Take, for example, General Electric, which has already turned itself into a math house. It has assembled a staff in Silicon Valley to provide customers with advanced analytics that do such things as predict when equipment maintenance is due. As of the middle of last year, this quintessential industrial company had about two-thirds of its $250 billion backlog in orders from services based on its mathematical intellectual property.
Machine-to-machine communication and learning also help managers increase their capability and capacity and the speed of their decisions. The potential uses have barely been scratched, and the growth opportunities of this bend in the road can be immense for those who seize them.
The companies that have the new mathematical capabilities possess a huge advantage over those that don’t. Google, Facebook, and Amazon were created as mathematical corporations. Apple became a math corporation after Steve Jobs returned as CEO. This trend will accelerate. Legacy companies that can’t make the shift will be vulnerable to digitally minded competitors.