GE Digital Exec To IoT Partners: 'Think Hard About Where You Have A Niche And Can Add Value'

As GE Digital deepens its investments in the Internet of Things, the Boston-based company is looking to its partner network of systems integrators and solution providers to use their domain expertise to take IoT solutions from concept to reality.

Mark Bernardo, vice president of global professional services for manufacturing, logistics and emerging markets at GE Digital, said during Wednesday’s IoTConnex virtual conference that ’domain expertise matters here in the industrial space more than any other place.’

’We have a rich network in our [partner] ecosystem to leverage,’ he said. ’There are adjacencies you can help us with. We have a call to action for our partners to figure out how we can complement each other. Customers are looking for people who have done this before and have a specific point of view, especially in the industrial IoT space.’

[Related: IoTConnex Virtual Conference 2017]

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GE Digital’s flagship platform is its Predix cloud, which is designed specifically for industrial data and analytics as a Platform-as-a-Service, enabling operators to use machine data faster and more efficiently.

Bringing Predix to market goes beyond the technology, however, as partners need to leverage their understanding of their customers’ domain markets so that they can actually solve problems in the workplace, said Bernardo.

’If you look at typical engagements with customers in the past, they’d be delivering a [request for proposal] with long sets of requirements, and we’d be looking to deliver those requirements feature for feature. … But customers now realize that real transformation is not in a technology,’ said Bernardo. ’There needs to be a level of business transformation tied to the technology investment. … And that is really hard.’

For instance, partners who have been working for decades with operational technology understand just how difficult it is to upgrade and secure industrial control systems as they become connected to the internet.

’Those assets have been around for a long time and will be around for a long time. The ability to connect and dispose of those assets just isn’t the same. … If you have a security issue … in the industrial world, those problems could be catastrophic,’ said Bernardo.

James Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter, a Pittsburgh-based solution provider specializing in operational technology, said that partnerships in the industrial IoT space are essential to bringing solutions to market.

"GE [Digital] has its own applications, and now there's a whole group of people emerging in a community of developers and solution providers. We've been doing that for a long time already, but there's a bunch of attention coming into that space,’ he said.

Bernardo stressed that partners also will be critical to GE Digital in accessing new markets and customers in the industrial space, executing implementation and spearheading application development.

’This is about collaboration, this is about a way of figuring out how to complement each other through our offerings,’ he said. ’There are going to be adjacent markets where you have expertise and can help us. That’s where I could challenge you to think hard about where you have a niche and can add value … to help up spin this collective wheel faster."