Why Aligning Operational Technology and IT is inevitable
In its recent research paper Ascent Journey 2016, the Atos Scientific community considers the manifold challenges that the established leading industrial companies are facing nowadays, stemming from the globalization of markets and therefore the advent of new competitors mainly from emerging economies such as China. Since most of these companies are competing on price but also more and more on technology, innovation and time to market becomes an important issue for companies in industrialized countries. Therefore the question is how sustainable differentiation against these competitors can be achieved? The answer lies in the convergence of IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) with the latter supporting the physical value creation and manufacturing process whereas IT combines all necessary technologies for information processing.
Based on our experience in various industries and projects, we are convinced that IT/OT Convergence will not only be an option to improve operational excellence and therefore a company`s competitive position but it will become a “must” given the fact that competition from emerging countries will be increasingly technology-driven. A lot of enterprises suffer from the fact that product development, engineering and manufacturing are not well aligned and integrated. Nevertheless this is a prerequisite to keep oneself ahead of competition by being shorter with time to market with new products and keeping a product attractive over its lifecycle. The integration of PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and MES (Manufacturing Execution) Systems as part of an overall IT/OT Convergence provides the answer. Still a common “blind spot” on companies` system landscape it will substantially improve the suitability of products for manufacturing, speed up the ramp up of new product manufacturing and therefore increase the product availability on the market. Being on the market with an innovative product ahead of the competition is king, if you want to secure business volume and profit. The better alignment between R&D and Manufacturing will also allow for a steeper learning curve when it comes to (manufacturing) cost efficient product design and will therefore provide to stay ahead of competition when it comes to the cost position during the lifecycle of a product. PLM/MES integration is only one example of how IT/OT Convergence substantially impacts a company`s ability to compete.
So is the alignment of IT and OT inevitable ? From our perspective the answer is a clear yes, because it represents one of the few remaining opportunities to bring companies into better market and cost positions and thus stay ahead of the competition.