Automation Strategies for the Field, Edge and Cloud Continuum

by , , | Oct 25, 2022 | Digital Transformation

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

From L to R: Claudio Fayad, David Holmes, Christine Boles, Rich Waller, Peter Zornio

Emerson’s Chief Technology Officer Peter Zornio moderated a panel session with Intel’s Christine Boles, Microsoft’s Rich Waller, Dell’s David Holmes, and Emerson’s VP of DeltaV Platform Development Claudio Fayad at the 2022 Emerson Exchange. Here is the session abstract:

Gain the perspective of industry experts from four of the world’s most prominent technology companies specializing in information technology and operational technology in this roundtable discussion. Emerson, Dell Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft will share their strategies for building modern solutions at the forefront OT/IT convergence. Gain insight into obstacles and opportunities–as well as expert guidance–for successfully integrating the field, edge, and cloud. Company experts will discuss the importance of corporate partnerships in helping end users navigate complexity to successfully accomplish modernization and digital transformation, and will share a roadmap for future improvement of the bridge between OT and IT.

After the panelists introduced themselves, Peter opened by asking the panelists about the challenges and successes in manufacturers’ & producers’ digital transformation journey. Claudio opened by stressing the importance have a clear business objective to achieve. He gave an example of one manufacturer having a lot of expertise retiring. Digital twins to simulate the process and be able to train new personnel helped to upskill to overcome the loss of knowledge.

David shared that a significant benefit was to empower subject matter experts to have better access to information to drive business performance improvements. The challenge is that the data is often siloed and not available broadly for other SMEs for collaboration.

Christine noted that the pandemic drove unique needs that required technology to get the data where it needed to go to keep the business operating effectively. Rich explained that the key is accelerating the flow of information to SMEs no matter where they are—speeding up insights to outcomes to improve performance.

Peter next asked the panelists about the edge and where it is essential compared to the cloud. Christine shared what it’s like bringing cloud-like capabilities with computing power. The edge is closer and is more time sensitive. It also is where data can be transformed into information through AI-based applications and sending this distilled information to the cloud.

David described the edge as something more private and not in the public cloud. It’s where virtualization and containerization can occur and have high enough latency that’s not possible in the cloud. Rich shared that mission-critical applications are unsuitable in the cloud but make sense at the edge. Fast insights into outcomes can occur.

Is the cloud becoming more favorable for operational technology (OT) applications? Rich explained that it is more welcomed for applications that are not mission-critical. It facilitates collaboration among the SMEs to have access the distilled information. Almost every solution is a hybrid cloud edge based on criticality and latency requirements.

Claudio highlighted the concerns of OT personnel around intellectual property and natural friction between OT and IT staff based on different roles and missions. The need for un-siloing information is driving down the barriers to action to locate the data, fully contextualized, where it makes the most sense. He calls it data democratization.

A misconception about digital transformation is that it has to be expensive. It starts with the problem you’re trying to solve and taking steps to work at. It’s a continuum of activities and projects over time, much more than an event.

Technology advancements from leading technology suppliers will continue to drive digital transformation initiatives to achieve business objectives.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.