With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), device connectivity has become one of the key aspects for enterprises to offer better customer convenience and operational efficiency. But what makes device connectivity create personalization either to a machine or an end customer? The answer lies in the emergence of the way Information Technology(IT) and Operational Technology (OT) are converging. IT comprises of computers, networking and storage devices that are data-centric and OT on the other hand monitors and controls physical devices typically associated with industrial topographies.
In a stand-alone OT environment that is usually proprietary and machine-based, the scope of utilizing the customer/machine or process data available in hand is limited. This can result in cases of higher maintenance costs, customer dissatisfaction, longer delivery times, etc. With the convergence of IT and OT systems, one can realize the power of data as we can now play around with it and provide metrics and visualizations that can create new capabilities such as preventive and predictive maintenance.
Some of the key challenges an enterprise may face while trying to implement a successful ITOT strategy include the efficiency with which data is managed without compromising on security, data standards, and interoperability. The very fact that OT systems are majorly legacy and are not network demands them to be sensor-enabled in order to communicate with the IT systems. Many of these OT systems are not designed to be remotely connected and are managed locally, which opens them up to the risk of sabotage when connected online. Ensuring the best of the breed, cybersecurity solutions and adopting Industry standards like ISO 27001 would help in addressing and managing the associated information risk. Depending upon the volume of data coming from the industrial environments, it makes prudent sense to filter, at the device edge gateway, the data to be processed into the IT environment for computing. This will reduce the operational data overload on the system and improve its performance. This applies more to those systems that ask for very low latency.
Industrial IoT is an area in which ITOT convergence is helping shape up with use cases like fleet management, asset maintenance (including Predictive maintenance), Deriving efficiency in Manufacturing, quality monitoring, smart metering and connected vehicles being addressed through best-in-class IoT solutions.
However, the people, systems, and processes related to IT and OT need to work in tandem as part of the strategy to reap the real benefits of IT/OT convergence. This might be difficult initially with the two functions handling IT and OT working in silos and being resistant to change. A governance mechanism in place to oversee IT/OT projects right from inception to execution will go a long way in helping an enterprise stay competent to address the ever-changing industry and customer needs.