As GE CEO Immelt Announces Retirement, Industrial IoT Strategy Is Top Of Mind For Partners

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt Monday said he will retire in August and will be replaced by the current president and CEO of GE Healthcare, John Flannery.

Immelt, who has spent the past 16 years at GE as CEO, has helped reinvent GE from a company that sells light bulbs and military engines to one that is known for providing the software that powers industrial control systems on manufacturing floors.

“I am privileged to have spent the last 16 years at the company working for Jeff, one of the greatest business leaders of our time," said Flannery in a statement. "He has transformed the GE portfolio, globalized the company and created a vision for the GE of the future by positioning the company to lead in digital and additive manufacturing. In the next few months, my focus will be on listening to investors, customers and employees to determine the next steps for GE.”

[Related: GE Digital Urges Partners To Seek Opportunities In The Industrial Internet of Things]

In 2015, the company unveiled its first new business in 75 years – GE Digital – marking an official effort to bring together its software and IT capabilities. At the center of GE Digital is the company's Predix cloud, which is designed specifically for industrial data and analytics as a Platform-as-a-Service, enabling operators to use machine data faster and more efficiently.

Flannery, meanwhile, has played a pivotal role in building up GE Healthcare's digital solution base since he first joined the business in 2014. The executive helped the business create new digital platforms and solutions and add key technology to its cell therapy systems business.

Flannery also launched Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, which is focused on bringing disruptive technologies to health-care providers across emerging markets. Immelt said in a tweet that he is confident Flannery will drive GE's strategy in the digital age.

As GE continues to reinvent itself, the company hopes to work with its partners to help them transform their own companies and drive sales around manufacturing operations which, according to research firm IDC, was the IoT use case that saw the largest investment, $102.5 billion, in 2016. Partners, meanwhile, hope that GE doesn't stray from its path of pushing the industrial Internet of Things.

"Immelt moved GE away from financial services and brought the company back to its bread-and-butter around heavy industrial services for manufacturing, oil, gas and energy," said Andy Sivaraman, senior vice president at Paramus, N.J.-based GE partner ITC Infotech. "I think the timing is perfect for the new CEO coming in to continue these investments and increase the value of GE's business.

"It is interesting that Flannery comes from GE Healthcare; he seems to have a heavy finance background and can leverage that," he said. "The vendors backing GE right now also are important, with the company's focus on energy, health care and aviation – these are all core areas where there will be a lot of spend."

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