Sunday, February 1, 2015

OT/IT Convergence “What does it mean in the Industrial World?”

The convergence of Operational Technology and Information Technology is nothing new, it has been front and center certainly since early 2000. Where the Y2K challenge brought awareness in many organizations, how much server, IT like capabilities reside in the industrial automation/ operational landscape. But in the last 3 months I must have been pulled into 10+ workshops, sessions with companies where OT/IT convergence has been the leading point of the discussion. Determining how they are developing strategies to adopt, leverage the opportunity.

The diagram below shows a high level approach to how to “bridge” the different objectives of the two cultures of IT/OT. The success is not one taking over the other but the merger to achieve the combined value and objective. 

It is important to note that it is not a trend it is an opportunity due to evolution of technologies from IT/and OT that synergies and alignments are possible to provide opportunities too:
  • ·         Increase operational and business alignment in real time
  • ·         To alignment business across multiple plants and value chain
  • ·         To accommodate the empowerment of knowledge workers through a combination of connected and mobile devices.
  • ·         To leverage IT and Operational efficiency through common services, capability
  • ·         To address growing demand of Operational Management, that has out grown the tradition OT capabilities and methods. Only a step change by leveraging capabilities in IT, with existing OT/automation capabilities will the requirements be satisfied.

The companies I have seen successful have also understood that a new culture is required and have formed a “Product IT” team composed of IT and Automation/operational people. This brings the critical understanding and cross learning so the above “bridging” strategies are a combined experience strategy.

Companies that determine where they want to be understand the critical nature of multiple platforms at different levels of the architecture, but “loosely coupled, but tight alignment” between them is key. Platforms are key to a sustainable architecture that allows agility over different plants and different work forces and processes.  

I will continue this discussion in the coming weeks as this topic is becoming fundamental to success of traversing the “operational transformation”.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the mission blend and unification under a separate focus is dicey but courageous.
    One of the common core issues I have observed in both OT and IT is the need for clear process and procedure. OT is focused entirely on process and procedure it is the life blood pulse that drive their 7x24 365 output. IT has historically shaved process and procedure to fit the "business" with a more public and sometimes "bruised eye"

    I have been in the trenches with both groups on many NERC CIP " blended" engagements. Forming a separate team and mission with clear sponsorship and support from both areas involved is strongly suggested. My experience shows coaching both groups separately and together toward a shared mission seems to enable the human history issues to neutralize, after all at the end of the day, the goal is the same provide safe and reliable service to customers and keep our human passion for friends and family protected.