There’s more to General Electric (GE) than people might think. Founded in 1890 by Thomas Edison, the company has moved beyond providing electricity and light bulbs. As my conversation with Steve Pavlovsky will reveal, GE continues to move forward and adapt with changing times in ways that Edison would likely approve of.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Steve. Let’s start with your personal background and the organization within GE, GE Intelligent Platforms, that you’re part of.
Steve Pavlovsky: I’d be happy to. I’m the product general manager for the control and communications systems business within GE Intelligent Platforms. GE Intelligent Platforms is an element within GE that is focused on industrial computing control, software and analytics. The control and communications systems business in particular is focused on building control equipment that delivers high-performance control for a connected world. What we mean by that is we build high-performance controllers that our customer base deploys in a variety of applications to control a variety of industrial machinery or processes.
Around that we have software tools that enable our customer base to deploy our systems. This is where we as the CCS business see a huge opportunity from a cloud computing perspective.
SM: Let’s talk about some of the key drivers and trends you’re seeing in your business vis-à-vis cloud computing.
SP: There are three key elements. We have a rollover in the typical industrial workforce. The people who buy our products have traditionally been relatively long service. They’re called controls engineers. They’re knowledgeable about their own machinery and processes. What we see as generational shift occurring with millennials entering the workforce. They want to engage with products like those we produce, but in a different way. There’s a generational shift going on. At the same time, there is an acceleration of networking technology, open standards, as well as cloud computing and what others have coined the “Internet of machines.” This is huge increase in device-to-device communication and connections that’s occurring. In contrast, for the first 20 years of the Internet, it has all been machinery or people to people or people to machines. There’s now a huge emphasis on machine-to-machine communication. We think the intersection of cloud computing technology with a new workforce that’s interested in dealing with products differently and is more comfortable in a cloud environment, combined with the computing and network technology that’s now available and that we’re adding to our products to make them connectable to the cloud is a unique marketing opportunity.
SM: It’s kind of an intersection of computer science and mechanical engineering.
SP: In some ways that’s true, along with the sociological aspect of this brand new class or generation of workers coming into the workforce as the baby boomers retire. This group has a willingness to interact with the cloud in ways previous generations weren’t.