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John Findley Blog

John Findley is a China specialist having lived, off and on, in China for around 30 years. He now lives in Newcastle. He is a highly experienced senior executive and now runs his own migration business (a genuine independent contractor) supporting high-end executives to work in Australia.

Mind expansion: Industrial internet

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

GE has produced an exciting view of the future of uses of the internet and computing: "The Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines".

To me, as an engineer, this is an exciting view of productivity growth.  However, as a small business operator it raises more questions about how we (SMEs) can participate in the bounty and benefits of computing and the internet. The GE paper focuses on big business.

It is interesting that GE identifies productivity gains in the order of 1-1.5% (whether that figure was a target or a discussion point is not clear);  such a rate of productivity gain is small and imperceptible in an SME.  It is possible that SMEs are already incorporating gains but failing to recognise them.  This is entirely likely to be happening in a widespread manner as SMEs don't have convenient productivity measurement tools.
 
The report takes me back to my long standing questions:
  • How does the SME identify productivity enhancement opportunities and incorporate them into its operations?
  • Will the productivity gains be made through intermittent, big steps, or through frequent small gains?
  • Will labour inflexibility choke attempts to innovate and introduce efficiencies?
  • Will the costs of data collection by SMEs be prohibitive?
  • Will SMEs be able to figure a profitable path for connecting which devices to collect which data, and then display the data in a format that facilitates a productivity gain?
Some extracts from the GE paper shows the focus on big enterprise (no criticism of GE as that's where their business is):
 
Companies have been applying Internet-based technologies to industrial applications as they have become available over the last decade. However, we currently stand far below the possibility frontier: the full potential of Internet-based digital technology has yet to be fully realized across the global industry system. Intelligent devices, intelligent systems, and intelligent decisioning represent the primary ways in which the physical world of machines, facilities, fleets and networks can more deeply merge with the connectivity, big data and analytics of the digital world.
 
Intelligent Devices
Providing digital instrumentation to industrial machines is the first step in the Industrial Internet Revolution.
  • Costs of deployment;
  • Computing power;
  • Advanced Analytics: Advances in “big data” software tools and analytic techniques provide the means to understand the massive quantities of data that are generated by intelligent devices.
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