6 Myths about IT/OT Convergence

Mollie Breen
Mollie Breen
Dec 8, 2022

Four blocks combining to reveal a word. The first two blocks show the letters 'F', and 'A.' The second two blocks are tilted to show 'C' and 'T' or 'K' and 'E,' spelling 'FACT' or 'FAKE'

As technology continues to evolve, the lines between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) are beginning to blur. This phenomenon, known as IT/OT convergence, has led to many misconceptions about the way these two fields interact and how they will continue to evolve in the future. We explore six common myths about IT/OT convergence and dispel them once and for all.

Myth #1: IT and OT are completely separate fields.

One of the biggest misconceptions about IT and OT is that they are completely separate fields with little to no overlap. While it is true that these fields have traditionally operated independently from one another, the reality is that they are becoming increasingly intertwined. With 10M new devices connecting every day, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected technologies is forcing IT and OT to rely on one another in ways that were previously impossible. OT teams can now control equipment remotely instead of onsite. IT teams can now predict utilization and maintenance instead of reacting to business demands. IT is not overtaking OT, nor vice versa. Rather both are benefiting from sharing data and operating more efficiently.

Myth #2: IT/OT convergence implies a flat network architecture.

Some may think that as a result of IT/OT convergence and more connections between devices, networks will be flatter. While more connections will increase network complexity and make it harder to enforce access controls, that does not mean a company going through digital transformation will inevitably lead to a flatter network. One can still put in place network segmentation, but it will take more understanding of what the device is and how it is used.

Myth #3: IT/OT convergence is only relevant to certain industries.

Another common myth about IT/OT convergence is that it only affects certain industries or sectors. This is due to the fact that historically industries like manufacturing and energy had a dedicated OT environment. However, IT/OT convergence is relevant to almost every industry, from manufacturing and energy to healthcare and transportation. As the application of connected devices grows, every company will encounter IT/OT convergence. While industries that rely heavily on automation and real-time data analysis, such as manufacturing and energy, may immediately come to mind, industries such as retail or education are also taking advantage of IT and OT working together to improve customer and employee experiences.

Myth #4: IT/OT convergence is only about technology.

While it is true that IT/OT convergence is heavily influenced by technology, technology is not the only variable contributing to the speed of adoption. One of the biggest challenges of IT/OT convergence is the need for the people and their corresponding processes to work together effectively. Something as mundane as turning on a new IoT or OT device may need to go through both IT and OT stakeholders and their respective approval processes. To successfully scale IT/OT convergence across the business requires strong communication and collaboration between IT and OT teams. This means that IT/OT convergence is every layer of the business, cultural and organizational, in addition to technology.

Myth #5: IT/OT convergence is only a concern for large organizations.

Another common myth about IT/OT convergence is that it only affects large organizations with complex technology systems and that may even have the budgets to promote digital transformations in their marketing materials. In reality, IT/OT convergence is relevant to organizations of all sizes and with any size budget, from small companies with just a handful of connected devices to global enterprises. One of the first ways small companies adopt connected devices is through building automation systems and facilities systems such as security camera monitoring, which can have immediate savings in energy costs and equipment overhead. Moreover, continuing to improve efficiency and reduce the friction between IT and OT, regardless of how big the team, will provide long-term benefits to the business by reducing the risk of data breaches and other security threats.

Myth #6: IT/OT convergence is only a recent phenomenon.

Finally, some people believe that IT/OT convergence is a relatively recent phenomenon, brought about by the rapid development of new technologies such as IoT. In fact, the seeds of IT/OT convergence were planted decades ago, as organizations began to connect their OT systems to IT networks and systems. The growth of the internet and other connected technologies has accelerated the process, but IT/OT convergence has been happening for a long time.

In conclusion, IT/OT convergence is a complex and evolving phenomenon that is relevant to organizations of all sizes and across all industries. While there are many misconceptions about IT/OT convergence, the reality is that these fields are becoming increasingly intertwined and will continue to rely on one another in the future. By understanding the myths and the realities of IT/OT convergence, organizations can better prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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