Asset intensive industries are challenged by the convergence of business systems (IT) and plant automation (OT). This union between OT and IT is becoming more streamlined and comprehensive as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) becomes more established. Successful IT/OT convergence provides both a strategic and performance advantage by aligning operational goals with business objectives. In addition to eliminating information silos, frequently cited benefits of convergence include getting the most of assets, streamlining work processes, greater operational efficiency, and leveraging emerging technologies.
IT/OT/ET Convergence Benefits
These benefits are all related to physical assets in some way causing this analyst ask the question, how can these benefits be attained if engineering technology is omitted from this convergence? Respondents to a recent ARC web survey overwhelming indicated that the engineering department bears responsibility for managing asset-related data and analytics in those companies. What is perhaps more troubling according to the survey results is that responsibilities not clearly defined outpaced those for IT and OT combined! However, if engineering has primary responsibility for asset-related data, it should also be included to provide a single model of automation and operations management. In order to gain maximum benefit from convergence, enterprises must move beyond simply automating and integrating production processes to automating and integrating workflows with business processes including plant engineering in a common information infrastructure.
The shift from intelligent solutions to the application of industrial analytics offers new opportunities for improvement by gaining new insight from known information. IIoT is the impetus for this technological convergence. In order to attain full benefit, IT, OT, and ET strategies must be harmonized such that common governance, work practices, and process models are utilized. Successful IT/OT/ET convergence provides both strategic and performance advantage by aligning operational goals with business objectives, optimizing processes, improving asset maintenance, and increasing economic efficiency.