Companies that succeed at bringing IT and OT together have several factors in common: They have the real-time visibility that OT provides. Their IT systems involved in planning have transparency throughout all levels of the organization. They have business processes and governance in place to leverage the data, make decisions and communicate across all levels of the organization. They watch for how business decisions will impact customers, as well as corporate objectives.
This list of attributes comes from Dassault Systèmes’ Eric Green, one of many sources we interviewed for this issue’s cover story. Green appears on the cover, along with Rachel Lecrone of Cummins, Bart Weihl of GE, and Steve Hanna of Microsoft.
In manufacturing, they explain, integrating OT and IT is no longer an option for companies that want to stay in business. “It’s a requirement to be competitive,” Weihl said. [The urgency we heard in his voice inspired us to rewrite some of the Beatles song "Come Together”—and to put on a talent contest, offering some sweet prizes: Sing your heart out: www.SME.org/talent.]
So here’s more on what peace between the warring factions looks like:
When IT and OT work well together, it often plays out in one of two scenarios: Scenario No. 1: IT and OT continue as two separate departments but are tightly aligned with a common set of processes and standards. Scenario No. 2: IT and OT are combined into one department under one VP of technology. Teams are organized to facilitate collaboration and quickly take advantage of changing market conditions.
Building bridges via people, processes and programs can help. Walking in each other’s shoes or at least in each other’s paths builds understanding. Not interested in putting people from each side in the same department? An alternative is to rotate people from IT through OT and OT through IT.
Make sure one person manages the integration.
Equally important is to find or develop “line blurrers.”
“Sometimes I feel like an interpreter,” Weihl said. “There are a couple of us within the organization who do this. It is exceptionally useful if there is someone who can bridge the IT/OT sides and act as an intermediary. Some of the businesses I have seen move the fastest within GE have a subject matter expert who is a bridge between the two, blurring the line between OT and IT. It’s amazing to be able to be the bridge between them. I’m like a kid in a candy store.”