General Electric seeks Israeli edge

GE is scouting Israel for talent, technology and, of course, start-ups as it sets its sights on “industrial Internet.”

general electric370 (photo credit: Courtesy GE Israel )
general electric370
(photo credit: Courtesy GE Israel )
General Electric (GE), one of the world’s largest companies, is scouting Israel for talent, technology and, of course, start-ups as it sets its sights on what it calls “industrial Internet.”
“We’re trying to create a start-up within a big company, a group to innovate and identify the kinds of things we might build to take things out globally,” vice president of GE’s software and analytics center William Ruh told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. “I’ve been here for two days and I’m enormously impressed both with the venture-capital firms we’ve met with as well as the start-ups, and I fully expect that in the coming months we’ll be able to talk to you about some interesting things.”
According to Ruh, the world of industry is on the brink of an Internet revolution that will transform it in much the way Internet has transformed the world of retail, music and social networking. Industries from rail to aviation are moving from “unintelligent” machines to “brilliant” machines, which are able to harness massive efficiencies by taking in real-time information and adjust accordingly, he said.
“We think that’s a trillion dollar opportunity,” Ruh said.
In rail, a 1 percent improvement in efficiency can save $27 billion, he said.
New, wired infrastructure offers countless opportunities to find those kinds of improvements, Ruh said.
And that’s where Israel comes in.
To wring out inefficiencies, GE needs software to gather, process and analyze huge amounts of data that will go into its systems. Then it needs to safeguard those systems from outside interference.
“This is probably the best place in the world to do cyber security,” Ruh said. With very real threats from foreign governments and terrorist groups, “only the companies that take cyber security seriously and have products that support them are going to be credible.”
Using space left empty from a spate of recent layoffs in its health-care operations in Herzliya, GE has assembled a team of seven people to, first and foremost, hire Israeli minds for its operations.
“It’s a talent game,” Ruh said. “You’ve got to go where there’s talent because these are really hard problems to solve.”
Beyond that, he also sees GE working with start-ups and technology firms to develop the technologies it will need.
“I’ve just been amazed by how inventive these start-ups are and how they develop mind-blowing technology,” Ruh said. “I came here not knowing what to expect, and I walk away knowing this is the place I’ve got to be.”

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