Effective IT/OT Convergence Needs Strong Supporting Software and a Change in Executive Management Structure

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By James Prestwood | 2Q 2022 | IN-6520

IT/OT convergence is an essential element of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing. The need is made ever more pressing by the lack of digitally-able labor available. Platforms like Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada Industrial DataOps and Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, powered by PTC, can help speed up the integration of IT and OT operations and, alongside a change in management structure, reap greater benefits from digital investments.

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IT/OT Convergence Is Critically Important for Industry 4.0


Effective integration of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) departments is essential for manufacturers to succeed in their digital transformation endeavors. Two departments, working with disaggregated data, with different operational objectives, complicates the deployment of digital solutions. The case for greater collaboration is even more compelling when augmented by the reality of a small and contested digitally-able labor force.

Platforms that ease and accelerate the integration of IT/OT data are necessary for digital transformation initiatives to succeed. The lack of available digital talent due to strong competition from technology companies means that manufacturers need to be more efficient with their scarce labor resources. While 20 years ago, an engineering graduate might have been enthralled with the idea of working for ExxonMobil or Dow, they now covet a position at Google or Amazon.

Two examples of such platforms are Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada Industrial DataOps and Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk InnovationSuite powered by PTC. These platforms, alongside the transition to a more cohesive executive management structure in the digital space of a manufacturer’s operations, will ensure greater successes in transitioning toward fully-fledged Industry 4.0 manufacturing.

A Deeper Look into the Platforms


Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada Industrial DataOps portfolio was first introduced in 2021 and contains data management and analytics software designed to help manufacturers identify, manage, and use data. Importantly, the portfolio allows manufacturers to onboard OT data from manufacturing systems and combine these data with IT data. An example is combining the data from industrial control systems, such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) data. This combination would allow manufacturers to identify whether increased output for an extended time is likely to result in production interruptions caused by a shutdown and whether this is more cost efficient than slower production that keeps lines moving consistently. Recent updates to the Lumada Industrial DataOps portfolio enable manufactures to reduce the time required to find and integrate data from multiple sources, including edge and multi-cloud environments.

Similarly, FactoryTalk InnovationSuite offered by Rockwell Automation and powered by PTC, launched in 2018, allows manufacturers to collect and consolidate IT and OT data. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are used to automate and simplify data gathering from across an organization in real time. A key feature is the centralized dashboard that provides the required data across a range of elements in the manufacturing production chain. This lens can also be tailored to an employee’s given role to allow access to data specific to the context of their role. This means that, even if OT and IT teams are acting independently of each other, they are still drawing from the same collective data source that integrates both bodies’ relevant data.

A Coalesced Executive Management that Focuses on Integration


Manufacturers must take note of both their executive management structure and data usage, and take significant steps toward deepening the connection between the IT and OT elements of their organization. Those that do will find themselves to be winners in the digital transformation process, as they will be able to better use the valuable data at their disposal, and thus see greater returns on their investments. Using Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions, such as Lumada Industrial DataOps and FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, is important, as acceleration of IT/OT data convergence to support workers’ analytics, alongside a refocused executive management, helps bring manufacturing processes into the Industry 4.0 space. An example use case is that of HAINBUCH, a company that manufactures clamping devices, which used Lumada Data Integration and Analytics as a solution to holistically analyze data across the entire company, providing management with easy and fast access to information. A core element was the automation of its data loading process, which led to analytics being performed on the most up-to-date data without the need for manual updating.

As more OT devices become connected, the need for tighter collaboration among IT and OT departments will only become greater. The increasing popularity of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) role shows the increasing importance of digital OT asset management in manufacturing. However, the creation of the CDO role also shows that OT and IT are being further separated, with two different executive heads, the CDO and the Chief Information Officer (CIO), both with their own department goals and targets. It is also often the case that the CDO role is occupied by a younger generation, whereas CIO positions tend to be held by more established industry workers, potentially leading to further disconnect.

ABI Research recommends that manufacturers consider a dual-disciplinary Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to oversee the complex implementation of digital transformation strategies and solutions. In the case of IT/OT integration, the goal of this executive management should be the effective integration and upskilling of both IT and OT teams, including each developing an understanding of the other’s operating conditions, structure, and needs. A CTO that clearly understands the needs and workings of both departments can design a strategy that brings the two together and account for technology development in each body’s domain, and how such technology interacts within the holistic digital architecture that manufactures are aiming to build, that of Industry 4.0. Digital programs driven by CIOs or IT-leaning CTOs are likely to be unbalanced and not appropriately designed to include growing OT infrastructure. The implementation of this new CTO, married with the use of IIoT solutions, will put manufacturers in a far stronger position to engage with their digital transformation ambitions than if they merely continue with the current executive status quo and IT/OT data silos.