DailyPost 1762

On the face of it everything seems to seamlessly run and produce what it should produce. Once you get a little deeper, you will be able to find problems cropping up, which you would be able to make out as a technologist. Once you get into long discussions with the cutting-edge operational techies, precisely the main users of the industrial control systems, numerous pain areas come to the fore. The story which comes to the fore, before getting the detailing of what needs to be done, is that software both on the IT or the OT side is riddled with the idiosyncrasies of the vendor. Necessarily, the vendors are busy with doing only business; customization even as superficial level, licensing issues, incompatibility, inconsistent tech upgrade adds to the level of complexity of the real user.

The challenge is to meet all requirements and goals with all these handicaps intact. That is the real challenge. The operations and reporting, decision making and planning become two distinct areas of work. While relevant information should flow seamlessly into the other system, more often than not, it does not happen. At the top level, we can say that lack of integration of IT and OT is still one of the reasons which comes in the way of seamless ICS, delivering all the output out of an IT system; SAP or any other system. There are chances that there can be more than one time of ICS system used. One industry operating on variety of ICS with differential ages and getting connected to SAP type ERP is a challenge which should have become the norm by now.

Boasting of use cases of this industry and that industry and list of clients and locations, the use cases now should revolve around; how they have been able to deal with the pain areas, how they have been able to create a functional successful strategy and implementation out of the systems available and  how they have been able to do away with manual intervention in data creation manually. These and other such issues are the focus of the day and tom-tomming about mere literal implementation does not help. While the complexity of the systems keeps increasing while the industry grows, the capability to handle this complexity is the expertise which the industry is looking for.

What they have singularly failed in both on IT and OT software is the confidence building of the techies who use it at cutting edge / functional level. They also seem to have erred on the capacity building part enabling the tool to be used  better. The handholding mandatory training and handing over the system and vanishing has not helped. Then it is the ticket raising game. The company trains its own people, their functional capability can be the only benchmark. There are areas which are not covered digitally in the process; the activity gaps we can call it and there also areas where system to system data transfer happens manually. There can also be reports; quality assurance for example, where they may have to cull out information even now in a conventional manner. Both the IT /OT have a long way to go way to do the magic of a smooth ICS with IT broadly integrated.


Sanjay Sahay

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