There is a growing consensus among industry analysts that IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) are becoming the main drivers of the next Industrial Evolution, which will completely transform how manufacturing, supply chain, and services problems are solved.
Industrial Internet of Things
A report by IHS predicts that more than 70 billion devices will be Internet-connectable in 2025. When most people read about IoT, they think of consumer products like mobile devices, home appliances, automobiles and so on. Actually, the majority of the IoT installed base would consist of industrial equipment.
Investment in the Industrial IoT, therefore, is expected to reach US$470 billion by 2020, according to Bain. And all tech and industrial giants want to dominate that market. Among them, the two most prominent players are GE (General Electric) and Siemens. Infographic: GE vs. Siemens
The Trans-Atlantic rivalry is not simply the battle between two of the world’s largest industrial conglomerates. It also pits the American ICT might against the German engineering excellence.
There even is a competition about what the Fourth Industrial Evolution should be called. While the American companies prefer the term Industrial IoT, their German competitors rally around the concept of Industrie 4.0 (Industry 4.0), a term coined the German government.
Read more: Manufacturers adapt to Industry 4.0
Nevertheless, GE and Siemens have become increasingly similar in recent years. Unlike their Japanese competitors, both have divested most of their consumer products business and focused almost entirely on industrial solutions. Today, around 70% of their business overlap with each other, according to JP Morgan.
The digital side of manufacturing
Both companies were founded by great inventors, GE by Thomas Edison and Siemens by Werner von Siemens. And throughout their history, both have made their names by manufacturing state-of-the-art machines, such as jet engines, train locomotives, or factory automation systems. And now, the two giants are gearing up for the next big fight - dominating the digital domain of industrial manufacturing.
Sensors are getting smaller and more affordable, while analytics software is getting more powerful. A jet engine, for example, can have tens or hundreds of sensors that are continuously streaming data. This massive amount of data can be analysed for a host of purposes.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the virtual world – data – is as much important as the physical world – the machines. And the Internet of Things is the where the two worlds meet. And if long-standing industrial companies like GE and Siemens are not moving fast enough, the digital side of manufacturing can be occupied by tech giants like Google or Microsoft.
GE vs. Siemens – which company will prevail in the ultimate battle of Industrial Internet of Things?