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GE: Third Place Is No Place to Be in IoT

By Carl Ford November 13, 2017

John Flannery, the new CEO of GE, has a bit of a mess on his hands. The departure of Jeff Immelt came at a time when many of the company’s ventures were not performing up to the standards of GE’s history.

Under Jack Welch, the rule was: GE would sell off whatever asset was not keeping it in the role of leadership. If the company was number 1, the question was how to keep that position. If GE was second best, what did they need to add to make them numero uno. Anything else was probably not worth the effort and the dollars would be better spent on retaining position in other industries.

That was the philosophy.

The problem that Immelt faced and Flannery now faces is that industry has become less fungible. Digital Transformation has created new business models and upcoming “just in time” sales and service that involve IoT, block chain and better analytics will not directly translate into a position.

We are seeing this with companies like Accenture, IBM, Intel and others, where the term IoT is creeping into everything but does not make for a simple single business practice.

As I talk to many people in the industry, they try to break out of the pack by pointing to a specific vertical, and in some cases they are correct that they have gained prominence with a specific implementation. On the other hand, when I talk to systems integrators, I find they have great dexterity and can implement solutions across many verticals.

So back to John Flannery’s issue.

He has declared he wants to refocus GE on Healthcare, Power and Aviation. All of these are perfect for Predix to enhance, improve and transform. However, if Predix is a platform that is measured by itself, I am not sure it will make the mark. Sometimes assets are better hidden behind the scenes then called out for competitors to replicate.

As the company that started the Industrial Internet trend, I believe GE is ahead of the rest of the industry in many ways, but a shuffle at the management level can cause a company to lose sight of its greatest assets. I hope to see GE maintain its advantage and not lose its position in a market that is nascent.




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Partner, Crossfire Media

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