"GE should not only be a company with a market capitalization above the level of $100 billion," said Jeffrey Immelt, former chairman of GE, at the time. "We should also envision GE as a superstore as well as a global knowledge exchange center."
The advent of Predix sparked global competition in the area of the industrial internet, with industrial titans like Siemens and Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) all launching their own industrial cloud service platforms subsequently.
"Now, the industrial internet is becoming crucial for major global powers to reach the commanding heights in the industrial field," noted Chen Zhaoxiong, Chinese vice minister of Industry and Information Technology, during last year's China Industrial Internet Conference held in Guangzhou.
Being aware of the significance of the industrial internet to the future development of a country's manufacturing sector, China, which now has the world's largest and most complete industrial system, has also decided to explore this emerging area.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) rolled out a three-year plan for the development of industrial internet on Thursday, kicking off China's effort to develop this new technology.
According to the plan, the period from 2018 to 2020 will be the preliminary stage for the building of China's industrial internet system, which will lay a foundation for the development of the country's real and digital economy.
China's goal at this stage is to complete the construction of the infrastructure and an industrial system which can support the industrial internet.
To be specific, China plans to build a reliable and customizable inter-enterprise internet infrastructure which has a wide coverage and is equipped with a large broadband network by 2020. It will also transform the internal systems for at least 100 enterprises in the key industries, including, among others, car manufacturing, aerospace, petrochemical, and machinery manufacturing.
To connect the numerous so-called islands of information, China will also make efforts to establish an identifier resolution system, which is expected to contain five top-level nodes and at least ten service nodes for the resolution of public identifiers by 2020.
Another important task for the development of the industrial internet is to build a group of industrial internet platforms. China aims to foster about ten cross-industry and cross-area enterprise-level industrial internet platforms over the next three years. It will also bring more than 300 thousand industrial enterprises to its industrial cloud platform and develop over 300 thousand industrial APPs.
"Industrial internet platforms are one of the major pillars for industrial digitalization as well as the upgrading of the manufacturing sector," said Yang Lichun, director of the Information Research Center of the CCID Industry and Information Technology Institute. "Since such platforms are also the important carriers through which China can participate in the global competition, China must build national-level industrial internet platforms."