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It’s time to converge IT and OT

In today’s world of connected, intelligent manufacturing, the convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is an inevitability claims Microsoft Dynamics 365 in its 2019 Manufacturing Trends report.

The notion of IT and OT no longer operating individually but in tandem, has been growing for a few years with global business advisory giants Gartner having echoed this view at the start of 2017.

Greater awareness and investment in IoT (Internet of Things) technology is driving this convergence which is seeing the office and shop-floor move closer together to control and monitor processes and devices, creating smarter, more efficient operations. If manufacturing businesses are going to be leaner and more efficient then they must adapt.

Gartner may have been ahead of the curve with its crystal ball, but it is the rapid development of technology needed to deliver this, combined with a greater willingness from Chief Information Officers and Chief Operating Officers.

As Gartner noted “organizations are keen to integrate IoT and IT technologies (such as sensors, data stewardship, security and analytics) into OT systems. However, IoT deployment is still in the early stages, and most organizations don’t yet have the skills, expertise or time to drive the IT/OT alignment requirements.

“It’s clear that enterprises will need to seek external service providers with proven OT service portfolios. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 50 percent of OT service providers will create key partnerships with IT-centric providers for IoT offerings.”

Microsoft, which can call on more up-to-date data and research, claims there are projected to be 36.13 billion connected IoT devices by 2021.

The impact of this will be far-reaching and manufacturers that have not investigated the move to smart manufacturing, need to begin their journey and investigate not just how to do it, but the benefits of having a connected factory.

These include:

  • Reap the benefits of big data
  • Gain information for better decisions
  • Optimize business processes
  • Minimize sudden machine failures
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Lower risks and shortened project timelines

The challenge for organisations is integrating modern technology into legacy systems and machinery.  As the Microsoft report notes, “The trend towards IT/OT convergence has emerged across numerous industries, from healthcare and transportation to defence and utilities.

“As many of these industries rely on heavy, expensive equipment and highly specialised labour forces, the merger has been slow and tactful. But as technological advances in cloud-computing, remote sensors and connectivity improve, it is becoming faster and easier for manufacturers to integrate the management of industrial technology and integrate new systems with their legacy systems.”

Sci-Tech Daresbury based-companies like Atos, igroup, WaveReach and Delphisonic are at the forefront of using or developing IoT technology that is driving this convergence of IT/OT and showing its impact.

Is it time to explore how you can integrate your IT/OT and be part of the trend?