Video interview: William Ruh, head of software at GE

In this video interview, William Ruh, vice president at GE Global Software Center, discusses how sensor networks will create a machine services business at the company.

He says: “The nature of the machine is changing. We are making them more intelligent.” At the software centre his team's role is to build the systems that collect, analyse the data and deliver insight.

GE is known for its turbines, jet engines and medical scanners, not for its software. But, according to Ruh: “A lot of the complexity comes in [machine] operations. Software helps to optimise operations of the machines.”

Software accounts for around $3bn of licensing business at GE. In fact, it provides the energy management system for the UK's National Grid. Ruh's vision is to enhance GE's services business, driven by new software, sensors networks and predictive analytics to provide insight based on the vast amount of data collected. This will enable GE to limit downtime based on machine failure and potentially improve a machine's performance by remotely monitoring it in real time.

Data scientists play a significant role at the software centre. Ruh is looking not merely for great mathematicians or engineers, but for people who can understand the meaning of the data sets when applied to a machine operating in the real world.

He is also looking to create a software centre in the UK. “It is really hard to find data scientists but there are a lot of great people [who fit the role] here in the UK.

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