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TECHNOLOGY

Why is IT and OT Convergence Important for IoT?

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Why is IT and OT Convergence Important for IoT?


IT and OT convergence comes with challenges and benefits for businesses but may be especially crucial for Internet of Things (IoT) integration.

They are often thought of as seemingly opposite departments and technologies. IT handles data, while OT handles devices. IT focuses more on business systems, while OT focuses on the physical operations of a business. 

Could bringing these two departments together spark benefits for businesses? IT and OT convergence can lead to greater efficiency, faster development times and better communication. However, it may also introduce new challenges. IoT has a unique relationship with IT and OT, making convergence a serious consideration for businesses. 

What Is IT and OT Convergence?

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Information technology and operational technology handle different sides of businesses’ technology infrastructure. On a general level, IT departments manage data while OT departments manage devices and software. The IT department might focus on a manufacturer’s employee computer passwords, while the OT department focuses on assembly line control systems. 

The two departments are similar and related but often siloed or kept isolated from one another. IT and OT convergence breaks down the barriers between them and builds a bridge instead. The idea is that if they can actively work together, they can perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively. They can pool their expertise, knowledge and resources for mutual benefit. 

There are many potential benefits of IT and OT convergence. For example, combined IT/OT departments may develop new solutions faster and for less money. They may also improve automation processes, use resources more efficiently and better comply with regulatory standards. 

Categories of IT and OT Convergence

IT/OT convergence has a few different levels or categories that break down how convergence occurs. The three main types of IT/OT convergence are physical, process, and data and software. 

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The physical category refers to the convergence of physical OT devices being adapted, updated or replaced to work with IT. The process category deals with adjustments to company workflows for IT and OT so the two can work together. Finally, the data and software category deals with the convergence of the company’s network architecture, bringing in the data and software needed to support the OT department. 

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How Is IT and OT Convergence Related to IoT?

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If IT and OT are two cities on different sides of a river, IoT is the bridge connecting them. IoT devices include a wide array of devices connected through various means, such as the internet or the cloud. 

IoT devices fill an important need in IT and OT convergence because they can collect and relay data. Instead of having assembly line sensors that simply gather information, IoT sensors actively transmit OT data to IT departments, where it can be processed, analysed and utilised. A business could monitor an aspect of its manufacturing process in real-time and make data-driven adjustments right away. 

IoT addresses one of the major challenges of converging IT and OT — OT devices are not typically designed for networking or communication. IoT gadgets act as a relay between isolated OT devices and the software and resources of IT so businesses can gain valuable insights and process improvements. 

Examples of IoT for IT/OT Convergence

Imagine implementing IT/OT convergence in a single construction vehicle with the help of IoT. The machine itself is an OT device and isn’t connected to IT infrastructure. Integrating a few IoT sensors into the vehicle allows performance data to be transmitted to IT servers and software, where it is analysed in real-time. 

A construction company can identify where the vehicle is being used inefficiently, where it is experiencing traffic or downtime, how it utilises fuel and how it’s performing overall. This data can even be used to extend the machine’s life span through predictive maintenance. 

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Similarly, IoT is crucial for evolving the use of robotics in numerous industries. Robots are rapidly transforming fields like medicine, transportation and industry. IT and OT departments must collaborate because robots sit right between physical operations and data and software. This will help robotics maximise their potential in these fields. 

For example, IoT allows a warehouse to be intelligently automated with robots, using IoT tags and sensors for tracking and navigation. Integrating robotics into various applications is easier with IT and OT convergence, which IoT helps streamline. 

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Potential Challenges of IT/OT and IoT

There are many potential benefits businesses can gain from IT and OT convergence, but there are also some key challenges to consider. Successful IT/OT convergence relies on addressing these issues. 

IT_and_OT_Challenges.png

Source: Tech Target

The most pressing challenge that arises from IT and OT convergence is security. The risk of weakened security is an unfortunate side effect of trying to bring OT devices into IT communication networks. 

This is especially true when a business uses outdated legacy systems in its OT department. These devices may not be updated frequently and aren’t usually designed to be part of a larger IT network. Therefore, OT gadgets can be weak links that hackers can exploit to launch cyberattacks. This risk is even greater considering that OT devices are critical for maintaining operations, which gives hackers leverage for attacks like ransomware. 

It is also important to remember that people can pose security risks, too. Businesses have to be strategic and mindful about converging their IT and OT teams. The risk of security weak spots will be even greater if the people in these departments cannot work effectively together. Both departments must adjust and adapt for the benefit of the whole organisation. 

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Additionally, there may be some technical challenges with the actual devices involved in the convergence. It is likely that some OT and IT tech simply won’t be compatible. This often occurs in the way devices communicate. Some may only be able to perform one-way communication or may use proprietary or unusual protocols. These technical incompatibilities are not insurmountable, but they do take some problem-solving for businesses to navigate successfully. IoT devices can be an especially helpful solution for bridging these divides. 

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IT and OT convergence can be challenging to implement, but businesses stand to gain invaluable benefits from collaboration. IoT devices can help bridge the gap between IT and OT tech, unifying the two departments and providing insights and advantages. 

