Matt Wells, GE Digital PostedMonday, July 9, 2018 Q Share the history of how General Electric began and how the company has evolved in(to) the automation industry. A As you probably know GE began manufacturing light bulbs and has grown to become one of the biggest industrial conglomerates in the world. GE has been involved in the automation industry for many decades, and contrary to common belief, is still firmly involved and this sector, and has plans to keep involved in this sector for years to come. Prove of that are the coming releases of our IFix and Cimplicity SCADA software at the end of this year and the release of Web HMI and Workflow business management software this summer. Q Do you specialize in any industry, product, or discipline? A GE’s automation software is used on many industries and verticals in the market: from Pharma to oil production. With an install base of over 18000 customers we have proven our products have what it takes to produce results. Q Tell us about your SI Partner Program. A Our SI Partner Program is called Solution Provider Program. It has been around for many years and includes over 1300 partners. It focuses on enabling SIs to get training on GE software, get access to development licenses for solution development, get discounts when selling our software and, more importantly, in recognizing a particular SI is a partner with GE. In general, the program is all about enabling SIs to know GE software and become experts on it so they can provide the solution end-customers require. Q Why did General Electric become a member of CSIA? A GE has been a CSIA member for a long time. The need to closely interact with our SIs is a must. CSIA allows multiple paths to do so: through their Exchange, yearly conference, participation in forums and groups, etc. So being part of the CSIA community was a no brainer for us. Q What is the biggest benefit of CSIA membership for General Electric? A The biggest benefit of our CSIA membership is to be able to reach out to all member SIs though one single platform. It also helps us know and understand the type of queries and problems SIs are having. We can take that information and figure out solutions which we can incorporate in our Automation software. Q What kinds of trends and challenges are you seeing in industrial automation right now? A There is a demand on existing operators to know more and more about the systems they operate. That is why GE is focused on creating tools that allow these operators to troubleshoot abnormal conditions without the need of a ton of support staff. Model-based navigation and Card-based layouts are good examples of this. Q In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the automation marketplace today and in the future? A The Internet of Things (IOT) can become a game-changer in our industry. Trying to leverage IOT in the automation space has become a challenging exercise, though. Most automation people struggle with the idea of exposing the information in their closed network to the internet. This notion seems to be changing though. Air-gap network security is not as safe as first thought. As these networks are updated to enhance their security or open up to new security paradigms, leveraging the cloud becomes an option. Thus, leveraging the IOT becomes an option too. Q How has General Electric grown or changed in the past year and what do you expect for your company in the near future? A The GE Automation software group has grown less focused on producing cloud-only solutions. It has become evident that not all automation data or actions belong on the cloud, there is need for on-premise software to execute automation. We are currently heavily focused on creating hybrid-cloud solutions. We want to leverage the IOT to create applications which can support people working on the plant. As an example, our HMI SCADA software (iFix or Cimplicity) have the ability to create graphic that can be, easily, published to the cloud. This allows for mirrored information running on-premise and on the cloud. Why is this relevant? So, plant experts can more easily provide remote support. This is a clear example of how GE tools allow these operators to troubleshoot abnormal conditions without the need of a ton of support staff. Q What challenges are your customers facing now? A Understanding and leveraging IOT. Customers don’t necessarily know how to leverage all the data their plants produce. Analytics processed on the cloud can definitely help them with this.