TechHub: GE CEO on Digital Partners, Using Data You’re Already Collecting & More

GE CEO John Flannery: ‘Partners Are The Key Pillar Of Our Digital Strategy’

Originally published in CRN

Minds + Machines 2017 took place this week in San Francisco, revealing a ton of new digital software solutions to the world.

GE CEO John Flannery, while speaking to a crowd of systems integrators, resellers and ISVs, said that the Boston-based company wants to help customers work through an IT skills gap as they connect their machines, said CRN.

“Partners are the key pillar of our digital strategy going forward,” he said. “We’ll prioritize the market in two areas, with resources to focus heavily in verticals … like oil and gas, transportation, and mining … and we’ll continue to work to address adjacent markets as well, largely through our partners.”

According to a GE survey released on Tuesday, only 13 percent of executives have a mature digital industrial transformation plan in place. The rest of the industrial market customers are facing a critical skills shortage as they struggle to figure out how to tap into IT tools and drive value from their operations.

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GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie giving a media interview during Minds + Machines.

That’s where partners come in, said Flannery: “Bridging this gap starts with small steps, that can help you move in the right direction,” he said. “We are ready and willing to be your partner.”

GE is helping its partners help their customers navigate real-time data, predictive analytics, and IoT through an array of resources, including blueprints, real use cases, and specific technologies.

These technologies include an array of new products and solutions the company has recently released, said Flannery – including Predix Studio, a solution that helps companies build and scale their industrial applications and simplify the development process.

James Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter, a Pittsburgh-based solution provider and GE partner, said that he is seeing that “digital gap” in industrial companies who want a better digital strategy but don’t know where to start.

“That digital gap mirrors what we see when we’re talking to clients and prospects,” he said. “The challenge for customers is their level of knowledge, skills and culture … it’s sort of a perfect storm. More people are prioritizing it as a strategy now as they look ahead.”

Pulling Needles Out of Your Data Haystack

Steps to Use Data You’re Already Collecting

By Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

The Impossible is Now Possible. Industry 4.0 is moving fast and I’d like to let you in on a few very valuable developments about the data you’ve been collecting. It can now help you make better decisions. You can talk to your industrial data and it’s talking back to you, letting you know what’s working inside your operation and what’s not.

It’s exciting for me to see GrayMatter and our partners innovating by taking the data you’ve been collecting through sensors on industrial equipment and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning in the cloud so you can find insights on performance. Then you know exactly where to make improvements.

You need a system to sort through the haystack of data and pull needles out to focus your subject matter experts. That’s what we can do now.

It all starts by framing up the action strategy in three parts.

Step One: Set Your Goals

Start at the end and work backwards.

What return on investment do you want to see? You don’t need all the data you think you need. What information will help you solve the problems you want to solve? What’s the path to getting there? Having this road map first is critical, because otherwise a lot of time and money can be wasted.

Step Two: Start Creating Digital Twins

You hear the term digital twin, but what does it really mean?

Simply put, creating a digital twin is the process of merging physical and digital worlds.

The process takes a physical machine and uses technology to get all the information about past states, present states and predictions. That information creates a digital model that’s alive – taking in a stream of data – using that to adjust so the model is personalized to be a precise representation of the asset.

The software version is used for what used to be a physical inspection – requiring people to be right next to the machine. The virtual version can be done from anywhere and at any time, expanding the value of those inspections and allowing them to have more of a real-time impact. It creates a constant inspection that allows the operators to predict failures sooner.

pulling needles out of data haystack

Digital Twin Value

The digital model of a machine, built and run in a virtual environment used to be available only to the biggest companies with the largest budgets. But the Industrial Internet and an explosion in sensor technology have lowered the cost and broadened the access beyond the elite.

People are not only connected to people, they’re connected to every kind of device at home and now work.

Manufacturers stand to win big from this. Factory floors are outfitted with tremendous amounts of sensors to collect data, but because that data has been locked up it hasn’t provided value.

The digital twin allows us to unlock that data and not just for one asset at a time. We can now model machines in groups – for example, a machine builder with thousands of machines installed across hundreds of customers – will now be able to operate best in class using digital twins.