It is important to address security risks and technical challenges carefully, but converging IT and OT can lead to greater efficiency, cost savings and improved operational performance. Businesses can harness the power of collaboration to drive innovation.



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TECHNOLOGY

How Hotels and Resorts are Adopting Virtual and Augmented Reality

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How Hotels and Resorts are Adopting Virtual and Augmented Reality


Once upon a time, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were only used for video games or seen in movies (think Tony Stark and all of his cool gadgets in Iron Man).

But today, thanks to all of the advances in technology, the use of AR and VR is no longer something you see only in sci-fi thrillers or something that you use for entertainment. No today, AR and VR are becoming much more commonplace, and this technology is being used in a variety of useful applications across a variety of industries. The hotel and hospitality industry is just one field that is making use of augmented and virtual reality, and its popularity is really exploding!

In fact, AR and VR have become powerful marketing tools for hotels and resorts around the globe. These technologies are really changing the way people are travelling, and it’s definitely for the better.

How are hotels and resorts utilizing augmented and virtual reality and how are these technologies helping both entrepreneurs and travellers alike? Read on to discover the exciting technologically advanced future or travel!

What is Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Before we jump in and explore how hotels and resorts are using augmented and virtual reality, it’s first important to understand exactly what these technologies are.

Both AR and VR create experiences that fully immerse users into different environments or allow them to experience things in a whole new way, but these two technologies do differ. Loosely defined, virtual reality means near-reality (virtual meaning near and reality meaning the here and now; what you are actually experiencing.). Virtual reality immerses users into an interactive computer-generated environment. It incorporates a variety of senses, primarily sight and sound, to create a life-like experience. In other words, you feel as if you have been transported to another location even though you never physically left your current location.

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Augmented reality, on the other hand, involves adding to the reality that you already see; it doesn’t replace your reality, but rather enhances it. AR has the ability to bring elements of the digital world into the real world (again, think Tony Stark in Iron Man).

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So, now that you have a basic understanding of virtual and augmented reality, let’s examine how hotels and resorts are utilizing these technologies.

Providing an Experience Before Booking

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How many times have you reserved a hotel, only to find, much to your dismay, that it was not at all what you were expecting. Sure, pictures can help you get a vague idea of what to expect, but they really can’t give you a clear idea.

With virtual reality, you can get a real idea of where you’re going to be travelling before you make a reservation. You can slip on a headset and be transported to a resort or hotel and actually walk through the lobby, see the guest rooms, and check out all of the amenities.

VR is not only beneficial for travellers’, it is also beneficial to hotels and resorts; particularly lesser-known properties or those that are located in remote areas, as it allows them to give people the opportunity to see what they have to offer.

Establishing a Competitive Edge

The hotel and hospitality industry is extremely competitive. Travellers’ have so many options when it comes to where they can stay. And with hotel and resort database sites, like Booking.com and Travelicity.com, the competition has become even steeper.

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With so much competition, it can be hard for hotels and resorts to set themselves apart from the crowd. Photos and marketing content can only do so much. But augmented and virtual reality can really help hotels and resorts establish a competitive edge. It allows them to distinguish themselves and showcase their unique selling points. In other words, it gives them the chance to show prospective travellers the chance to explore the gardens, visit the restaurants, and lounge by the pool that resort A has to offer, thus allowing the resort to stand out in the crowd and attract more people.

Making Booking Easier

Another way that hotels and resorts are adopting advanced technologies to simplify the booking process for their guests. For example, most hotels and resorts offer different types of accommodations; standard rooms, suites, handicap accessible rooms, and so forth. By using augmented and virtual reality, guests can actually see what different accommodations offer to determine what will best meet their needs.

When potential visitors have the opportunity to really experience different accommodations, the process of making reservations becomes a lot easier for them.

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Ensuring Guest Satisfaction

Hotels and resorts are also using AR and VR as a way to improve guest satisfaction. When people have the chance to see what they are going to get before they arrive, it’s much more likely that they are going to have a more pleasant experience, and when they have a more pleasant experience, guests are much more satisfied. When guest satisfaction improves, so does the reputation of a hotel or resort, which translates to much greater success.

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Augmented Environments

Augmented_Environment.jpeg

A lot of properties are using AR as a way to make the environment of their hotel or resort more enjoyable for their guests. For instance, some hotels are using AR to allow guests to use their smartphones to see them alongside images of their favourite celebrities or cartoon characters.  Other hotels are using AR as a means for showcasing products or entertainment options the hotel/resort features.

Summing It Up

Augmented reality and virtual reality are already proving to be invaluable tools for hotels and resorts around the globe. These technologies are a truly effective way to develop a competitive edge, allow guests to see what properties have to offer, improve the booking process, and ensure guest satisfaction.

Given the incredibly positive effects that augmented reality and virtual reality have had for hotels and resorts, it is exciting to think of how these technologies will further be adopted by hotels and resorts, and how AR and VR will enhance marketing for establishments and experiences for travellers in the future.



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