GE transforming itself into a "digital industrial" company

By Warren Volkmann, Editor
HP Developers Portal

As HP Inc. enters its second full year, the HP Developer Program is working with dozens of business units inside the company as they forge digital strategies that employ open APIs and SDKs.

For a 78-year-old company with a legacy of closed-platform hardware development, hammering out digital strategies is a new challenge. HP has the advantage that printing went digital almost three decades ago, and 3D printing is digital from inception. Nevertheless the consideration for each HP business is how to introduce cloud APIs and SDKs in ways that make sense technically and financially.

HP in good company

As the editor for the HP Developers Portal, I am always scouting for other companies that are reinventing themselves. I have begun following GE in its self-proclaimed transformation into a “digital industrial” giant.

GE – formerly named General Electric – has 124 years of closed-hardware-platform tradition. The company was started by Thomas Edison with his light bulb and hundreds of patents. Today GE has graduated from consumer products (they sold their appliance division to Chinese manufacturer Haier in June 2016), to train locomotives, jet engines, and medical scanners. GE’s stated goal is to transform itself into a Big Data digital player.

While most CEOs talk about the "Internet of Things," GE's CEO Jeff Immelt talks about the “Internet of Really Big Things.” By 2020, Immelt wants to see GE pushing 100 terabytes of data a day through its open source Predix platform, which is essentially an operating system for big industrial machines.

Parallel universes

For HP and GE, the products may be different but the underlying platform goals are similar. Both companies recognize the emergence of cloud APIs and Big Data for most new hardware products and technologies.

To catch up on the GE story, I recommend two articles:

The Businessweek article is accompanied by a video interview of writer Devin Leonard (at the 4 minute mark).

What companies are you following in their digital transformation? Login to the HP Developers Portal and share your perspectives.