As promised, in this third blog we will explore how to integrate IT with OT. We see technology crossing boundaries. We see solutions from Automation moving to the Cloud or to the Edge, where the same knowledge from the IT world is applied. We see the need for IT to explore IOT solutions that would provide better tools for real-time decision-making processes.
There is clearly an important factor in Cybersecurity. Cyberattacks are becoming more and more common, particularly in industrial facilities where attackers can ransom equipment and stop operations. Attackers know that this could be a weak spot of which they can take advantage.
IT is used for antivirus, obsolescence, network segmentation, and data centers. Auto is driven by bringing technology to the line when needed and then moving to new projects. But what is more important is that digital transformation in an industrial facility can only come to full value if you are able to connect data from both worlds in a way that you can build solutions in real time and at the same time take advantage of data for process improvement and management control.
Traditionally, Auto would maintain equipment, measuring performance and interruptions. IT would start from sales and bring to the industrial system what to produce, measure production advancement, define priorities, set and measure inventory targets, and build a management control system to make sure that we do what we should be doing.
For that reason, the IT system would need information coming from Auto, what is normally called Level 2, to build the information on top, normally called the Management Enterprise System or MES. Many interphases between the two systems are needed and built by different roles in the organization.
Digital transformation is challenging in an organization because, in order to transform, you need to combine data in different time frames and use them in different solutions or applications. The challenge is how to do it efficiently.
For some time we have been struggling with this subject. Do we agree that the worlds of IT-OT are eventually integrating into one? Do we need to rush or fight for this integration? My experience, like many others in my work life, is that first you need to learn from each other, understand what drives technology and priorities in both areas, and find the “agenda” that unites us. In our journey, our goal was first to build trust between the two organizations, second to see where the value of integration becomes very clear.
We defined that IT would take governance on Cybersecurity for both groups, guaranteeing operations in a safe and connected infrastructure. Second, we decided that the most important part for digitalization was to build a common data platform where both teams, according to the need, would build reports or define process improvement solutions including AI or process automation. Third and most important was to have a common agenda for projects instead of driving our own agenda. Our final customers are the same. The goal is to maximize the benefits for the company.
I am absolutely sure that these three steps are essential for better management of IT-OT in any industry. Whether the future will see a merger between both roles is yet to be seen. The value is in cooperation and a common agenda.
In my next blog we will explore the following question, how to transform and maintain the lights on at the same time without increasing overall costs. Any ideas?
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