Revolutionizing Manufacturing by Bringing Together IT and OT
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Revolutionizing Manufacturing by Bringing Together IT and OT

By Manufacturing Technology Insights | Thursday, January 24, 2019

According to a new IDC spending guide, global expenditure on digital transformation will be nearly $2 Trillion in 2022. This data represents the digital transformation of hardware, software and other services in the business domain. Information technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) are two different technologies that have been in isolation, but digital transformation forces them to align with it. As the convergence usually faces resistance, the worry is that how will the manufacturers successfully align IT and OT.

Silo Working

A factory is a big unit; there are the material, employees, the machines and the systems that make high-quality products. IT and OT are the critical components of this big unit. However, the challenge for manufacturers is that IT and OT work in silos with very little interaction even when it concerns the critical production data. This further diminishes the visibility of how other department’s role fit in the manufacturing structure. For instance, major concerns for the IT department could be privacy and security, while for the OT teams it could be uptime and safety.

Therefore, it is quite evident that the convergence of these two departments could lead to conflict.

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Advantages of IT/OT

Aligning both IT and OT offers a comprehensive view of the operational challenges and opportunities factories may come across in the manufacturing process. This is because it brings transparency and clarity in the process of both IT and OT. For a better approach, IT and OT employees can rotate their roles to comprehend better how both of them works as it can build understanding among previously non-aligned departments.

This convergence can further help IT and OT to share real-time data to make better business decisions, forecast consumer trends, and be competitive. It will lead to higher product performance and reduced costs.

Hence, the firm’s toughest challenges can be solved by encouraging both the departments to understand each other’s roles, break down the internal silos and work together.

Culture is Crucial for Convergence

Change is risky but is essential for development. IT/OT convergence is rejected at times due to the change-resistance environment of a few organizations. Undoubtedly, convergence is a significant step as there are two different departments with different objectives.

However, strong leadership from stakeholders is essential to ensure that both IT and OT collaboration is a step towards a company’s success. This leadership needs to set priorities of the enterprises, empower the departments and then work in the right direction with the right technology. The successful convergence of both IT and OT is crucial for the survival in the revolution of smart manufacturing.

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