Managing the successful convergence of information and operational technology

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The convergence of IT and OT (operational technology) is no recent phenomenon. Industrial control systems (ICS) have been connected to IT architecture, providing remote connectivity for real-time data and remote support for years. Yet with the fourth industrial revolution, IT and OT integration is changing the way we do business. As the two become increasingly integrated, managing the convergence and the risks, is now critical to realising competitive advantage.

In this article we dispel the myths and look to understand the principles behind the successful convergence of IT and OT. We uncover the unknown risks associated with IT / OT convergence, taking inspiration from Former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s statement (2002), to structure our thinking: "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don't know."

IT/ OT convergence is not a technical problem. The priority and challenge is in overcoming culture and governance issues, which are difficult to get right. As we face an ever-changing digital landscape, cyber leaders must ask themselves, how well do you know your ‘known unknowns’? How can you identify knowledge gaps around the convergence of IT and OT, and what questions do you, as a CXO or senior cyber professional, need to ask to get it right?

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