Two years ago, considerable investment was made to improve network connectivity and establish cloud-based data repositories. Today, a shift in spending has occurred to invest in the infrastructure connecting disparate data silos. Gaining access to this data provides broader intelligence across the digital enterprise to drive performance and profitability improvement. The COVID-19 crisis has now accelerated this trend. Upon a closer look, it becomes clear that five core benefits are driving this transformation to better manage operations data.
Read more here: What is IT/OT Convergence – and Why You Should Care?
In January 2020, IDC research suggested the emergence of a new trend. Jonathan Lang, research manager, IDC’s Worldwide IT/OT Convergence Strategies, stated, “as enterprises advance Industry 4.0 initiatives, they have grown to appreciate the need for IT/OT convergence and are beginning to align the necessary business practices and resources to support it. But change management is no easy task, and there are key lessons to be learned from companies that are succeeding at integrating these two traditionally siloed groups” (source).
Then in March, along came the coronavirus. The manufacturing industry, like so many others impacted by the global pandemic, began looking to see what new digital technologies could help navigate a path to the new normal. Industry 4.0 initiatives are one example. Improving how to manage operations data and share across the IT infrastructure is another.
IoT Investment is Not Enough
While spending on Internet of Things (IoT) programs has been underway for several years now, much work still needs to be done. The challenge is that IT still has only limited visibility into legacy, non-digitized assets. Most industrial manufacturers can still only see data from about half of their shop floor equipment, significantly impacting their ability to improve performance.
Watch this webinar to gain a better understanding of this challenge, and how to overcome it: What is IT/OT Converence?
What has emerged is a series of data silos across the manufacturing value chain. An abundance of legacy technology still exists – coupled with a lack of new skills across the workforce – that is blocking the potential value from just investing in an IoT program.
To capture and manage operations data with all the necessary context to drive intelligence, manufacturers must invest in digital technologies that can ease application integration to enable access and sharing of data across their enterprise. Only then can the full return on investment from Industry 4.0 objectives be captured.
5 Reasons to Invest Now in IT/OT Convergence
Some of the benefits that can be unlocked from implementing an effective IT/OT Convergence strategy include a manufacturer’s ability to:
- Perform ad hoc modifications to optimize performance – these types of analyses are now being performed daily or even hourly as conditions change with greater frequency and speed today
- Reduce unscheduled downtime – greater visibility to dependent variables leads to an improved ability to anticipate possible future downtime, as well as the ability to better plan accordingly to minimize the economic impact of an unplanned downtime; the potential cost avoidance could be more than $100k per hour
- Implement an effective data governance strategy – any sort of regulatory compliance requirement on data privacy or change management must be managed holistically; when data is stored on a site-by-site basis within a variety of legacy systems, it is nearly impossible to avoid having big gaps in coverage; operational data is increasingly becoming part of enterprise data governance models; IT departments must gain better visibility
- Establish or improve upon asset or performance analytics solutions – with a focus on smart factories, the theme is to work smarter, which requires access to more data; information trapped in silos is becoming a greater issue
- Drive new technology implementations – those looking to apply new Artificial Intelligence or other technologies must increasingly rely upon data captured from both operations and IT systems; any infrastructure architecture that blocks gaining access to this data will reduce the effectiveness of these programs.
What has emerged is a fragmented landscape of data capture, sharing, and analytics. To better manage operations data, and to capture and understand operations and enterprise performance, it makes sense why manufacturers are now investing with greater emphasis on IT/OT Convergence initiatives. This strategy can overcome the hurdles of data silos and unlock the next level of Industry 4.0 performance and success.
Gordon Benzie has 20+ years of leadership experience in marketing and communication roles. This knowledge was gained while working at software solution providers focused on driving digital transformation across industrial operations. As an avid technologist, Gordon has a deep understanding of how today’s technologies are improving manufacturing processes within discrete, hybrid, and process industries. Follow Gordon on LinkedIn.