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Digital transformation at the core of GE Ventures strategy

In an interview with Enterprise IoT Insights conducts at the TC3 Summit in Mountain View, Calif., Abhishek Shukla, Managing Director, Software Investments​ ​for G​E Ventures, explained the company’s approach to investing in digital transformation.

“What I look at is specifically all infrastructure needs for GE and GE Ventures,” Shukla explained. That covers a wide range of technology including cybersecurity, cloud infrastructure, the company’s Predix industrial IoT platform, edge and cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more. “Overall, things which get used throughout GE.”

He said the larger goal is “digital transformation and more so business outcomes. We are in the business, with our customers, to make their life easier, better, safer and faster. It’s great to have an IoT platform, it’s great to connect assets, but people, customers, are only interested if that improves their life.”

Shukla explained that the process starts by identifying “what problem are you trying to solve? Essentially, for example, if you take a windmill, a wind farm operator, they are trying to increase the efficiency of how much power they can generate. Can I really help them with that. Can I help the airline companies work with their jet engines more efficiently? They are not in the business of maintaining or owning jet engines. They are in the business of moving people. The commonality in all of this is the business outcome.”

He also discussed how the proliferation of data from the IoT brings to light the balance between cloud and edge computing.

“Once you’ve connected those assets, there’s a lot of data coming in. The problem then is how do I analyze a lot of this streaming data, how do I tag it, how do I map it, just to make sure it’s useful?” He said you can’t grab data, put it into a pool and expect magic to happen.

Watch the video interview with Shukla.

“Our philosophy has been for many years, cloud is great, but not all my customers want to move data onto the cloud.” With something like an aircraft in flight, connectivity needs would make that not feasible. “That drives what happens to all that data. Putting sensors all over the place is not as, it’s a reasonably cost effective job these days. What do you do with all that data? That’s when the edge becomes very important.”

He broke that down into two points: transport and security. “When I grab all this data coming from a jet engine, how much of that data can I pipe back to Amazon cloud? Well, that’s going to run me huge, millions of dollars worth of bills. The other thing is, if I have to take an action on that, I can’t do that immediately What that means is a lot of those actions need to be local. The second piece of this edge has been, connectivity, connecting all these assets will happen.  All these things are connected and are available to you and me physically. Therein lies the danger of someone hacking into the system. It’s not a question of if this will ever get hacked, it’s a question of when will it get hacked. In this scenario, imagine an aircraft…any of these critical assets have a hacking issue, that’s the outcome. You are dealing with lives.  Security, we are paramount about security at the edge.”



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