Recently, while considering the changing dynamic of manufacturing and the new metaverse of digital transformation, I was reminded of my surfing days back in the 1980s. How does that relate to something so far removed as the information technology (IT)/operational technology (OT) convergence of industrial platforms? Hear me out. Back in those days of carefree wave catching and beach combing, we would sometimes look to the surfers of the 50s, 60s, and even the 70s as the archaic athlete of the past. The surfboards were heavy and clunky, they were often twice as long, and the ability to perform any maneuvers on a wave was limited.
And yet today, surfing looks nothing like it did in the 80s. Surfboards (which are basically platforms for operators) are now light, maneuverable, and durable with space-age tech. Skills that were only dreamed of in my day are now expected. What we thought impossible is now standard in the sport.
Digital transformation today is like looking back to what was business as usual less than a decade ago and realizing the need to find the right tools to compete in the market. A large, clunky surfboard of 1950 wouldn’t do so well in a 21st century competition. Your team of experts, operators, and end users (the new digital surfers, if you will) might be similar. While the transformation of operations has accelerated through enabled data by enormous advancements in data collection, visualization, and enablement, the platform chosen today is critical to realized success.
The integration of the physical and virtual world is now. In this brave new world of the metaverse, transformational manufacturing is on the crest of this wave. But is your team all surfing that same IT/OT convergence wave together?
Having the Right IIoT platform for the Next Big Wave
It’s been several years now that we have been discussing the digital and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies that are driving innovations based on the convergence of embedded software, machine intelligence, and networked data collection and analytics.
However, your teams may not view this transformational innovation the same way. Digital innovation is driven by networks, software, data and analytics, enabling the integration and exchange of machine, operations and business data. Your workforce involved in each of these areas will have experience and skills in different processes and platforms—and different preferences for collecting and combining system data to diagnose, predict, visualize and optimize equipment, processes and events.
It’s as if the nose-riding surfers of the 50s are now witnessing the almost-gravity defying performances of the new generation in the sport or, in this case, data aggregation and enablement. And it is rapidly transforming over the course of only a few years, not decades.
Each stakeholder will have a reason to hold on to a platform—but not every platform is capable of real-time situational awareness and automated analysis. It’s time to get back into the line-up and catch these waves that are changing the manufacturing landscape now and for the future.
Big Wave Challenges
We can’t ignore the challenges these new waves are creating. Problem solving for new digital innovation and solution opportunities must address tough questions, like:
- How can an organization enable its workers, train them quickly, and make them believers against the old paradigm ‘it’s the way we always have done it?’
- Partners must be converted into believers and contributors as well. But how?
- Customers’ demands are greater than ever. How can we keep up with those demands?
- How can we make changes that can impact multiple functions and organizations and ultimately solve big challenges and create unique new solutions?
The digital platform that you adopt to address these challenges will reflect your internal culture, your external ability to deliver and your ability to compete in the metaverse of change. At Rockwell Automation, we believe that your focus should be on developing capabilities that expand your organization’s ability to move beyond core operating practices and leverage a more flexible mix of new approaches. In this way, you can determine the best mix and the most viable paths for developing new solution opportunities and riding that wave for years to come.
Platform Challenges Focus on Data, Insights, and Integration
An aging workforce and a radically shifting competitive landscape might easily be straining your capability to maintain your advantage by capitalizing on digital transformation initiatives with a single platform that meets the needs of your IT and OT stakeholders.
When exploring the right platform, you should identify a solution that:
- Unites data from disparate and legacy OT systems while maintaining OT context after IT/OT convergence, seamlessly and rapidly.
- Establishes clear integration between your analytics and the people and systems with the authority to enact change.
- Plays well with existing in-house systems in place or future best-of-breed solutions in adjacent spaces, rather than forcing a rip-and-replacement.
- Offer incremental value from your pilot solution and accelerate rollout at scale.
- Empowers your workforce to take advantage of the data and has the ability to be impactful in real time.
It’s akin to looking out over those waves rolling into shore and being in the correct position to ride the big one without getting caught in a swirl of water and dashed back up onto the shore. You want to make the right choice the first time. Using a single platform, you can get better at spotting emergent trends and quickly responding. While your stakeholders have different priorities, they can agree that a purpose-built, pre-integrated software suite that accelerates IT/OT convergence will help extend insights in real time and establish a foundation to scale solutions across sites.
Once you’ve landed on the comprehensive set of capabilities you’ll need, your stakeholders are empowered to catch the wave of every digital transformation use case on a single platform with seamless enterprise scalability.
To learn more about how to choose the right platform, explore our IIoT resource library.