GE Channel Chief Guy Taylor Talks 2017 Industrial IoT Partner Opportunities

GE's Industrial IoT Channel Play

Over the past year, GE has invested heavily in building out its IoT business and ramping up its channel efforts.

But in 2017, GE wants to truly make a name for itself as a leader in the Industrial IoT market – especially through its channel program, according to GE Digital Global Head of Channel and Alliances Guy Taylor.

Partners can take advantage of GE's IoT platform, 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.

Here's what Taylor has to say about GE's channel strategy and Industrial IoT efforts in the coming year.

How has your channel changed over the past year?

From day one within GE Digital, we formed the channels and alliances organization in 2016, that organization was ramped up big time, and we began to enroll and formalize arrangements with lots of different partners. As we go into 2017, the strategy now is to start to mobilize that partner network.

What is GE's traditional channel for traditional resellers?

Regarding our traditional channel partners – resellers – so many of these organizations may have been partners of ours for a decade or more, and these guys have been traditionally selling GE industrial legacy software, which is premises based. We're working with those guys to expand their breadth and capabilities to sell that broader suite, including the newer category of Predix-based solutions.

Where do system integrators fit with GE's IoT strategy?

In terms of driving business, we see that the system integration (SI) partner network will be core to joint selling and joint go-to-market.

The big focus with SIs is that – whether they happen to be classic existing GE business targets like oil and gas companies, or whether we're talking about the newer verticals we're going after within GE Digital such as consumer goods – these organizations have a large footprint and executive relationships. They've got strong relationships with IT, and they help the customers we're targeting identify what they need to be doing, and what the relative priorities are. They're really jumping on in a big way, because IoT – or more specifically industrial IoT and the industrial internet- is getting to be the next big wave.

What role do your vendor partners have in driving growth for GE Predix sales?

I'll also touch on the technology partners – this in itself is a big category. It includes organizations like Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Intel – these organizations may work with us to co-sell, collaborate and bring solutions to market, but in lots of cases, we're starting to collaborate with these partners in integrating our technologies. So if they're a hardware manufacturer, our big focus is to start making sure Predix becomes embedded in solutions we're bringing to market, from edge devices all the way up to the cloud. Technology partners play a really big role there.

What is the role of ISVs in your overall channel strategy?

We launched the [new] ISV program officially at Minds and Machines in November last year, and we're wrapping it up very aggressively this year.

We want to have a broad suite of software solutions – they could be broad applications domains or very targeted functionality – that complements what we're doing with Predix. Our core products really are Predix, including asset performance management, manufacturing, and cybersecurity solutions. So ISVs ideally will plug in and complement those.

What role do telecom companies play in GE's IoT strategy?

We have a number of very large telco partners – typically regional organizations like an AT&T and Verizon. We are forming relationships with those organizations for a couple of reasons. Typically though, to ensure in the areas we want to go to market, we have partners who can help us deliver the right connectivity.

What opportunities are there in the channel around IoT?

IoT is a very broad term, you could argue that even some of our legacy solutions that are starting to collect data, even if they're premises-based instead of cloud-based, are still connected.

I think there's clearly opportunities for every partner category as we start defining this whole new domain and continue to build out the Predix-based solutions. The most recent version of Predix came out a year ago, so we're starting to build out a whole new domain.

Which of these channel partners do you see as being the most interested in IoT?

With the SIs, one thing I've been impressed with is I haven't seen this level of interest and enthusiasm for a long time.

I think if you go back to the early stages of the internet and what would happen with the web, and then go into enterprise cloud computing that accelerated very quickly – these sorts of changes, because they're all web enabled and supported by agile technology that can be deployed very rapidly – the ramp up is incredibly fast. Organizations used to say we'll wait and see, and then maybe we'll be fast followers- but it's getting harder and harder to do that. The organizations that invested early are still dominant, and in the next wave of digitization across industrial, whether its wind farms or power generation plants, there's a view it could happen very quickly. A lot of organizations we're dealing with – especially global SIs – are investing early on, and are keen to be seen as big players in the Industrial IoT space.

What's one example of a specific IoT use case you're deploying?

One would be asset performance management. Assets can vary from incredibly expensive assets like a jet engine, all the way down to a cheap asset like a water pump that cools a drill in a liquid natural gas drill.

One organization we work with has a large number of liquid natural gas wells, and one of their biggest issues has been that the oil pumps that keep the drill for the well cool, will occasionally break down. So if that happens the whole thing overheats, and then it shuts down, and it creates big issues. In general, downtime is something we're trying to eliminate or reduce through active monitoring of assets. In this case, its low-cost water pumps keeping the drill bit cool, and is essentially deploying sensors into this equipment feeding the data back in the Predix space analytics platform, to identify when unusual situations start to occur, and then proactively going in and resolving an issue before it happens.

Would advice do you have to partners interested in doubling down on IoT?

If you're a channel organization interested in engaging in this space, and you're not already involved – a lot would depend on what the core business is that you have today, whether it's more services, software development or apps.

The best thing they can do is to learn more about what we have and what we're doing. The first thing I'd suggest if you really connect to our partner program, the GE Digital Alliance program. There's a lot of great information available for general public, and for organizations who want to learn more, based on their category, they can sign up and become partners fairly quickly.

In 2017, do you have any goals around GE's channel program as a whole?

In 2016, we were focused on getting the partners enrolled and mobilized, educated on what we have. 2017 is all about driving mutual business and really getting some significant wins on the board – working with customers to deliver real value. It's all about execution this year. Our partners are investing to learn more about the platform, to develop applications.