In this occasional series, we're bringing you a curated selection of recent articles on topics influenced by the automation community. International Society of Automation (ISA) members and blog readers have a wide range of interests and expertise, and we want to help shine a spotlight on the latest news and thought leadership coming out of some of these very different areas.
This entry in the series covers the growing need for information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) teams to work together in an increasingly connected world. The articles below were all published in August 2020.
It's often difficult for IT and OT teams to work together, even after years of industry discussions about the necessity of convergence. IT/OT transformation is largely an issue of culture—both teams must have a clear understanding of what convergence means in the context of their typical work day, and both teams must have faith that it will work. This article highlights the common challenges of IT/OT convergence and what can be done to overcome them.
A recent report from the Industrial Internet Consortium has gathered some recommendations for companies just beginning to incorporate advanced technology into their processes. One of the foundations of digital transformation is the internal integration of IT and OT. When IT and OT teams collaborate effectively, they learn each other's domain knowledge and understand each other's limitations and strengths. This approach can encounter resistance from both sides—but it can also lead to increased trust, innovation, and openness, as well as more meaningful interactions with customers.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer recently replaced legacy systems and processes scattered across various manufacturing sites with a single, shared enterprise system strategy. This has allowed the company to manufacture 3 million more product doses than predicted in 2019 and to train employees using remote augmented reality (AR) collaboration tools. A representative from Pfizer also says that digital transformation efforts have helped improve cycle time, manufacturing throughput/yield, and right-first-time quality. This article digs into the ongoing program and the results it has already seen.
4. The State of Security: "The Biggest Challenges and Best Practices to Mitigate Risks in Maritime Cybersecurity"
This article looks at IT/OT convergence in the maritime industry from the perspective of cybersecurity and the maritime cyber threat landscape. OT systems have unique challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. As IT and OT continue to integrate, maritime autonomous systems (MAS) may soon control ships remotely from the shore—adding the potential for new cyber threats.
(Note: The State of Security is managed by Tripwire, a founding member of the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance.)
"OT security has been a blind spot in many organizations for far too long," the author of this article maintains. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the gaps in OT cybersecurity as threats have multiplied. The lingering separation of IT and OT networks in many organizations poses a risk in itself. Still, there's hope: several leading-edge technologies promise to help mitigate many common OT security blind spots, such as zero-day attacks, fileless attacks, stack smashing, and more.
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