TechHub: Digital Industrial Transformations, Cyber Security Strategy & More

Digital Transformations: Linear and Exponential

This week Forbes takes a look at two distinct types of digital disruption.

Two very different pictures are emerging in transformation stories. Forbes defines linear transformation as transformation within the business that improves operations, whereas exponential transformation transforms the business itself— potentially changing the core business model of the organization.

Linear is like an upgrade— helping companies do what they do better with new technology. Exponential shifts the whole business model of the company— finding new ways to give customers value.

They are both important. So, which one are you?

At the end of the article, Forbes concludes that linear isn’t enough because investors don’t reward it.

“The pace of technological innovation is increasing at a speed that necessitates exponential transformation,” according to Forbes.

One piece of advice from Forbes is to handle linear and exponential change separately. Keeping linear along the lines of project management and exponential in its own silo, away from political or turf wars.

The first step in both types of change is to get started.

Gray Matter’s Director of Professional Services John Benitz has led teams through the Brilliant Manufacturing process, and now he can help you.

Gray Matter is offering an exclusive webinar, where we’re demystifying the beginning of the journey for you.

Highlights from the webinar will include:

  • How to create a transformation vision
  • The critical first three data questions
  • Biggest mistakes companies make in the beginning
  • How the GE Transportation Brilliant Manufacturing project started
  • What phase two looks like

Join us for the first part in our webinar series, “Transform Your Operation: Vision before Action,” on April 6 at 2:30pm EST.

Register for the Webinar

Digital Day in Chicago: Start Your Digital Journey

On April 10, join Gray Matter and GE Digital to learn how the Industrial Internet of Things can unlock new possibilities for your company. Learn from companies like Johnson & Johnson about the road to digital, industrial transformation.

Vice President of Product Supply Strategy and Deployment Bart Alfons Talloen develops and deploys new and innovative processes at Johnson and Johnson.

He’ll be talking about systems and technologies to improve production supply during GE Digital Day. You’ll also learn what drives J&J to take action, their vision for Manufacturing of the Future and the challenges that need to be addressed to move forward.

The event will also highlight:

  • Learning the value of the digital industrial transformation
  • Connecting with industry thought leaders and peers
  • Discovering tools to accelerate your transformation journey
Learn More

GE Signs Plans for First Cyber Security Solution and Largest Gas Power Plant in Latin America

GE Power has signed a multiyear agreement for a new combined-cycle power plant in northeastern Brazil, which will meet 15 percent of the energy needs of northeastern Brazil, making it Latin America’s largest gas power plant.

The agreement will include operations, maintenance, repairs, digital solutions and the first order in Latin America for its OpShield cybersecurity solution.

Opshield is a security solution provided by WurldTech, a GE company, for industrial and process control environments. It is designed to help protect critical infrastructure and controls networks, and has the ability to inspect operational technology packets and data flows. This allows for a deep protocol inspection and more control for operators.

Wurldtech provides products, such as OpShield, and services that help customers design, test, certify, and secure their internet-connected devices, ICS and other critical controls, as well as their site operations.  Fortune 500 customers rely on Wurldtech to protect their brand reputation in oil & gas, transportation, utilities, healthcare and many other industries.

digital transformations

TechHub: Leading a Digital, Industrial Era and Cyber Security as a National Priority

GE’s 2016 Report and the industry potential for 2017 and onward

This week GE Digital released its 2016 Annual Report, highlighting details such as an 83-percent increase in GE cash from operating activities, amounting to $30 Billion, as well as an increase by 4-percent in Industrial Segment Revenues, amounting to over $113 Billion.

Other components to the report are a look into building jet engines, a letter to shareholders, testing a giant gas turbine and more.

The report featured a 3D interactive video, explaining additive manufacturing and the new technologies that help design 3D-printed products.

It allows you to explore pictures of the assembly of the largest jet engine designed for commercial use, as well as the most fuel-efficient one produced by GE.

3D-printed fuel nozzles and fan blades, electron beam melting and more are explored through this interactive demonstration of innovative and futuristic manufacturing in the “Factory of Tomorrow.”

Playing by the (cyber) rules

This week a new set of rules went into effect in New York requiring companies to put cyber defenses in place. It’s just the start of what will be a new era of rules and regulations about cyber security for industries. While this week’s rules are just for New York, they will have a big impact on companies outside of the state.

What are the rules?

Companies in the finance industry are now required to have a cyber-security plan in place.  According to Fortune, this includes network penetration testing, cyber audit trails and restricting access to customer data.  Firms will also need a senior security officer whose job is to submit an annual compliance certificate.

“The days of saying,’I have a great IT guy’ are now over,” said an accounting firm executive during the Fortune interview. Cyber security has become a boardroom issue.  

