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What does IT-OT convergence mean and is it safe?

The overall drive to converge IT networks with OT networks is the valuable insights extracted to improve safety, uptime, maintenance, regulatory and compliance, analytics, and performance. Together, these components help to drive a business’s competitive position in its marketplace. If this sounds a lot like Industry 4.0, you would not be wrong. 

As defined, Industry 4.0 is akin to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where traditional industrial and manufacturing practices are being upgraded to include smart processes being completed by smarter devices. These devices are emboldened to make process decisions that allow for improved metrics such as:

• Manufacturing processes

• Improved uptime

• Timely maintenance

• Data-driven analytics, and ultimately,

• Competitive business positioning

But more importantly, this convergence allows for big data to be shared across the entire enterprise where it can be used to streamline an entire supply chain, improve workers safety and reduce accidents on the manufacturing floor, and allow for traditionally IT-based ERP, CRM, and other IT platform to lend value to what was once a segmented portion of the enterprise.

What does this look like when properly, securely, and optimally achieved?

Imagine a manufacturing line autonomously deciding to notify an SAP platform that it is running low on plastics it uses to blow bottles two weeks in advance. Sounds simple? It’s not. The checks and balances needed, the securing of the data and the connections made, and the trust in allowing machine-to-machine decision-making are substantial, which is why IT-OT convergence and Industry 4.0 are tackled as a cross-functional task involving many stakeholders to get it right.