IT and OT teams are converging. While that brings a great opportunity to enhance security and impart best practices learned from each team, there are inherent challenges to IT/OT integration as each works together to achieve its goals. We discussed this convergence and challenges associated with it in a previous post. As the worlds of IT and OT collide, the need to understand each other and work together effectively to achieve business goals and security is an important focus.
Knowing how best to leverage each team’s experience, as well as navigate the differences, will help you overcome the typical challenges that these two teams run into when working together. That’s why today we’re discussing strategies and best practices to follow for IT/OT integration so you can avoid the common setbacks that you might run into and can hit the ground running.
IT/OT Integration Best Practices
Leverage the Strengths of Each Team
IT has worried for years about controlling access and the security of the network. While OT systems are now converging and coming online, IT teams can impart their learnings and expertise that they have accrued over years of concerns about protecting the network. This is especially important as OT, running on old systems with limited security features, could easily be compromised without adequate protection.
While IT can help OT teams get a quick start in protecting their assets, OT teams can help IT in another important area: disaster recovery. OT teams constantly think about uptime and recovery, and what to do in the worst-case scenarios. This is something OT teams are always accounting for and ready to address.
Leveraging each team’s particular strengths in approaches to managing or avoiding certain outcomes is one of your greatest advantages to IT/OT integration as you benefit from each team’s deep knowledge and approaches.
Avoid Efficiency-breaking Silos
Many challenges these teams face are exacerbated by management silos. As convergence and changes to technology bring IT and OT teams closer together, this challenge will become even greater. When these two teams are funded differently, and reporting to different management, their goals and approaches will naturally differ from each other in ways that are inefficient for the organization. Recognizing that these teams have their own needs and goals, while also defining the ways in which they can cross collaborate without hindrance from these silos, will make for much stronger security and collaboration between your IT and OT teams.
To allow for better cooperation in your IT/OT integration, removing these barriers will enable you to work efficiently. Having the security and compliance person be the same on the IT and OT side, for example, could help remove a barrier. Or having these individuals on the IT and OT side working together and communicating with each other, will enable efficiencies and avoid worsening silos that could arise as the teams come together.
Share Knowledge, Training and Technology to Increase Productivity
It won’t always be possible to share tools across teams during your IT/OT integration. In the cases that it is possible, you should pursue it. The cost of training employees on various tools and maintaining all of them can be considerable. This can be worsened when an employee who knows the technology intimately leaves. Merging tools where possible and pooling the knowledge of your teams will facilitate better productivity and efficiency, while diminishing the complexities of your supply chain.
What’s especially good about following this practice is that you address three potential challenges at the same time. The threat of brain drain, when a few very important employees that know the technology well leave, fewer intricacies in your supply chain, and heightened productivity as more employees can leverage your investments in technology more effectively.
IT/OT Integration is Important to Get Right
As IT/OT teams integrate further, prioritizing and planning an effective implementation and integration of IT systems with OT assets will bring better results to your business efforts. Struggling to do this effectively will result in inefficiencies from management silos, misalignment and misunderstandings between teams and trouble leveraging your investments.
ConsoleWorks is an effective solution for your IT/OT integration, with IT and OT teams using it everyday to meet their security needs. If you have any questions about how you can leverage ConsoleWorks for your IT/OT integration, talk to us here.