General Electric outfitted 650 British Petroleum (BP) oil rigs with sensors and software that report operational data to a central GE platform that analyzes it to optimize how the rigs run \u2013 making them 2 to 4% more efficient than before.\n General Electric \nJim Fowler, CIO, General Electric\n\u00a0\n\nGE CIO Jim Fowler credits most of the improvement not with workers, but with machines. \u201cMachines are telling people what to do more than people are telling machines what to do,\u201d Fowler said at a meeting of the Open Networking User Group (ONUG) this week in New York. The sensors and accompanying software platform helped create incremental improvements in production and avoidance of downtime. He calls it the merging of information technology and operational technology to create value.\nIoT efficiencies\nMachines equipped with these advanced systems can self-diagnose problems to speed maintenance and reduce downtime. GE\u2019s Field Vision app uses this approach on GE\u2019s own production lines that manufacture gas turbines and medical-imaging equipment. The manufacturing equipment now reports diagnostic data to a central hub, and if a part on the equipment needs to be replaced, the system automatically starts a supply-chain process to order it.\nFowler calls it the next evolution of enterprise resource planning (ERP): machine resource planning (MRP). When field workers arrives to fix a machine, they already have the needed part and are able to spend the time fixing the problem rather than diagnosing it.\n\u201cAI (Artificial intelligence) is being used to determine 75% of the work scope,\u201d of many repairs he says. \u201cWe know what parts to bring, what skills are needed, we have the full bill of materials, the machine\u2019s plans and past maintenance record.\u201d GE is hoping this could save $2.5 million in productivity costs this year.\nGE is also making this technology available for its customers as part of the GE Digital brand. Goals include better uptime of customers\u2019 systems and higher operational throughput, meaning the machines are producing more of what they were designed to create. \u201cThe idea is to let our customers get more value out of the products they already own from us,\u201d Fowler says. Fowler says it could eventually generate $10 billion in revenue for GE.\nThe cloud plays a big role \nIn addition to using machine-based data to help improve operations, the company is also diving deep into using the public cloud to power many of these projects. GE has built a software platform that acts as the main central hub for much of this innovation named Predix. That runs on both a private cloud that the company hosts, and it also uses public cloud resources, including from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Fowler says his goal is to cap the use of on-premises resources and build any new applications in the public cloud. He noted public cloud is less expensive for GE than the company\u2019s existing infrastructure; although he admitted not all companies will come to that conclusion. Fowler estimates 40% of the company\u2019s infrastructure is in the public cloud, adding: \u201cWe\u2019re going to grow that as far as we can.\u201d\nChanging GE starts from within\nInstituting these practices across GE has not happened overnight, Fowler says, and it\u2019s been part of a broader effort within the company to use software and other emerging technology to aid the business. One key to implementing this strategy, Fowler says, has been breaking down traditional vertical management structures to create more shared horizontal software platforms. The Field Vision app, for example, is used by both the gas turbine and the medical imaging units, whereas in the past those may have been separate groups within the company each working on their own version of a similar resource. Workers are also encouraged to become multi-disciplinary and professional development training is built into workers\u2019 schedules, Fowler says.