IT-OT convergence has been the cornerstone of the success of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) initiatives, more widely known as industry 4.0. The advances in operational technology (OT) to monitor and manage various industrial equipment, assets, services, and events across the value chain have highlighted vast potential. Many new, innovative use cases are being developed to optimize business processes and deliver exponential business transformation. That, coupled with the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Technologies, Big Data analytics, and the advancements in 5G technology, are bolstering the integration of OT with IT systems and processes, creating superior business value. With 500 billion devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2030, the convergence is positioned to deliver in-depth and actionable data insights. Those rich insights will not only make existing business processes more operationally efficient but will also augment customer and employee experience while driving top-line growth.
In this blog, we have listed some real-life use cases cutting across industries, which we found particularly interesting, where IT-OT convergence is delivering significant business transformation.
Excelling in an Experience Economy
With the widespread adoption of smart and wearable tech, consumers across the globe are becoming more connected than they ever were and are demanding seamless digital experiences spanning their personal and professional space. The rapidly evolving end consumer expectations have many a CEO looking for ways to gain a competitive edge in engaging their patrons and prospects. In the B2C space, Amazon has been a pioneer in experimenting with leading-edge customer engagement models. When the technology giant introduced consumer devices for smart homes, powered by Alexa—the company’s proprietary virtual assistant AI technology—it led to a smart home revolution. In the next step, the company is scaling up by empowering customers to reorder supplies or replaceable parts by interacting with Alexa. Automated replenishment will completely change the way we buy fresh produce and groceries, replace inks in our printers, or order new batteries for our equipment.
Similarly, workplace experiences are taking center stage with employers making every effort to engage their technology-savvy workforce. A large part of delivering a superior employee experience is simplifying and automating everyday work-related tasks. Case in point: preemptive and proactive management of hardware assets assigned to employees. Companies, every year, spend significant time and effort in monitoring their IT infrastructure inventory, which involves complicated spreadsheets, redundant manual effort, and high personnel costs. Furthermore, manual processes are prone to errors and can cause avoidable work interruptions for employees using the assets. Imagine a scenario where hardware and software assets could be traced in real-time with minimal manual intervention using sensor technology and radio frequency identification (RFID) asset tracking. As employees move in, and out of the employer’s facilities, IT assets and peripherals are tracked, and alerts are sent to the IT teams if any issues are detected. For instance, a user may be able to track a misplaced laptop charger or get notified if the device is moved away from them in a public place to prevent theft. Such use cases exemplify not only a future-ready workplace but also present ways in which companies can drastically improve the employee experience.
Achieving Operational Excellence for a healthy Bottom-line
Most organizations either already use OT assets in some shape or form to optimize their operational efficiencies or are on their journey toward OT implementation. Consider this: The use of real-time data from OT is playing a critical role in enabling unified management of utilities. By leveraging data from the transport network and feeding it into outage management applications, utility companies can reduce downtime and boost service assurance. Outage data can further be mapped to the customer relationship management (CRM) application to identify impacted customers who can be sent timely updates and proactive communications, resulting in better customer satisfaction. Moreover, through the automation of troubleshoot ticketing, outages can be recorded instantly, and maintenance specialists can be assigned automatically, reducing the mean time to resolve (MTTR).
Driving Top-line growth through Competitive Differentiation
The application of IT-OT convergence to power business growth can be exemplified through the widespread use of telematics for redefining traditional insurance business models. Startup and technology-enabled insurers in many parts of the world are offering pay-per-mile insurance products. By reading mileage data from the on-board diagnostics port, the insurer can better price risks and pass on the benefit to the policyholder. Such innovative product offerings are helping insurers capture a broader policyholder base and stay ahead of the competition.
Another trend playing out in the insurance space is that of add-on services. Roadside assistance has emerged as a complementary offering to auto insurance, which is witnessing a digital revolution of its own. On-demand roadside assistance platforms are sprouting up, that relay the GPS location of a policyholder in distress, find the best-positioned service provider partner available for repairs or car rentals, and facilitate service dispatch. In this space, we have also seen aftersales service providers stepping up to provide preemptive care to vehicle owners who do not have a connected vehicle but are willing to pay a premium for the connected services without changing their vehicle.
Going forward, as companies invest in enterprise-wide programs to harness the potential of OT data with advanced IT infrastructure, they will need to pay considerable attention to securing OT and IT assets. Cybersecurity will no longer be an IT issue, with millions of physical assets being connected to the internet for collecting real-time operational data. Therefore, putting in place a dynamic and holistic security roadmap will help companies realize the benefits of IT-OT convergence and drive their strategic objectives to fruition while minimizing the risks associated with security threats and breaches.