Executing Dynamic IT/OT Convergence Strategy Leverages Walking the Talk

By: Babette Ten Haken - Leave a comment


Executing IT/OT convergence strategy is a hot topic these days.

Well, let’s just say there are a lot of people talking the convergence talk. Walking that talk is another matter, isn’t it?

IT/OT convergence describes the integration of information technology (IT) systems used in data-centric computing with operational technology (OT) systems used to monitor events, processes and devices and make adjustments in enterprise and industrial operations.

What’s involved in executing IT/OT convergence strategy is an old issue cloaked in a new title and context.

On the one hand, we aren’t talking about ancient technological or operational history. Consider that only 6 years have passed since the creation of Industrie 4.0 (Germany) and the Industrial Internet Consortium was formed. Now think about how your own business has been impacted by the veritable tsunami of information, applications, sensor-generated data and hybridized information storage systems during that same time period.

As a result, the new context for executing IT/OT convergence strategy involves maintaining performance and stability at the speed of data. Not only do IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) dynamics cause no two IT (information technology) or OT (operational technology) workdays to be the same.  Also, the volume, velocity, variety, veracity and value of data alter how we predict, manage and stabilize performance.

However, the IT/OT interface is where the older issue meets the new, data-driven context.

In executing IT/OT convergence strategy, collective tolerances of existing systems, business models and organizational cultures are stretched. Within IIoT environments, data and industrial analytics become the common denominators, the fuel, running across the enterprise.

However, when these data are neither freely shared nor jointly analyzed, there is no relevant, valuable and innovative information generated.

As along as stratified professional and cultural models continue to encourage formation of data kingdoms, IT/OT convergence gets stalled. That is the old issue raising its ugly head within the new IIoT context.

Information hoarding within data silos more fiercely defended than any Game of Thrones sub-plot gets organizations stuck in yesterday mode. By the time you locate the data and information which was relevant yesterday, it’s already tomorrow and you are too late.

In addition, these old school business and cultural models prevent business units from truly understanding how IT/OT convergence creates competitive line of business value. The key to executing dynamic IT/OT convergence strategy happens via cross-functional, multi-disciplinary human dialogue which connect the C-Suite to the plant floor.

You see, in many cases, something hasn’t changed at all, or moved at nearly the speed of data generation. That “something” is organizational cultures and business models which perpetuate Us versus Them legacy workforce mindset.

This new IT/OT convergence context aggravates an old issue, doesn’t it? The IT and OT folks never quite got along splendidly, in the past. Now, industrial Internet of Things dynamics mandates that the children play nicely with each other.

First, Us versus Them mindset is an entrenched element of the first three Industrial Revolutions. There are entire corporations with workforces hired during the Third Industrial Revolution (computerization and automation). These workforces, both blue and white collar, have ingrained habits that literally impact the muscle memory and cognitive functions involved in executing daily performance.

Then, requiring these folks to facilitate digital transformation of the workplace, including IT/OT convergence, is a cold-turkey cultural move on the part of leadership. Walking the IT/OT convergence strategy talk throughout the workplace requires a roadmap, a timeline and cross-functional and innovative team members.

Ultimately, omitting the value of people in executing a dynamic IT/OT convergence strategy misses the IIoT mark. Machines and software cannot accomplish the entirety of this convergence on their own.

Realistically, organizations are not able to wave a magic wand and replace an entire workforce or legacy infrastructure and equipment.

Consequently, walking the IT/OT convergence strategy talk gets stalled and stuck spinning its wheels in cultural and technological mud.  As long as human capital strategy and human resources hiring practices remain stuck in “what worked yesterday,” there won’t be any forward progress and leadership in creating a relevant and valuable IT/OT convergence strategy.

Some organizations with whom I’ve spoken are waiting to form an entirely millennial workforce as “the IT/OT convergence solution.” These companies miss out on mining valuable tribal and cross-generational knowledge about legacy systems and processes. This tack represents one more excuse to sit this one out.

And let’s face it folks, the relentless pace and cadence of technology advances waits for no one. Complacency isn’t an option. Rather, the key to executing a dynamic IT/OT convergence strategy is capitalizing on old issues meeting new contexts. That’s the interface where innovation happens.

In my Playbook, executing dynamic IT/OT convergence strategy defines the voice of your organization’s internal dialectic. Walking the IT/OT convergence talk involves designing a strategic roadmap that captures and honors the mesh of legacy, tribal and emerging people, competencies, software, equipment and learning. There is nothing siloed in this approach, is there? What are your next steps?  

Topics: ,

About The Author

Babette Ten Haken

Founder & President, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC

Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six... Read More