IT/OT convergence is usually a back-office phenomenon as it’s used for business-type transactions, but at this year’s Automation Fair in Chicago, the idea was very much at the surface through Rockwell Automation’s collaborative efforts with Cisco Systems (News - Alert).
IT/OT convergence isn’t a new idea, per se. Analysts say the benefits that come from managing IT and OT convergence, alignment and integration include optimized business processes, enhanced information for better decisions, reduced costs, lower risks and shortened project timelines.
What makes this collaboration rather unique? According to Automation World, the two companies “collaborate on products, services and educational resources to help manufacturers converge their network infrastructure and bridge the technical and cultural gaps between plant-floor and higher-level systems.”
But it hasn’t been without its challenges. Getting IT and OT systems to work together to maximize business efficiency while avoiding negative consequences, risks and pitfalls in the process makes the task more challenging.
“Central to achieving the Connected Enterprise is the convergence of IT and OT,” said Keith Nosbusch, Rockwell’s chairman and CEO, in a presentation to industry press, according to Automation World. “Historically, these have been two different worlds with different priorities, and base technologies. True convergence between these two worlds has been a challenge.
Despite challenges, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Gartner (News - Alert) calls the space between IT and OT the “sweet spot,” meaning it’s used to make better decisions, improve processes and develop new business models.
Process-management tools help ensure that every person, machine, sensor, switch and device in an organization has accurate information in the best form and at the right time.
Industries such as healthcare, transportation, defense, and energy, and manufacturing bode well when convergence is prevalent. Newer technologies are making IT/OT convergence possible, more practical, and creating opportunities for economic benefits.
With planning, ownership and clear communication among all of the groups and stakeholders, IT/OT convergence is possible with huge gains for the bottom line.
Edited by Maurice Nagle