IT / OT Convergence - realizing the benefits of a connected enterprise
By: SGN Staff
By Michael Sing
The concept of the connected enterprise is based on the use of open IT standards as a means of connecting devices, equipment, processes and systems in a way that promotes transparency and interoperability across the enterprise. Although the connected enterprise leads to substantial benefits around access to information and timeliness of its delivery, filling up many hard drives with information does not allow a business to realize the full benefits of a productive, profitable and sustainable enterprise.
To attain the position of being a productive, profitable and sustainable enterprise, companies need to ensure that beyond connectivity and interoperability, the areas of information management and culture and change management are addressed. Information management is a widely used term but in this context information management refers to the following:
- Where the information comes from. It is critical for companies to ensure that their information originates from sources that are trusted and validated. Invalid or mistrusted information can be harmful and impact decision making.
- Who are the users of the information and why do they need it? Because there are many different users across the enterprise with varying roles and responsibilities, it is essential to determine their requirements in order to implement the How.
- How are the different users in the enterprise going to achieve their roles and responsibilities and benefit from the large volumes of available information? In other words what are the tools, applications or services required to process and analyze the information in order to gain valuable insight or to make better decisions?
Implementing new or enhancing existing information management systems often requires considerable change within an organization. The organization’s structure, processes and procedures and even roles and responsibilities need to transform into order to realize the benefits provided by such systems. With heightened visibility and better insight of enterprise operations, new ways of collaboration between previously isolated groups need to be established. In order for this transformation to stick, whereby benefits are realized continuously, and not just through the honeymoon period, organizations have to invest in effective change and culture management. New systems and tools by themselves are not enough, the users have to be educated on how to use them effectively and to see them as a benefit to themselves and hence their organization.
The journey for organizations to realize the benefits of the connected enterprise is a complex one. The first step is adopting and implementing open IT standards across the enterprise from the top floor to the shop floor to increase connectivity and interoperability. As mentioned, managing the information and the organization’s readiness are essential in ensuring the transition from a connected enterprise to the productive, profitable and sustainable enterprise.
Michael Sing is Marketing Director of Mining Metals and Minerals for Schneider Electric.