GE’s “Industrial Internet” is Neither New nor Innovative, but It’s Not a Bad Idea

This week GE went on a PR blitz around the concept of an “Industrial Internet,” or an “Internet of Things.”  The idea is pretty simple: Leverage the power of the cloud to connect machines embedded with sensors and software to other machines and humans.  Thus, we can extract data, find meaning in that data, and make sure other machines or humans have access to that information to carry on other tasks.

The mission is to have the right information in real time so you have the analytical intelligence to self-diagnose and take corrective action.  The end result is that issues are spotted and corrected auto-magically.  Thus, we have better visibility into the true and current state of things, which saves money and creates much better business outcomes.

So, we have a few PR-created items here.  There’s the ability to utter “cloud computing” in a press release, the ability to sell something as “new” when it’s really an old vision, and thus the ability to shine the light of innovation on an existing product line of machines to…well…sell more machines.

Best I can tell from the massive amount of articles and TV appearances, the “Industrial Internet” is based upon a common vision we’ve had since the early 90s.  It comes from the world of application and data integration, where we’ve also promoted the concept that we’re moving to a real-time enterprise and real-time economy where all devices, machines, cars, computers, and humans will be able to instantaneously exchange massive amounts of data, as well as analyze and react to that data in order to optimize the business processes and make life better.

So, this continues to be a good idea, but an old idea.  However, with GE putting a heck of a lot of money behind it, and other companies following, we could begin to see instances where the re-backed vision will finally become a reality.