What Does the JPMorgan Chase/Current LED Deal Say About the Future?

by | Feb 19, 2016

Orion LED Energy ManageThe deal announced yesterday between Current – GE’s energy-focused startup – and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for a massive LED replacement project has the feel of being something of a milestone.

One thing that is for certain is that it’s about more than the LEDs. And that’s saying a lot: The deal, according to the company, is the “world’s largest single-order LED installation to date.” It could cover 25 million square feet at about 5,000 branches and has the potential to reduce the light-related energy use at the branches by more than half.

That’s an impressive LED project that would be significant news if that was it. But there is more – a lot more – suggested by the move. In short, this is an early example of a diverse and powerful energy-related company establishing a toehold for services that almost certainly will go far beyond its initial efficient lighting mandate. That mandate, however, likely will more than pay for the rollout.

What seems to be happening is that deep ecosystems are forming. There are two other elements of the press release that show GE is looking at even a bigger picture than re-lighting 25 million square feet. The steps are important – as is the fact that GE saw fit to put them in the same press release as the LED news.

The first is that GE is working with Capegemini, which provides access to more than 200 developers. That’s a lot more developers than are needed to figure out how to turn lights on and off:

The developers will be focused on creating software solutions that will help commercial and industrial customers reduce power consumption, generate power onsite, and drive new revenue streams through the use of sensors and networked systems in buildings and cities.

The second element is that Current is working with Intel on intelligent streetlamps. The lights will use Intel’s IoT platform, which “will process large and evolving data loads quickly with the reliability and flexibility demanded by cities today.”

Thus, the idea is that the deal could be the harbinger of the meshing of corporate and municipal LEDs, controlled by sophisticated software written by Capegemini and feeding the collected data back to GE’s Predix analytic cloud.

There are a lot of pieces to this, and how precisely how the vision is realized remains to be seen. The bottom line, however, is that it is clear that there is a massive transition underway. The deal announced by GE and JPMorgan Chase is another sign that the players are starting to coalesce in ecosystems that will create a fabrics that will control energy, among many other things.

LEDs are uniquely positioned. The business and environmental cases are well established, so return on investment and time to payback for the replacements of legacy lighting is clear. The cost of including IoT functionality that allows the gear to go beyond lighting seems to be incidental. On top of that, lighting is ubiquitous: It is needed in homes, on the streets and in businesses. It thus is the perfect touchpoint for the meshes these companies seek to create.

A couple of other examples – albeit less dramatic – is Cree’s announcement this week that it will work with on a power-over-Ethernet (PoE) LED platform that will incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT). Similarly, late last year Royal Philips announced the SmartPoles pilot project with San Jose, CA. The pilot project will combine LED lighting and 4G cellular from Ericsson. In addition, Philips said in its press release, the project “will also help test backbone technology needed to power San Jose’s smart city transformation so that it can save energy, have brighter streets at night, and respond to the changing needs of its residents.

Another piece of the puzzle is the announcement this week of the Open Data Platform. Fifteen companies – including Capegemini and General Electric – agreed to create big data standards around Hadoop, an open source software platform enabling large scale data process across multiple commodity servers. In other words, the five companies are putting in place ways to efficiently harness the almost unimaginably huge amount of data that the IoT produces. It’s almost certain that one source of the data will be the type of LED-based project announced by GE and JPMorgan Chase.

Pivotal Software’s press release announcing the ODP suggests that one source of the data will be the type of LED-based project announced by GE and JPMorgan Chase:

Today’s announcement is about an organization that will be created in the near future. However, progress is not waiting for the Open Data Platform to stand itself up. It assembles many partners who are already working together on big data initiatives. GE helped get Pivotal started specifically to tackle modern challenges of combining big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), with results stacking up to save trillions in the next few years.

Pivotal is a Silicon Valley company that helps companies quickly develop custom software.

Things are changing very rapidly. The deal announced this week between Current and JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a clear signal of the significant nature of those changes — and the fact that some of the big players are implementing cohesive strategies.

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