The promise of the digital enterprise—of true transformation—is real, but only about a third of companies have started the journey.
"Technologies for integrating control and information are developing well," said Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Rockwell Automation. "The high performance architecture enables it. There is a lot happening from the technology front."
A panel discussion at Automation Perspectives, a press event hosted by Rockwell Automation in the run-up to Automation Fair this week in Atlanta, included methods on how to accelerate the digital journey for industrial companies and how to bridge the IT/OT gap faster. Cybersecurity, talent and hardware needs were also discussed.
The panel included representatives from two of the world’s leading companies in software and networking and a representative of a leading institution in engineering and cybersecurity research.
Chand asked the panel to identify what companies need to do to accelerate their digital transformation.
"A security culture is probably the most important thing for organizations to develop properly," said Francis (Bo) Rotoloni, deputy director of research and principle research engineer for the Information and Cyber Sciences Directorate, Georgia Tech Research Institute. "No matter what you do, you are still susceptible to being breached,” Rotoloni said.
“Companies need to understand their risk issues relative to the cyber landscape and the threat landscape. Security is not a check list. It's a program, it is training and it’s having your employees understand that one simple click can compromise the enterprise."
“The IT and OT need to work together, and manufacturing needs to help bridge that divide and work together hand in hand,” added Jeff Reed, senior vice president and general manager, Enterprise Infrastructure and Solutions, Cisco. "With the IT and OT divide, they tell you that the OT guys don't understand the IT departments, particularly related to security and infrastructure. The OT guys say the same thing about the IT side. They don't understand our requirements."
“Going back about 30 years ago when I worked in a 24/7 manufacturing environment, the IT enterprise guys did not understand the shop floor—the OT side of the equation,” said Rotoloni. “It was a lot of work to make them understand that they were part of the manufacturing processes and the real-time processes," he said. "The IT guys need to understand the real-time nature of running the shop floor. They also need to understand that IT and OT have a common enemy, the threat actor."
Another topic introduced by Chand was the technology evolution such as the cloud, analytics, big data and machine learning. "A lot of these technologies are changing the game in the sense that our expectations to value for these technologies has changed," said Chand. "We are not installing these technologies and waiting two or three years to derive value. The value should be in weeks or days."
Gone are the years of planning, years of implementation and hundreds of millions of dollars of IT projects, said Ҫağlayan Arkan, general manager of Microsoft’s worldwide manufacturing and resources sector enterprise and partner group. "In this environment, you are either the predator or the prey,” he said. "So start immediately: experiment and fail fast, start with the data, and start with your customer. To that end, the cycles have shortened to weeks. Start looking for the gold mine in the data, or you will be the prey.”
The cyber threat
Changing subjects, the panel discussed how cybersecurity is frequently talked about as an impediment and how the threat landscape changing. "We monitor the threat landscape on a daily basis," commented Rotoloni. "When new devices show up, such as a door bell that sends video of who is at your door, the first thing the bad guys do is try the most basic threats. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are examples of that,” Rotoloni said. “They go after the easy stuff. We see that in the industrial control system space. The attacks started out simple. As everyone gets better at defending against them, you'll see the malicious actors get more sophisticated in how the execute and deliver their attacks."
A final topic was about talent. "Talent is probably one of the most disruptive thing that we are going to see in the digital era for many reasons," noted Arkan. "The aging workforce is a major issue with knowledge and IP going away, and the younger generation is not looking to manufacturing as something they want to do.
“Second, there are new positions out there such as chief digital officers and data scientists that need to become a mainstream thing. Thirdly, reinventing education and on the job training will help people select the right profession. Due to automation and technology, there are going to be more jobs changing than new jobs created. It's a big issue with economic and social implications."
This article was originally published on ControlGlobal.com.