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Industrial Internet can't succeed without big data and cloud, GE Says

Brian Eastwood | April 11, 2014
Hear the phrases 'Industrial Internet' or 'Internet of Things' and you probably think of billions of connected devices. That's all well and good, but without the computing power to assess all the data coming from these devices, GE suggests that enterprises won't realize the full potential of the industrial Internet.

Take gas turbines. They tend to be efficient as they are, so fomenting improvement requires a "hyper-sophisticated approach," Rogers says, running models with "incredibly complex algorithms." On a laptop, it would take three weeks for a typical query to be answered; distributing the same query among cloud-based processors performs a calculation in a fraction of a second.

In healthcare, meanwhile - where estimates suggest as much as $1 trillion in annual spending in the United States is redundant, unnecessary or fraudulent - Rogers says there are plenty of opportunities. These include inventory management, hospital bed management, talent management and the omnipresence of proprietary platforms that make it difficult for providers and patients to share data.

The industrial Internet often parallels with the consumer Internet, but there's one key difference. The data being shared in consumer-to-consumer interactions — dollars, preferences, names and the like — makes sense to the naked eye, Rogers says.

In industry, on the other hand, data points such as pressure, output and weather are both complex and contextual; the temperature reading on a gas turbine's exhaust means something very different than the internal temperature of a locomotive, Rogers says.

It's a challenge, to be sure, but getting there means using technology that already exists, not waiting for something new. "It's already here," Rogers says. "It's about taking that data and turning it into something meaningful."


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