Who are the rules for?

The companies who need to comply are banking, insurance, or brokerage firms that use licenses to operate in New York. Fortune also reports it’s important to note the rules will affect third-party vendors.


The regulations don’t affect operational technology companies at this time, but the same scenario is playing out in the OT space. Cyber is no longer a technology issue, it’s an enterprise issue. We’ll keep you posted as the regulations grow.

Governors declare cyber security a national emergency, state emergency

“Cyber security is critical to each and every governor.”

Those were the words of Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the National Governors Association, at the four-day-long meeting in Washington D.C. as he urged fellow governors to take cyber threat precautions and increase their states’ defenses.

Noting that his own state faced 86 million cyber attacks in 2016, according to The Hill, the Virginia governor said that cybersecurity is both a national and state issue.

The association has made cyber security a recent priority, holding its first regional summit on cyber security in October and setting up a cyber center to aid states with securing infrastructure.

McAuliffe noted there is still a drastic need of a strategic plan on how to tackle cyber security within states, as well as improving critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Learn how to create faster time to OT security and how to multiply your cyber team in the free webinar: Accelerate Time to OT protection on March 16.

Register for the Webinar

New computing system made from blockchain is less vulnerable to cyber attacks

This week, several corporate giants announced joining forces to create a new computing system based on the virtual currency network Ethereum.

Similar to Bitcoin, the technology platform will run on a custom-built blockchain, a very powerful shared global infrastructure that can help developers create markets, store registries of debts, move funds and more.

One notable aspect of the platform is the ability to create a tradeable digital token used as online currency that can either be set to a fixed amount or fluctuate depending on the programming, according to Ethereum, the Swiss nonprofit organization. The virtual currency is known as Ether within the network.

It can run smart contracts. It enables applications to run exactly as programmed without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

This is good news for cyber security experts.

According to the New York Times, the technology is reported as being harder to hack.

By adapting blockchain technology into their business models, large businesses are able to safely keep track of information such as stock and bond trading transactions.

The creation of the alliance shows the push forward among big companies to integrate technology into business plans and create streamlined databases with less back-office maintenance.

TechHub: Realizing the Digital Enterprise at ARC Forum, 3D Printing and More

Industry 4.0: Realizing the Digital Enterprise

This week, leaders in the industrial enterprise— such as Gray Matter VP, Kemell Kassim– met together at the 21st Annual ARC Advisory Forum in Orlando, Florida.

The industry forum featured the latest, most innovative technologies in the digitalization process and convergence of operational and informational technology within plants.

More companies are transitioning to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) products and solutions, and reaping the benefits of real-time data analysis, critical asset management, optimizing performance, minimal downtime and cyber security that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Cyber security is a hot topic at this year’s ARC Forum—specifically, security for industrial environments.

“There are a lot of great solutions out there, but we saw that customers could use help with their strategy and getting the most out of their cyber investments,” said Kemell. Find out more about our cyber offerings here.

Cyber Predictions for the Industrial Sector in 2017

Cyber threats have become a top priority in the industrial sector.

2017 is shaping up to be the year that legislation cracks down on cyber security as a global effort to secure networks, particularly industry and utility networks, and fight international cyber espionage and crime.

According to Forbes, national borders for data and cyber security regulation will be a hot item on the global political agenda.

With continued innovation from malware developers, it’s predicted to develop into multi-faceted functionality and focus on mobile devices.

That means two things: cybercriminals will be able to bypass two-factor authentication via text message and they will continue to try to develop infectious apps in an effort to monetize stolen credit card data.

Ransomware is expected to be a continued threat within the industrial and corporate worlds, as cyber security is mitigating the huge hits from 2016 with anti-ransomware and decryption tools being made readily available.

3D Printing Unlocks New Potential for Production

Much of the imminent future will be filled with artificial intelligence, big data and development in machine operation and production.

3D Printing

The finished product of a 3-D printed CATA gear. Image credit: GE Reports/Chris New

Included in that world is 3D printing, which plays a dominant role in the future of production, manufacturing and automation.

According to Forbes, 3D printing is the process of creating products of typically plastic or metal by laser technology from a template, building up the product in layers until it’s finished.

In the industry, the potential from this is huge.

It unlocks the ability to create lightweight products such as aircraft, cars and filtration devices, as well as build concrete structures more than 50% faster than conventional methods allow, according to Forbes.

GE Digital is currently exploring this new technology at their Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA), which opened in Pittsburgh in April, 2016.

Calling it the “latest twist on manufacturing,” GE is exploring the options it offers through printing parts for jet engines with GE Aviation, as well as valves for GE Oil & Gas.

