How to integrate OT and IT for maximum business value - 5 minutes read

By Ganesh Bukka, Vice President & Global Head, Industry 4.0, Hitachi Digital Services

Data is supposed to unlock operational efficiency and productivity. Too often, it instead leaves businesses feeling handcuffed and unable to act on the sheer volume of information they generate. With IoT and the edge producing floods of operational technology (OT) data, and ever-more-sophisticated data collection and analytics feeding information technology (IT) systems, more and more companies are seeking ways to integrate these two crucial streams. OT and IT integration can enable business agility, optimize operations, help businesses hone their competitive edge, and inform decision-making so they can quickly seize emerging business opportunities.

But, integrating OT and IT is a massive undertaking, and few businesses have the in-house resources to achieve this holy grail of data enablement. The challenges cut across industries: Organizations in the energy, rail, and manufacturing segments feel the urgency of integrating the data from these two sides of the house to increase their visibility and better manage the data life cycles of critical assets.

That's why Hitachi recently announced the formation of Hitachi Digital Services, a division of the tech giant that has been launched to help organizations across diverse industry segments address these real-world challenges. With its Hitachi Application Reliability Centers, Hitachi Digital Services brings a strong record of success in helping organizations integrate OT and IT to benefit the companies and end consumers they serve. 

Data integration supports intelligent decision-making, which in turn supports business continuity

The real-world perspective is essential because this is not a theoretical discussion. It's an actuality that plays out in real-time every day at every manufacturing and power plant and within every corporate asset — systems, equipment, and facilities worth millions, if not billions, of dollars. Despite that value, organizations struggle to efficiently anticipate when those assets will require maintenance, when they are on the brink of a breakdown, or when a failure will shut down the power grid. Cybersecurity threats introduce an additional level of complexity to the equation.

With all those factors to consider, businesses must have a network of complex subsystems equipped with advanced sensors, sophisticated protocols, and precise monitoring capabilities in place. These solutions must optimize efficiency, productivity, and business continuity by integrating and harmonizing data. Companies must also ensure interoperability among their legacy and newer-generation technology and extend connectivity across business-enabling applications like product life cycle management, manufacturing, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and supply chain systems. Only when all these variables are addressed can their data be a resource they can access, interpret, and act on to avert problems and meet production timelines.

Realize OT and IT integration with an industry-experienced partner

Achieving that level of performance requires the intelligent integration of OT and IT. The convergence of OT and IT integration is bucketed into three streams:

Integration of physical and digital systemsOT and IT data integrationOT and IT workflow integration

The depth of integration expertise required is beyond the scope of what most companies have available in-house — and many companies lack collaboration between business and IT units. Even businesses with robust OT and IT departments often find that members of each team struggle to incorporate the other's perspective into their approaches to building an integrated solution.

Through its Hitachi Application Reliability Centers, Hitachi Digital Services provides an external partner with industry-specific experience to facilitate, simplify, and manage the process of aligning all these considerations. Hitachi Digital Services teams have collaborated with customers on industry cloud accelerators that harmonize data and create a common data architecture. That's essential because even when businesses struggle with what they perceive as a unique data integration scenario, the underlying problems are often universal. That means that with the right partner, there is often an existing, use case–driven, proven solution and framework that can be customized to their challenges and specifications.

By collaborating with that partner, organizations can optimize the collection, integration, and enrichment of information across the whole data life cycle. A skilled and experienced partner can also help the business develop a mature data culture that respects and incorporates OT and IT that might otherwise be left in competition and conflict. Once there is a meaningful data culture with organization-wide data governance, the business has a foundation to build a reliable system of operations to run the enterprise.

The result of this intelligent integration between OT and IT can be game-changing. Some benefits that businesses have realized by integrating through Hitachi Application Reliability Centers include:

Harmonization of the OT application landscapeReduction of technical debt in the OT landscape for next-gen technologyOperational flexibility in assets and manufacturing systems with edge and cloud operationsThe ability to design, implement, and run OT and IT workloads, reliably and seamlessly, from edge to cloudReal-time visibility into asset performance, production planning, scheduling, supply chain management, and moreData integration of ERP and similar IT systems with operational technology systems and processes for a holistic view of operations across the enterpriseEnablement of predictive maintenance, process optimization, system reliability, and moreThe ability to keep up with the pace of industry changesPhysical and digital convergence with improved resiliency and availabilityAn increase in sustainable practices with a reduced carbon footprint and improved resource allocation across operations

By enabling all these benefits and more, OT and IT integration can help organizations achieve the greatest possible business value from their data.

Learn more about how Hitachi Digital Services partners with companies to integrate OT and IT and empower informed decision-making.

This post was created by Hitachi Digital Services with Insider Studios. 


Source: Business Insider

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