There’s potential to unleash productivity and efficiencies like we’ve never seen before.

Step Three: Get Behavioral Information from Digital Twins

In order to move to more advanced use cases, such as adaptive diagnostics, condition-based maintenance or predictive failure, Industrial IoT systems need to know more than simply the current device state.

They need to know why. Knowing current device state only helps from a monitoring standpoint. While important, it’s really just the beginning of what we can expect out of IIoT systems. If we know why an asset exhibits a certain state, we can determine what conditions lead to that state and take proactive steps to prevent future occurrences. 

This new layer of getting insight through behavioral information allows you to ask for more. You can search your data and get answers back right away. It’s like an instant messenger for operational technology.

Step Four – Get Digital Twins to Interact

Achieving this may mean digital twins built using multiple discrete machine learning algorithms potentially spread across multiple IoT platforms, not simply relying on one. Eventually, we should expect that digital twins will interact with one another in virtual space.

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Leap Ahead

If you’re short on time, staffing or budget – GrayMatter can get you up and running to achieve value quickly. You know you need an IoT strategy in the near future, but may not know how to go about it. Rather than trying to design, source and build it yourself we can put the strategy in place in days or weeks.

You also don’t have to do everything at once, you can start with a limited selection of assets and scale up or down as you learn performance and asset behaviors.

Our strategy is a Salesforce version of a remote monitoring and diagnostics center that you can buy and implement incrementally.

GrayMatter’s Digital Twin Strategy

We use data, predictive capabilities and machine learning to identify your best and worst performers in each asset group. Your operators are automatically alerted to the worst performers, then they use an intuitive web interface, to turn the worst into the best.

Continuous improvement becomes expected, simplified, and routine.

As your team builds new improvements or optimized settings, they can be scaled out, automatically, to every instance of a specific machine or piece of equipment.

You Don’t Need a Data Scientist

The complex algorithms that can leverage your data are pre-built so anyone can start creating the models and analytics to generate insights. One person no longer holds the keys to data, with this unique platform everyone gets a better understanding of your businesses processes, so you’re not focusing on the math to bring the insight, you’re focusing on creating better outcomes for your customers.

Think Big, Start Fast

You need to think big to truly transform your organization, but you also have to start acting on your data today.

We’re anxious to spread the word about how easy this is and to un-complicate it for you. Let me know if you’d like to discuss further. The case study is also available to read here:

Read the Case Study

New Ransomware Attack on Russia, Ukraine

A new strain of ransomware nicknamed “Bad Rabbit” has affected systems at three Russian websites, an airport in Ukraine and a subway system in Kiev, according to BBC.

However, despite bearing similarities to the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks earlier this year, it’s unknown how far this new malware will spread.

“In some of the companies, the work has been completely paralysed – servers and workstations are encrypted,” head of Russian cyber-security firm Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov, told the TASS news agency.

The Russian Central Bank said in a statement that it had recorded a BadRabbit attack on Russian financial institutions, but none were compromised. BadRabbit had targeted several of the top 20 Russian banks but failed.

A majority of the victims of the attack are located in Russia, with attacks also in Ukraine, Turkey and Germany.

TechHub: GE Looks to Become IIoT Leader, Industrial Job Growth in US & Industrial Cyber Security

GE Relocates To Boston, Looks to Become an IIOT Leader Amid Transformation

General Electric, the largest US industrial company, is going through a transformation. The company has a new CEO at the helm, relocated headquarters to Boston and most importantly is trying to position itself as a manufacturing leader in the digital era, according to Industry Week.

“If we go back in time, say in 2011 to 2012, when as a business, we were facing challenges, Jeff (Immelt, former CEO) realized that unless we leverage software and analytics, true productivity would not be gained,” said Mark Bernardo, GE’s VP of Professional Services, at the company’s temporary new headquarters in Boston on August 30.

Since then, GE has made several strategic business moves to leverage its core competencies: spun off its financial services unit, GE Capital; acquired French company Alstom’s power and grid business; launched GE Digital to bring various software groups such as engineering, product development, and IT under one umbrella, and opened its cloud-based software platform for the Industrial Internet, Predix, to outside developers.

