Internet, schminternet…

A vehicle for millennials with a giant sense of self and the smartphone connected masses drowning in the shallows.

The buzz right now is the much storied Internet of Things (IoT) – smart phones controlling fridges, thermostats, cars.

But gestating is the Internet of Really Important Things, known as the Industrial Internet or IIoT.

Big, big story.

Think programmable farms, factories, supply lines, cities, oil fields, mines.

Think ‘a social network of industrial machines’ – giant locomotives, jet engines, wind turbines, freight lorries, robots – throwing off data that will dwarf the volume of data generated by consumers from the conventional internet.

All made possible by zillions of sensors feeding streaming data from jet engines, factories, freighters and other ‘really important things’ to predictive analytic software engines and remote control hubs.

The build-out of this Industrial Internet is underway and will reshape by 2030 the $30 trillion a year global industrial economy.

Leading the parade is not Google, Amazon or Facebook but industrial behemoth GE – the most valuable company in the world in 2004 but since then overhauled by  outfits like Apple, Google, Microsoft with no horizontal drills, grease or hard hats in sight.

A few years ago, GE got a big fright.

IBM and other IT service companies with big data and predictive analytic skills in their armouries were proving a lot better than GE at signalling when a gas turbine might fail or a jet engine component might malfunction.

This was an ‘existential’ threat to GE’s huge industrial service and maintenance business, which manages contracts of over $300 billion spawned by its $60 billion a year industrial equipment business.

The result?

GE’s chief honcho Jeff Immelt set about morphing GE  into a ‘software’ driven company and is spending well over $1 billion to do so.

GE already has a cadre of 1800 software engineers in Silicon Valley and Immelt goes round to conferences of his industrial peers these days and tells them ‘tomorrow morning you need to wake up and tell yourself I’m no longer running an industrial company but a ‘smart’ software company.’

The Industrial Internet, according to the likes of McKinsey,  promises to be twice the size of the a still fast growing consumer Internet within 15 years and to have profound and ramifying political, economic and social consequences that short-termist, ‘not on my watch’, political classes dare not contemplate.

A world, as we already know, full of promise and peril as tech tumult becomes ever more a self-multiplying force.