How to Leverage IDC’s IT/OT Convergence Trends
CBT hosted an expert panel with technology market expert International Data Corporation (IDC) on How IT/OT Convergence is Critical to Industry 4.0 Success. One takeaway is that partnering with the right technology providers empowers your company to leverage information technology and operational technology (IT/OT) convergence trends to stay competitive.
Industry 4.0 is a series of initiatives taken by companies to increase process efficiencies and allow for resilient, data-driven decision-making. Some of these initiatives include modernizing remote work and collaboration, predictive monitoring and diagnostics of operations and assets, next-gen process automation, augmenting decision making with data, and building a resilient and connected supply chain. All these initiatives rely on IT/OT convergence.
Framework for Industry 4.0
IDC uses the Industry 4.0 Continuum as a framework companies can follow to build resilient, data-driven operations. The baseline capability is digitization. Industries that use sensors in their systems, such as manufacturing and oil and gas, need to be extended with secure network connectivity to take advantage of new use cases for data.
The second set of activities centers around building out monitoring capabilities. Monitoring capabilities should be extended from assets to processes and even workers through remote digital interfaces.
Next, to perform diagnoses, raw data needs to be wrapped with contextual data to help answer questions and build out decision-making by identifying root causes around assets and processes.
Control capabilities come next in the framework. Control is a feedback loop that takes the insights gathered from data and feeds them back into configuring assets, processes, or worker training. Control is about driving action back into the operations.
Last, companies are looking to achieve more autonomous capabilities, which enable them to use predictive insights from data to orchestrate an asset or process using rules and events-based triggers, to have a more resilient and flexible operation.
Trend 1: Changing Goals
When looking for trends in Industry 4.0, IDC found that the top goal has shifted from security and safety in 2020 to achieving operational performance at a lower cost. The shift in goals shows that companies are ready to advance these initiatives and build strategic advantage by implementing these technologies. Since 2018, reducing expenses has also moved down the list of goals.
Trend 2: Shifting Investment Priorities
Investment priorities have also changed. Companies have been experimenting with IoT pilot programs for years and have since learned that edge and security will unlock the value of IoT initiatives. This will help drive cloud-based analytics and on-site decision-making while meeting operational requirements.
Today, companies are looking for a more realistic and grounded approach. Organizations are going back and fixing problems to be able to scale. A big part of that process is investing in the integration of IT and OT systems to contextualize and build these new technologies into the process itself.
Trend 3: New Top Challenges
The top challenges IDC identified are related to the complexity of the technology landscape, lack of staffing and skills to achieve these integrations and capabilities, and absence of a cohesive strategy across all the business technologies and processes. Industrial companies are as a result looking to partners and providers to help them overcome these barriers.
Expert Views on Industry 4.0 Trends
Initially, without IT/OT integration, companies looked at IoT as an experiment and didn’t see a return on investment. Now, organizations are looking for real-time data to help decision-making into their overall business process, not just the factory operations for energy or oil and gas. It’s a full 360-degree view. It takes an ecosystem of partners to solve the customer challenges for the integration points. The industry is now focused and democratizing the barriers to entry, such as skills gaps, so it’s become easier and less complex.
CBT has seen the tee-up and energy that has taken companies from ideation and fear of how to adopt Industry 4.0 to figure out how to take existing assets and skillsets and decide on priorities to reach a competitive advantage. These companies need the budget and reporting structure to develop a strategy.
Companies are moving away from experimentation to exploring use cases for these technologies. This is a typical evolutionary path in which early adopters experiment and prove the value and use cases to then bring an onslaught on the market.
The single biggest trend seems to be a movement away from asking “What is Industry 4.0?” to an understanding that it drives real and sustainable value. That is reflected in the finding that operational throughput drives these companies to pursue these technologies.
Now, there is urgency. Industry 4.0 has spread from a small cohort of early adopters to almost every company having an initiative. Everyone knows they need to embrace Industry 4.0 and that it will fuel the next wave of competitiveness. Enterprises are evolving from a sandbox mentality to a business-driven mindset that can drive transformational outcomes.
Learn more about how CBT can help your company leverage IT/OT convergence. Read about our IIoT Practice.