I recently read an interesting article describing the impact of IT-OT convergence on utility systems and operations. IT-OT convergence refers to the integration of data-centric information technology (IT) with the operational technology (OT) that monitors processes, such as an outage management system (OMS). For example, integrating the centralized OMS with advanced meters in the field could lead to more accurate outage statistics.
The article pontificates that this convergence will become increasingly important as more and more distributed energy devices take hold. In addition, as I read the article, it occurred to me that this is also very relevant for emergency planning. Why? Because deepening system integration should in theory create a lot of benefits when it comes to emergency restoration, such as enhanced employee safety, the development of more accurate restoration times or ETRs, quicker damage assessment, more efficient crew dispatching, better business intelligence, and more.
Best Practices for IT-OT Convergence
Three best practices to help manage this convergence are provided, all of which make a lot of sense. These are:
- Harness collective / multi-functional wisdom by ensuring that all the key players have a seat at the table
- Leverage a formal prioritization process that helps avoid all-encompassing goals that promote scope creep
- Make decisions holistically and not in a vacuum
For utility decision-makers, IT-OT convergence represents a different way of thinking about the world. As such, it will take time for the shift in mindset to take place. But sooner or later, all utilities will need to adapt to this new reality, or else risk getting left behind.