Blog · 21 May 2021

The evolving role of the C-suite in driving IT / OT convergence deployment

C-level executives have had to leave their old, entrenched positions and start collaborating across the company value chain.

Jan Burian
Head of IDC Manufacturing Insights EMEA

The manufacturing industry’s readiness and responsiveness is constantly being challenged by the disruptions brought about by the economic slowdown.

Manufacturers are turning their focus to building business and operational resilience, establishing flexible processes, and keeping the workforce safe and healthy. Digital technology has become essential, while Digital Transformation (DX) pillars, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, cloud-based services, and the convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) have become game changers.

Given this, C-level executives have had to leave their old, entrenched positions and start collaborating across the company value chain. The integration of IT and OT is a great example of where the two traditional worlds meet each other to provide massive value to the organisation.

DX is a process that consists of several layers. The most significant of these is the technology layer. However, without being properly underpinned with the organisation structure, which is another layer, the technology itself doesn't provide the expected benefits.

Looking closer at the pillars of digital transformation in manufacturing organisations, we can recognise several key C-suite stakeholders. These are sometimes called the digital dream team, as the success of DX significantly depends on these people and their teams. Their traditional focus on performance management and technology needs to continue to evolve and expand along with the DX world. According to IDC's Future of Work Survey, the majority of the C-suite in manufacturing are taking a broader responsibility in DX, actively driving change and bridging the organisational silos. This is extremely important as the integration of digital systems and tools covers processes end-to-end and requires knowledge of IT, OT, project management, integration, coding, data analysis, etc.

Understanding the roles and responsibilities in the context of digitisation makes the organisation resilient and much more transparent for internal stakeholders as well as suppliers, customers and technology partners.

Let's take a closer look at the challenges related to the deployment of the new digital solutions and system integrations and to what extent these are related to the organisation. According to IDC's IT / OT Convergence Survey, 27% of respondents said there was not enough familiarity with the concept of IT / OT integration across the organisation. Almost 30% of respondents also said that too many decision-makers and organisation complexity make the approval and deployment process complicated. This typically leads to half-way digital technology deployment projects that often go no further than a pilot as organisations fail to scale.

This is when external technology partners should step in, helping the digital dream team to design and deliver quality digital projects on time and within budget. Many organisations already benefit from working with an ecosystem of partners, IT vendors and system integrators.

The key element of success is then setting up the right roles and responsibilities on the client's side (the manufacturing organisation), setting up realistic expectations and targets, and finding the right technology partner.

For more information on the role of the CxO for factory operations and DX deployment, see the IDC InfoBrief Unboxing the "Black Box" — Turning Factory Operations Into a "Crystal Box"