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The titans of heavy industry lean in to artificial intelligence

If you’ve read this blog over the last few months, you know we’ve been focused on artificial intelligence, neural networks and machine learning; and rightfully so — they are the next frontiers of technology, business and the future of commerce. In each of those cases, however, most/all of those use-cases involve computer-based computations (obviously) leading to mostly computer-based outputs. Now, many of these digital outputs produced actionable (and acted upon) intel — AlphaGo specifically used machine learning in order to make Go moves against a human player — but the massive data crunching mostly existed in a digital world.

GE is taking AI to the next, physical level; it could have huge ramifications for how heavy industry operates in the future.

Per Bloomberg: “General Electric Co. is unveiling software for boosting its machines’ productivity and streamlining repairs, alongside deals with Danish shipping line Maersk Corp. and French energy producer Dalkia SA.”

What does this mean? Well, heavy manufacturers are outfitting their machines with data monitors and diagnostic software to better manage, update and upgrade their fleets of machines. Bloomberg continued:

“The software push by GE is part of a broad movement by industrial producers to create factories, energy plants and vehicles that can sense their own performance and surroundings, cut costs or create new businesses based on that data. Competitors including Germany’s Siemens AG, Switzerland’s ABB Ltd. and France’s Schneider Electric have also been adding software and data-analysis capabilities to their machinery.”

It’s not just GE getting in on this trend as Bloomberg noted — many of the big players in these industries are hip to the importance data and the machine learning that data will enable will play in their respective futures. Bill Ruh, the CEO of GE Digital, predicted digitizing industrial operations would constitute a $200 billion market by 2020.

One of the big developments Bloomberg identified is that “GE Ventures, the company’s investment and intellectual property licensing arm, is launching a company called Avitas Systems to combine GE’s Predix platform with data analysis, robotics and AI technology for inspecting machines in the drilling, energy and transportation industries.”

Not content with that, GE is leaning in on all these fronts in a major financial way according to Bloomberg: “GE last year spent $4 billion to develop its analytical software and another $2 billion on industrial 3-D printing acquisitions and development.”

So. Many of the titans of heavy industry are turning to machine learning, artificial intelligence and neural networks to make seriously actionable recommendations based on diagnostic and predictive insights. Manufacturers are investing more and more money into digital ventures within their respective companies as both a way to improve other product lines, as well as to build, market and sell additional service offerings to clients and/or partners.

AI really isn’t just theoretical anymore — some of the biggest, most complex and most important companies in the world are pushing ahead in major ways. These improved efficiencies and entirely new business units could completely shape the heavy industries of the future.

Just another sign AI is not only here to stay, but very well might be the future.



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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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