General Electric Co. (GE:US) is hiring thousands of engineers near San Francisco in a push to connect everything from jet engines to medical-imaging machines to the Web and help customers run equipment more efficiently.
“We’ve opened a software center in the East Bay, hiring thousands of software engineers to basically bring all the great innovation you’ve seen in Silicon Valley now to industry,” Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer at GE, said at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in Half Moon Bay, California.
Comstock said GE is developing an “industrial Internet,” building networks that harvest data from commercial machines and offering services to help customers analyze the resulting reams of information. The company said last year that it was investing $1 billion in a facility in San Ramon and hiring engineers from Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US), SAP AG (SAP) and Symantec Corp. (SYMC:US) as well as Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt has stressed the savings potential from using data to tweak machines, saying that even a 1 percent improvement in the operations of commercial aircraft would translate into $2 billion less per year in fuel costs for GE’s customers in the airline industry.
As Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE adds sensors to jet engines, the next step is to help customers analyze all the resulting data, Comstock said.
“We probably haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to data when machines start talking to machines and machines start talking to people,” Comstock said. “We have to make sense of it.”
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