The convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT)


Operation Technology (OT) supports physical value creation and manufacturing processes.
It therefore comprises the devices, sensors and software necessary to control and monitor
plant and equipment. Information Technology (IT), on the other hand, combines all necessary
technologies for information processing. During the last decades, most industries have developed and managed OT and IT as two different domains, maintaining separate technology stacks, protocols, standards, governance models and organizational units. However, over the last few years, OT has started to progressively adopt IT-like technologies. IP (Internet Protocol), for example, is gaining acceptance as an all-purpose networking protocol and Windows™ is more and more frequent in a wide range of devices. The convergence of IT and OT will bring clear advantages to companies including cost and risk reductions as well as enhanced performance and gains in flexibility.

A prerequisite to achieving these benefits is that strategic, organizational and technological
challenges are mastered. Implementing what could be called IT/OT convergence, i.e. the end-toend
management of IT and OT, successfully implies that IT and OT Strategies are harmonized,
common governance and process models are installed, security and data are managed
centrally and resources are re-skilled to understand and know the requirements of both
disciplines.
Change Management is required to ensure that the implementation process runs smoothly
accompanied by consequent stakeholder management and open communication. In addition,
the implementation of a joint IT/OT concept has to be step-by-step to demonstrate short-term
benefits to all parties involved.

The reasons for IT services players to engage in IT/OT convergence are centered on business
impact, i.e. the commercial opportunities that IT/OT creates for industrial customers. The value
add can only be assured if challenges like pressures on production cost or a reduction in time
to market for newly developed products, for example, can be mastered. IT/OT also opens up
additional business to the mutual benefit of customers and vendors by defining and marketing
new offerings including IT/OT strategy and governance consulting – or a solution that manages
the transition of a product between R&D and operations.

The following defines a concept of what an integrated IT/OT landscape could look like.
Elements dealt with include:
-The development of production networks as well as the inherent separation of office (Office-
IT) and production IT (Enterprise IT)
-The reasons companies should think about IT/OT convergence
-The strategies that lead to a successful convergence, addressing strategic, organizational and
process-related challenges
-The opportunities that IT/OT convergence provides to different industries and their
operations
-Future opportunities for industrial companies stemming from the optimization of their IT/OT

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