IT OT Convergence Strategy

An Important Trend In Industrial Companies

Steven Lerner

IT OT Convergence Strategy

Industrial sectors are among the leading industries in digital transformation, with a solid IT OT convergence strategy propelling theses technological innovations. It is one of the most common trends today in manufacturing, logistics, and smart cities.

On the surface, there is some crossover between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in an industrial enterprise. However, there has traditionally been one area that has served as wedge between IT and OT: security.

When it comes to security, IT has always been focused on protecting data and keeping out potential security threats. OT, on the other hand, has been tasked with protecting workers and equipment, as well keeping up with productivity. These opposing focuses could be detrimental, which is why a convergence is needed.

The convergence of IT and OT is an organization’s ability to integrate both systems in order to improve companywide security effort and to increase efficiencies. With the emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), this has become a major focal point in digital transformation.

Why Is A Good IT OT Convergence Strategy Important?

It is critical for industrial enterprises to connect the data found in traditional IT systems with the operational systems. Often, this includes integrating data within supply chains.

First, this integration enhances security efforts. With more connected devices in an industrial enterprise than ever before, it is vital that robust security policies are established and enforced throughout all operations.

Scalability is another advantage to this integration. There are new opportunities in the industrial world, including new revenue possibilities, and industrial businesses must be able to get to market quickly in order to succeed. Without the convergence of IT and OT, then both areas will be separated by silos. This also limits the purchasing power when it comes to acquiring new technologies.

Converging both IT and OT enables an enterprise to achieve long-term cost savings. There are lower administrative expenses and operational costs that can be attributed to this strategy.

More importantly, the integration of IT and OT will increase collaboration. This will help IT become more aligned with general business goals in the same way that OT is already adjusted to. IT can ensure that all data systems are fully coordinated with day-to-day business operations.

Putting Security First

Security across the network should serve as the foundation for a successful IT OT convergence strategy. In order to achieve this, it is imperative that organizations facilitate a cross-company support network with leaders from both IT and OT who can address the most significant security challenges.

Training is important across both IT and OT, especially as it regards potential security threats. There should be policies in place that focus on incident management. Leaders must ensure that firewalls and servers are updated to handle sophisticated attacks.

One area to focus on is with the segmentation between IT and OT. Segmentation must be secured and accounted for by conducting frequent testing.

Don’t Neglect IoT

Industrial enterprises have embraced IoT devices so much that that market is expected to surpass over $700 billion by 2021. These devices are being used by manufacturers to make sense out of data in real-time, and they have enabled the growth of smart factories.

In terms of the convergence of IT and OT, these devices make it easier to remotely track operations in real-time. This includes updated data about diagnostics and the network infrastructure. The right IT OT convergence strategy allows for more operational activity to be tracked in real time.

Getting Started

Integrating IT and OT might seem like a daunting task, but it actually easy to get started. The first step is to create a cross-functional team comprised of IT and OT employees, and to identify areas that need assistance. This could include devices, security issues, and network infrastructure challenges.

By exchanging ideas across departments, members of IT and OT will be able to fix critical business issues faster. The convergence of IT and OT is the first step that industrial companies take in order to achieve digital transformation.