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Big Data NYT NOW

G.E. Opens Its Big Data Platform

By Quentin Hardy
October 9, 2014 9:30 am October 9, 2014 9:30 am PhotoSensors equipped to jet engines and other General Electric machines feed data to central repositories, which can analyze and manage enormous amounts of data about their performance.Sensors equipped to jet engines and other General Electric machines feed data to central repositories, which can analyze and manage enormous amounts of data about their performance.Credit Matt Sullivan/Reuters

Thomas Edison would be proud. General Electric, the company he started, still knows how to make a buck off cutting-edge technology.

In this case, the technology is in the so-called Internet of Things, in which sensors feed data to central repositories, which can analyze and manage enormous amounts of data from the machines. Initial uses include more efficient maintenance, remote monitoring, asset tracking and spotting new patterns of behavior that might be profitably exploited.

Work on the IoT has been a priority of G.E.’s chief executive, Jeff Immelt, for more than three years. On Thursday, the company announced that revenue from its IoT software business will be $1.1 billion this year, probably the fastest a G.E. business has hit the $1 billion mark.

The company did it entirely with sensor-equipped G.E. machines, including 1.4 million pieces of medical equipment and 28,000 jet engines. All in, the company said, each day it now gathers 50 million pieces of data from 10 million sensors, off equipment worth $1 trillion.

Next year, G.E. plans to connect this big data product, called Predix, to machines made by other companies. It is also establishing a means for companies to build and deploy their own customized software applications on Predix. Part of that approach involves using G.E.’s own modeling software, which helps a customer understand ahead of time whether making the software is justified by anticipated cost savings.

If successful, the GE analysis platform will likely touch tens of millions of devices around the globe. Already, Cisco has agreed to put Predix software inside its networking products, starting with a specialized computer router for harsh environments like oil fields. Intel has developed a reference architecture that integrates Intel processors with the GE software.

Softbank, Verizon and Vodaphone have agreed to provide means of wireless connectivity to devices with the software. GE already has a deal like that with AT&T, which means the system could be used across much of the globe.

In a release announcing the deals, Mr. Immelt said that “Our offerings will increase G.E.’s services margins and boost organic industrial growth, with the potential to drive as much as $20 billion in annual savings across our industries.”

“The world cannot go on managing in a large-scale fashion using old technology practices,” said Bill Ruh, vice president of G.E. software. “This enables people to put more intelligence in their machines, and do real-time control of their equipment.”

PhotoG.E. said that each day it now gathers 50 million pieces of data from 10 million sensors, including those hooked up to jet engines.G.E. said that each day it now gathers 50 million pieces of data from 10 million sensors, including those hooked up to jet engines.Credit Matt Sullivan/Reuters

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