Process organisations are not prepared for digital transformations

12 September 2022

Research undertaken by Schneider Electric and Omdia has found that, while digital transformation is critical to business strategy, many industrial process organisations are still not ready.

This finding was part of a study conducted by the two companies to better understand the pain points and specific challenges faced by companies in the process industry when embarking on their digital journeys.

Over three-quarters of survey respondents, which focused on the efficacy of distributed control systems (DCS), stated they are actively deploying digital transformation initiatives at one or more facility. However, just over half are only ‘somewhat equipped’ to effectively carry out these activities. This deficit poses a huge challenge, as almost all organisations (94%) expect that digital transformation will have a significant impact on their operations over the next two to three years.

The research surveyed hundreds of buyers and end users across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region, in six industries – water, chemicals, oil & gas, refining, pulp & paper, and power generation.

The study also found that more collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is needed for successful digital transformation. The convergence between IT and OT is happening in organisations but with mixed levels of behavioural alignment and shared prioritisation.

The research showed that OT and IT departments collaborate most in addressing enterprise IT issues and collaborate least on network security strategy and oversight. Meanwhile, the top three areas with the most influence over defining control system digital transformation specifications are IT, corporate, and production/manufacturing.

According to the report, open automation and interoperable architectures associated with distributed control systems are considered ‘relatively important’ when implementing new technologies or working with new vendors.

Improved scalability – a key value of an interoperable architecture – ranked third among the most important influences towards implementing control system digital technologies. Plus, open ecosystems ranked as ‘very important’ to 88% of respondents when selecting control system vendors.

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