Engineering, Equipment & Technology, Mining and Heavy Industries

GE boss: Australia should harness data analytics

Several Australian industries, including mining, could benefit from big data analysis. Photo: BHP Billiton

The Australian boss of US conglomerate GE has said local companies can do more to harness software and high level data analytics to lift productivity, in an interview with Fairfax.

GE’s Industrial Internet program aims to use big data – the broad term for the advanced processing of massive data sets – to find new levels of efficiency in the wide range of industries for which it manufactures products, including aviation, power generation and rail transport.

“Executives of industrial companies are well aware of the potential power and source of value of the Industrial Internet,” GE’s latest report on the emerging sector states.

“According to our survey, 73% of companies are already investing more than 20% of their overall technology budget on big data analytics.”

The company’s global survey also indicated 22% of companies are investing more than 30% of their technological expenditure on big data analytics. It found 76% of all companies expect their big data spending to increase, while 0% expect it to decline.

GE’s Australian boss, Geoff Culbert, however, thinks Australian businesses could do more to harness big data’s potential.

“There are huge opportunities in sectors where Australia has real relevance, like oil and gas and mining,” Culbert reportedly told Fairfax this week, “industries that have historically been quite manual.”

He reportedly said the company, which has a facility in California dedicated to this cause, is looking at bringing a similar level of capability Down Under.

“The thing that we are working on now that is really interesting is bringing software capability to Australia,” he was quoted as saying.

GE, traditionally a manufacturer of large machines and parts, has over the last decade and a half undergone a re-focusing process which has resulted in a larger presence in the digital sector.

“This is the biggest transformational change, this move from being just a hardware company to being a hardware and software company,” Culbert reportedly said.

“We’ve been around for [nearly] 130 years. If we are going to survive for the next 130, you have got to be changing.”

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