GE embraces big data

October 9, 2014 06:16 AM

General Electric Co. expects to generate more than $1 billion in sales this year from its growing business of helping customers use data collected from industrial equipment.

The world’s biggest maker of jet engines and diesel locomotives now has about 40 analytics products designed to improve efficiency, boost productivity and reduce costs, GE plans to say at an event today in New York. Revenue is up 25% from last year as its order book has swelled to $1.3 billion.

“This market is really nascent. This transformation has only really been occurring in the last two years,” Bill Ruh, vice president of GE’s global software business, said in an interview. “It’s an architectural shift that’s going on for how you manage data and how you do analytics.”

GE is seeing the fruits of a $1 billion investment in the so-called industrial Internet, including opening a global research facility in Silicon Valley staffed by engineers from Oracle Corp. and Symantec Corp. as well as Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt has laid out a vision of a world of smart machines that can diagnose their own problems and find solutions. As companies have embraced big data to improve operations, GE has put resources behind the industrial Internet and now has 10 million sensors analyzing data from the wind turbines, medical-imaging devices and other equipment it has sold.

Enhanced Cybersecurity

The company offers hardware and software to help customers track and utilize information. For instance, AirAsia will save about $10 million in fuel costs this year by using aircraft data to improve flight paths and traffic flow, Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE said in a statement.

GE said it is working to enhance cybersecurity following its acquisition of Wurldtech this year. GE also said it will expand a partnership with Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. to broaden the availability of its analytics software platform. “We’re building out an ecosystem,” Ruh said.

The former Cisco executive joined GE in 2011 to run the newly opened global software center in San Ramon, California. The research facility will have about 1,200 employees by the end of the year, Ruh said, up from 750 last year and above the initial target of 1,100.

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