Despite GE’s goal to cut $2B by the end of 2018, “there is no change in long-term strategy as it relates to digital,” said Jeff Erhardt, GE’s VP of Intelligent Systems.

Erhardt said that machine learning, artificial intelligence along with domain expertise will help boost GE’s digital future. And Predix, its own IOT platform, will play a central role in managing complex data. The platform currently has 100 apps – from MRI machines to turbines to jet engines – created by developers, including many from outside, who mine complex industrial data to make the machines perform more safely and efficiently.

GE’s former CEO Jeff Immelt at Minds + Machines 2016 in San Francisco.

Join GrayMatter in October at Minds + Machines, GE’s premier Industrial Internet event dedicated to software, innovation, and the most powerful digital industrial outcomes.

Minds + Machines will bring together the best and the brightest of the technology world, including GE customers, developers, partners, industrial thought leaders and technology innovators.

Learn More

What’s Driving Job Growth in Industrial America?

Manufacturing and mining jobs are up this year after having fallen in 2016, in which 100,000 jobs were lost, according to the New York Times.

Rising commodity prices has resulted in a jump in hiring within the mining sector. After plunging in late 2014 and throughout 2015, energy prices have somewhat recovered. That has helped stabilize employment in the oil industry. Meanwhile, surging prices for metals like gold and copper are spurring activity in the mining industry.

The US dollar dropping throughout 2017 has also played a major role in manufacturing success. As major exporters who are dependent on overseas customers for a big part of their sales, manufacturers often find themselves at the mercy of the dollar.

When the dollar surged in 2016, American-made equipment was effectively more expensive for foreign buyers. This year’s drop, on the other hand, is a boon for manufacturers as well as for big American companies who draw a big portion of their sales from overseas, like Caterpillar and McDonald’s.

Software-defined Industrial Networks Deliver Cyber Security Breakthroughs

Finding a cost-effective cyber security plan for industrial control systems remains a pain point.

Cyber security is often cited as the leading barrier to growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

ARC Advisory Group published a report suggesting two solutions of promising software-defined networking (SDN) technologies, which can improve cyber security in both new and existing industrial control systems.

One: Network Management Through SDN Protocol OpenFlow

OpenFlow is a single protocol that replaces existing routing and access protocols embedded in Ethernet switches, allowing the entire network of switches to be managed from a central SDN controller.

This has typically been used in large enterprise networks, such as Google, and in large data centers to improve performance.

Ukraine power grid

Kiev, Ukraine, was one of the victims hurt the most in multiple malware attacks on the Ukrainian power grid at the end of 2016 and entering into 2017.

This is also applicable to a much smaller industrial network, or part of an industrial network.

Engineers report that the largest advantage of their SDN network is the ability to lock down the substation network and immediately become aware of any unexpected packets entering. This improves the overall security of networks within electric power substations, which have increasingly become high value targets for cyber warfare internationally.

Two: Host Identity Protocol

Host Identity Protocol (HIP) creates and manages a secure identity-based overlay network that serves the automation components while cloaking them from general visibility.

The fundamental idea is to decouple the IP address from packet forwarding rules, instead authorizing and delivering network services based on provable cryptographic identities.

It also delivers a new Host Identity Namespace that is compatible with existing IP and DNS Namespaces, enabling global IP mobility. It allows organizations to overcome IP addressing issues and move an IP resource within and between physical, virtual or cloud networks without having to change the IP or overlay network policies.

Using HIP in place of IP addresses as identity, it allows a secure identity to be established among sets of devices and the IP address continue to serve its purpose as a locator only.

ARC Recommendations

ARC ends the report with recommendations that manufacturers and utilities should develop use cases leading to broader plans for how SDN could improve cyber security, mobility support and remote access services for existing plants, familiarize themselves with the roadmaps of their network infrastructure suppliers to apply to their own use cases, as well as carefully evaluate the current and evolving technologies and their potential impact on cyber security and performance.

 

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