The Internet of Things (IoT) and its supporting sensors, actuators, and analytics systems have received extraordinary attention recently. At the same time, it has the reignited the age-old debate between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). Who should support and maintain process and control systems? Which group should purchase and maintain sensors embedded in machines and products? Who assumes ownership of the analytics systems?
Traditionally, IT and OT systems have operated independently. Not only does this approach result in information silos, but it also creates two separate and distinct environments with their own standards and best practices. Over time, the two groups diversified and coming together became a challenge – likely because of the amount of additional work required to reunite.
In the new era of the digital economy, this mentality no longer works. Our hyperconnected world is generating data at an exponential rate for both business and industrial operations. For IT and OT organizations, running multiple systems on parallel networks creates an overly complex environment. To seize the transformative opportunity before them, these two groups must unite to simplify the overall technology infrastructure and combine IT and OT data in a way that delivers novel and actionable insights through advanced analytics and visualization.
IT and OT: Four reasons why it’s time to build a partnership
We know that having IT and OT teams work together sounds great in theory, but is very difficult in practice. However, according to McKinsey & Company, less than 1% of all data is currently used. When you consider this statistic, it does make you wonder whether the industry is missing out by not using the remaining 99% to optimize operations and predict and act on opportunities for growth. Putting that unused data to work may be worth the time, money, and effort after all.
Here are four critical advantages of having your IT and OT organizations unite forces to realize the full potential of the IoT:
- Well-rounded decision making. Every one of your competitors is most likely collecting real-time, heterogeneous information to analyze and support predictions and decision making. However, many of them may not have merged their OT and IT data, leaving them to realize certain insights when it is too late. Connecting operational and business data enables you to gain insight that takes into account costs, resources, and logistics when analyzing the latest market trends and consumer demand. For example, you can see the financial business impact of a decision to delay a maintenance activity.
- Secure control systems and all data. The last thing any OT organization needs is a hole in the system infrastructure that allows a hacker or third party to control production equipment. Although not all data generated from the billions of devices available today need to be protected from unauthorized access, IT and OT organizations still need to deal with this new level of risk introduced by the IoT. Extending information to new devices and external systems presents more opportunities for potential breaches that can spell disaster for your bottom line, reputation, and customers. Inserting a process integrator system between OT and IT networks provides an abstraction layer that is read-only and not accessible for write and control rights. This addition safeguards your control and process systems –critical for safe and reliable operations – from a cyberattack.
- Reliable governance. To integrate all information consistently and reliably across silos, IT and OT information needs to be consistent. Central governance of data that includes business rules and subject-matter domain expertise can help your business realize the full value of the IoT and the data it generates. Plus, the resulting simplification of the IT landscape can dramatically reduce total cost of ownership.
- Protection of existing technology investments. The big payoff when uniting IT and OT systems is that both groups can use what they own while enabling new capabilities. By combining people and tools within IT and OT to deliver impactful decisions and actions with real impact, you can improve the value of your existing technology investments.
Explore how uniting your IT and OT organizations can help your company realize the full potential of the IoT. Join us for a Webinar on Friday, July 24, at 10:00 a.m. EDT to learn how companies are using a data-driven approach to improve business models, support transformation, and thrive in a competitive environment.