3D Printing

PolyJet printers can print from as many as four polymers at once. Their combination can produce soft as well as hard parts and hundreds of different colors. Image credit: GE Reports/Chris New

Currently, a huge focus for the company lies within their “industrialization lab,” which allows for GE businesses to bring in their 3D designs and work to find a solution to speed up the process from lab to production, according to GE Reports.

“This is a huge breakthrough for rapid prototyping,” Dave Miller, an engineer at CATA says in GE Reports. “You’d normally spend many thousands of dollars and many weeks to achieve the same results. With this 3D printer you are cutting down costs and also your lead time.”

What Pokémon Go Taught Me About Augmented Reality for Industrial Environments

Gone are the days of playing a Game Boy by streetlight on family car trips. Today’s budding gamers will never know the struggle of frantically searching for new AA batteries to play the newest game, just bought with carefully saved allowances and chore money.

In fact, with Nintendo’s newest advancement in gaming technology, mothers everywhere will soon be pushing their kids to “go outside and play videogames.” I am, of course, referring to the gaming company’s newest fad, Pokémon Go, which has taken seasoned and new gamers alike by storm.

The game relies on augmented reality, or AR, a sect of technology that employs the physical world as a base for overlaid, digital images. This contrasts with the related, but distinctly different, virtual reality, or VR. While the latter endeavors to build an entirely new platform on which to present information, AR relies on real-world objects for display surfaces.

The distinction between the two is the difference between the Oculus Rift and Google Glass, two of the leading breakthroughs in VR and AR technology. Microsoft’s Oculus Rift, the vision-encompassing headset, is tasked with creating an alternative universe while Google Glass overlays images onto the user’s surrounding world.Pokemonscreenshot

By taking the interaction out of the computer screen and into reality, AR creates a borderline seamless integration of digital technology into everyday life and basic activities, from cooking and doing taxes to, well, gaming.

Pokémon Go, however, represents more than just a technological advance applicable to those who “gotta catch ‘em all!”

In a recent article from GE Reports, Marco Annunziata, Chief Economist and Executive Director of Global Market Insight at GE, surmises the gaming application’s role concerning how we think about big data and the industry.

“The new app is a turning point, leveraging advances in computing power, big data and geo-location software to change the way we perceive and experience the world,” said Annunziata. “[It’s] literally a game-changer.”

The combination of real-time data collection and analysis is both the reality of current technological innovation, and the future of industry.

While companies have increasingly turned to virtual reality technology like Google Glass to better streamline their processes, AR is still in the formative stage.

The potential, however, is there. Take GE’s example of repairing a jet engine.

To understand the complicated mechanisms, you could lug around several hard copies of field service manuals. But what if you could simply grab your tablet or headset, point its camera at the equipment, and view the internal guts of the machine?

Imagine using a wearable device that guides you throughout the repair process, reacting to your voice prompts while simultaneously analyzing the situation. This is what GE reports it’s like:

“No matter how smart and experienced you are, you will never have all the technical details in your head,” said Annunziata.

With AR, however, that is exactly what’s occurring. Or, rather, innovation is generating this century’s newest thinking cap – one with all the information a technician, analyst, or manager could ever think to ask for.

We can even use VR to digitally reproduce the workflow of an entire factory.

“Using data from existing factories, we can experiment with alternative configurations, simulate the impact of technical failures or changing market conditions like a spike in demand,” said Annunziata. “VR allows us to see how the workflow responds, spot unforeseen problems, identify ways in which the production process can be made safer and more efficient.”

As with technological monuments in the past, the potential for AR is curbed only by the reaches of human ingenuity. During the first stages of its development, augmented and virtual reality have already been used to study agronomics, visualize design processes and increase training efficiency.

Of the many applications for VR and AR, the technology’s ability to collect, analyze and react to information marks it as the newest device in consumer business. From collecting crop data and recreating targeted agricultural areas, to projecting medical diagrams for doctors and patients alike, the digital tool is revolutionizing the ways in which we gather and share information.

Perhaps the most remarkable benefit of the advancement is its remote control capability.

Used in conjunction with powerful software, the connection of devices allows for control far from the device’s physical location. This linking of technology, also known as the Internet of Things, means the time needed to relay information between devices is near negligible. The information is all there. You simply have to ask.

Just remember that the kids (or college students) running around your neighborhood yelling about Squirtles and Bulbasaurs represent merely the tip of the iceberg. As companies embrace the digital age with open arms, technological advances and human ingenuity are creating an industrial evolution. In this brave new world of hologram-creating headsets and apps, the realized and future potential exceeds the current use by those who “wanna be the very best, like no one ever was.”

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