Vietnam’s vision to become a manufacturing powerhouse is driven by government policy supporting industrial modernization (especially in support of new tecnologies and solutions) and local companies embracing change.
FPT Corporation, one of the country’s leading IT companies, is at the forefront of Vietnam’s digital transformation. In recent weeks, FPT announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with GE Digital, where GE will run training courses for FPT staff on GE’s Predix Industrial Internet of Things platform. In addition, FPT Software will become GE Digital’s authorized distributor of products and services throughout Southeast Asia.
Following the announcement, GE Reports asked Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital about the opportunities and challenges in the digital industrial sector today, some of the latest trends, and his opinion on Vietnam’s progress so far.
GE Reports: In simple terms, how do you define “digital industry”?
Bill Ruh: It’s the industry where digital technology is applied to allow manufacturers and plants to be smarter and more productive, more efficient. For startups, this is a chance to develop new products and services for the future. In the coming years, digital applications represent a nearly 7-trillion-dollar chance in 10 years as valued by World Economic Forum.
GE Reports: The Predix training program will focus on Predix and Digital Twin. What’s the role of these two factors in the digital industry?
Bill Ruh: Predix is an operating platform for industrial companies – in simple terms, it’s designed to provide a similar function, or role, like Uber or Grab for the taxi industry. Uber and Grab connect taxies, Predix connects machines and plants to improve efficiency.
Digital Twin meanwhile, is used not only for collecting and analyzing data as before but also for enabling operators to make sound decisions. Decision making is the challenging part, but timely decision making will make all the difference. Digital Twin enables customers to arrive at solutions that are not only economic but also made at the right time.
GE Reports: How important is the digital industry to a country?
Bill Ruh: I think the digital transformation is already under way, but it might not be so obvious to everyone. Every country has plans to boost their digital economy. In Germany, China, Japan, America or Kazakhstan, digital revolution is booming. These countries quickly developed policies and regulations to encourage digital technology and as a result, they are on the forefront. Digital technology empowers faster GDP growth, increased export and better jobs. Whoever invests in digital now will likely become the winner tomorrow.
GE Reports: Where does Vietnam stand in this race?
Bill Ruh: Currently, there are only about 20 countries focusing on taking full advantage of the digital transformation. I think it’s very exciting that Vietnam is one of these countries. The Vietnamese government has also included digital transformation as a target in its development agenda.
GE Reports: What should Vietnam do to take advantage of the digital transformation?
Bill Ruh: I think one of the key challenges with digital transformation is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution or a recipe for success. GE Digital thinks that there are three key things that Vietnam should do to keep up with the pace. First, encourage companies to transform digitally through a supporting policy framework. Second, fund digital education with a focus on skills development. Third, make it known to international partners and the world that Vietnam is committed to investing in its digital economy.
GE Reports: What do you think the key challenges in digital transformation are?
Bill Ruh: The key challenge is people – their will, and skill, to embrace change. When we began developing Predix, we built a system to save money and fuel for industrial companies. At the time, people were hesitant to apply. The same thing happened when pioneering startups invested in the Internet in 1996 – not many believed in the consumer Internet that is the backbone of our lives today. That’s why I think, that in-order to take advantage of change, we must be willing to adapt. The ability to use and make the most of technology is also critical, which could be fostered through education policies that focuses on skills developments.
GE Reports: What can companies do to catch up with the trends?
Bill Ruh: The first thing to do is setting a clear target. Then, I often say there are three boring but sexy words. They are “zero scheduled downtime”, which could result in 7 trillion dollars of savings and efficiency gains. If you reduce downtime, increase the efficiency by 3%, you can make change and win the game.
GE Reports: How do you think the partnership announced today between GE Digital and FPT will help change the landscape of digital transformation in Vietnam?
Bill Ruh: GE Digital is pleased to provide the tools to help Vietnamese industries transform their businesses and lead the digital industrial era through our Predix portfolio. FPT is one of the few companies understanding the digital transformation. Our partnership will help GE technology become more accessible for customers.