Disruptive technology changes lives

GE has taken the bold step to launch a new standalone division, Current, powered by GE, a digital power service built to transform the way we use energy. Rob Manderson discusses how disruptive technologies like the blockchain and those that Current, powered by GE, will apply could change everything.

Having been enlightened and challenged by The Crowd’s latest discussions on the merits, potential and limitations of disruptive technology, intelligent solutions are very much de rigeur, both in our office and the wider business community.

Big change brings inevitable discomfort, but transformation can only happen if we embrace the unknown with optimism, for once change occurs it is impossible to revert. It may be a truism, but the one constant in life is change, the pace of which is accelerating exponentially.

Take energy, for example. Less than a decade ago our understanding of energy equated to a consumable commodity, used to power our lights, cars and appliances. It cost relatively little and when it ran out we just generated more. Now energy is an opportunity to enhance not only our experience of the world but the world itself.

Today energy is intelligent. It listens. It learns. It sees. And this intelligence has a phenomenal value. So much so that GE has recently taken the bold step to create a stand-alone division, Current, powered by GE, to usher in a new era in energy. Current, powered by GE, is a digital power service built to transform the way we use energy. It unleashes a completely new (and disruptive) way to think about our planet; how we choose to live; how we choose to work: how we ultimately choose to evolve.

Through cloud-based platforms for the Internet of Things, businesses’ and municipalities’ energy use can be analysed, optimised and reduced. Sensors and networked systems enable transformative data to be collected, which can form the basis of new services and tools to improve efficiency, user experience and profitability. Suddenly traffic management, predictive maintenance, on-site power generation, load distribution and much more become viable options.

The UK is quickly recognising that the “Internet of Energy” is a powerful vehicle to drive progress towards a smarter, greener economy. In his first report, Lord Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, firmly championed what he describes as the “Smart Power Revolution”, outlining three key elements: interconnection, electricity storage and demand flexibility. Lord Adonis says the UK is “uniquely placed to take advantage of smart power” and that “failing to do so would be an expensive mistake.”

The Crowd’s recent event on the blockchain revolution explored the potential of  permanent, immutable ledgers of actions that can’t to be censored, are visible to everyone within each chain, and provide, in real time, a record of what has changed hands, when and for what price.

This new technology has the potential to deliver new levels of trust and traceability. It may shine a light on human rights issues and environmental abuse within supply chains, as well as providing better certification of organic and other positive standards. However it is applied, it will be disruptive. Predicted to be bigger than the internet, the blockchain brings with it a whole host of unanswered questions such as how far can anyone guarantee its security, its dependency upon the internet, its inevitable legal implications and to what extent it is ultimately accountable.
These technologies represent disruption with a capital D, forcing us to think about business and life in an entirely new way. They are revolutionary in the way we will gather and disseminate information for the common good, improving city administration efficiency, saving taxpayers their hard earned cash and even saving lives.

Rob Manderson is the strategic partnerships senior manager at Current, powered by GE.

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