers will be trained in 2016 to work on Predix, and the two companies are already working on joint offerings in areas such as supply chain monitoring, satellite imaging analytics, predictive maintenance and engine telematics.

The IoT developer community is an important asset for GE. The manufacturing giant recognizes this and that's why it is investing heavily into various initiatives such as its digital hubs across Europe, Asia, and the States to train and make developers grow to love Predix. This, combined with the SI alliances designed to build services that can meet the business and technical challenges of its customers, will be important steps to keeping GE at the forefront of the IIoT hunt.