During the past 18 months, there has been an increasing trend of companies expanding their use of Operational Technology (OT) beyond traditional manufacturing and logistics applications into areas of the business that traditional IT previously supported. With OT devices and embedded sensors providing increased monitoring and control capabilities, it is not surprising that companies are finding new opportunities to enable business process, facilities and workforce automation using this technology – bringing them closer to the vision of a digital enterprise.
The challenge for CIOs and their organizations is determining to what extent OT should be integrated with traditional IT systems, and then articulating the value case for investing in the integration effort. To aid in this discussion, here are 5 key benefits of integrating IT and OT in your organization.
- Supportability and cost synergies – Your IT function has likely already invested many years in developing and maturing capabilities for IT Service Management, infrastructure operations and support of technology within your company’s environment. Integration of OT into the IT service portfolio will enable you to leverage existing resources, processes and tools to provide the necessary support for OT without incurring duplicate overhead costs. For example, you will likely only need one ITSM system, using existing service desk and operations center infrastructure while leveraging current problem management processes.
- Managing TCO of technology portfolio – With increased global competition and shrinking profit margins, most CIOs are receiving more pressure from executives to decrease the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the technology on which the company relies. By integrating OT into the IT portfolio, these new asset types can be managed as part of the company’s overall technology footprint, enabling a greater understanding of the ROI being provided, the expected life of the assets, and making more informed prioritization decisions as to when to invest in OT vs. traditional IT systems.
- Blurring lines between business and IT – As companies digitize, the dividing lines between business functions and the technology that enables those functions are blurring. Business processes are becoming so dependent on technology that without it many processes are not able to function. OT perpetuates and expands this trend to embed technology deeper into the business environment, providing greater visibility to how technology performance is impacting physical process performance.
- Analytics to drive efficiencies – IT and OT each produce unique and valuable data about the organization, operations, business processes and the behavior of people and physical activities. In the context of a digital enterprise, decision makers must not only understand what is occurring within the technology as well as with the people and physical processes, but also they must understand how the two impact each other. Integrating the data from IT and OT into a single normalized data model can help enable the development of integrated insights that can be used to drive operational efficiency and competitive advantage.
- Security monitoring and controls – There is no question that IT security, privacy and risk management are critical concerns at the top of mind for most CIOs and company executives. As companies adopt more OT into their environments, these new technology implementations will become an attractive target for those with malicious intent. Most IT organizations have developed sophisticated processes and capabilities to monitor and control security vulnerabilities and incidents to mitigate persistent and evolving threats. Integration of IT and OT will allow the current security management capabilities to be extended to the OT environments as well, providing more effective risk management and incident response.
Operational Technology is expected to continue to assume an expanding role in most organizations, enabling greater integration between business processes, physical activities and supporting technology. Integrating OT into the broader IT environment can seem challenging, but the potential benefits are significant. Data Quality Management solutions from Blazent can make the task of IT/OT integration easier, and enable your company to begin reaping the benefits sooner. Learn about the potential pitfalls to avoid with IT and Operational Technology Convergence in Blazent’s video here.