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Webinar rewind: Getting the ‘Ts’ to get along

April 11, 2024
Rewatch Kimberly Cornwell of Siemens and Tim Gaus of Deloitte helping Smart Industry figure out how technology people in OT and IT can bust barriers—by transcending job titles, breaking silos, and merging their missions—toward the goal of success for their manufacturing companies’ digital transformation efforts.

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During this Smart Industry webinar on April 11, we delved into the differences between IT and OT mindsets at manufacturing companies, which job titles and people tend to populate each, why in the past they have been “siloed,” and their missions have been apart (if not at odds), and what can be done—both in terms of projects and technologies but also culture—to bring them together.

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A possible reason for the disconnect: IT professionals operate in a 9-5 world, while OT is a 24/7 operation. IT functions with standard help desk tickets and network troubles that are addressed in a timely fashion in the order they are received. Not so in OT's world. Downtime can happen at any time, meaning lost production that can translate into lost revenue by the minute. Downtime doesn’t ever seem to happen “on the clock.”

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When it comes to ways to converge OT and IT, to find common ground, there’s no one size that fits every manufacturing organization, said Kimberly Cornwell, one of the guests on the program, consulting application engineer at Siemens, and an OT veteran. Convergence isn’t easy, Cornwell said.

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“IT isn’t even in the same building or the same country. They are far removed from the plant floor,” she noted. “They are not going to start scattering those people all over the country and embedding them at the plant. I do like the idea, however. Cross-training has to occur between the two organizations. It’s vital for IT to understand how they’re impacting the OT floor space.”

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“If this was an easy question to answer, we wouldn’t be talking today,” said Tim Gaus, another guest on the April 11 SI event and smart manufacturing leader and principal at Deloitte Consulting.

When it comes to finding common ground in a convergence project, Gaus advised during the webinar: “Make sure [they both know] what you’re trying to solve, what you’re trying to tackle. Don’t leap to structure as your first move. It’s all technological, cultural, and structural. Technology forces you to partner to get some things done.”

Please take some time to view the video because the discussion, moderated by SI Managing Editor Scott Achelpohl, was spirited and very informative.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl

I've come to Smart Industry after stints in business-to-business journalism covering U.S. trucking and transportation for FleetOwner, a sister website and magazine of SI’s at Endeavor Business Media, and branches of the U.S. military for Navy League of the United States. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism with many years of media experience inside and outside B2B journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit Smart Industry and report and write all kinds of news and interactive media on the digital transformation of manufacturing.