Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, opened the 2014 Middle Market Summit by outlining what GE sees as the big themes of the future and The Industrial Internet was one of them. There’s a general sense sweeping much of the industrial sector that “software is eating the world.” To use Jeff’s words, “every industrial company is going to wake up one day and find itself to be a software and data company.” That’s a pretty monumental statement.
This post is a part of a series on disruptive technology. To see the other posts in the series, jump to the end of the article.
The Internet of Things
We’ve been talking about this concept for years. In fact, I remember over a decade ago futurists predicting that “your refrigerator will be connected to the Internet; when you run out of milk, it’ll just order it and have it delivered.” Big promises a long time ago that haven’t been realized (at least, not in our house; maybe it’s happening somewhere).
But, the pace of connectivity for the objects around us is about to go through a massive explosion. According to Salim Ismael, there are currently 9B devices connected to the Internet. We believe that there will be 1T devices connected within the next 15 years. And, from what I can tell, most companies don’t really know what to do with the data.
Implications on the Professional Services Firm
This is going to create mountains of opportunity for professional services firms.
For A/E Firms
The volume and quality of data coming out of buildings and communities is going to explode. Security and building access systems, HVAC systems, computing networks, lighting and technology systems…you name it, it’s either connected or very soon will be. In the near-term, the ability to interpret and do something with these massive unstructured data sets will be a huge competitive advantage for any firm working on a large capital or infrastructure program.
Think about the A/E firm that walks into a presentation with a data specialist at their side who’s been modeling the data coming out of the client’s facility and has used that data to design a more efficient structure with lower operating costs. How will they change the decision-making conundrum? The firm on the right has all the experience and all the expertise we need for this project. But, the firm on the left has all that plus this incredible analytical insight to boot. The firm on the left is charging 20% more? No big deal, we’ll make it all up over the life of the facility.
It’s not a far stretch to see that 5-10 years from now this will be a required skill set for leading firms to be competitive.
For Consulting Firms
The race is on for the consulting firms that know how to guide companies to understand what data to collect, how to organize it, how to analyze it, and how to deliver it to the right people to enable improved decision-making. This will largely be the domain of content consultants — specialists that focus within defined verticals — because they have specific domain knowledge to advise clients on what data is important and what data to avoid.
Our 5 Part Series on Disruptive Technologies
The inspiration for the series was a handful of speakers (Salim Ismael, Roger McNamee and Jeff Immelt) at the 2014 Middle Market Summit hosted by GE Capital and the National Center for the Middle Market. Here is a list of all 5 articles in this series: