Millennials have a bad reputation. Depending on who you ask, they’re blamed for the declining popularity of yoghurt, fabric softener, motorcycles, home cooking, golf, cereal, toys and even beer.
Despite their supposed apathy towards napkins and traditional weddings, it’s difficult to deny the impact that millennials are having in the workplace. They’re a determined and tech-savvy generation that embrace innovation and strive for improvement.
This energy is starting to have a real impact on an issue that many manufacturers are deliberating - IT and OT convergence.
Battle of the Generations?
The idea of convergence can be a divisive one. Members of both sides often have doubts about alignment and are sceptical about the supposed benefits of making the switch from a traditional silo approach.
The disagreements between IT and OT are well documented but is there another conflict taking place? We carried out a survey of IT and OT professionals to gauge their thoughts on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and adopting new tools.
The specific area that millennials are much more likely to embrace than other age groups, relates to the ‘as-a-service’ trend. We found that millennials are 13% more likely than other age groups to be comfortable around the use of subscription based tools.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the ubiquitousness of this concept in their personal lives; after all, Spotify, Amazon Prime and Netflix are just three examples of subscription-based offerings that have taken off in a big way in the last decade. But what does this have to do with IT/OT convergence?
As it happens, a lot. The technologies which are likely to act as a catalyst for IT/OT convergence are increasingly (and sometimes exclusively) available on subscription, or on the cloud, or both.
Organisations are finding that they can achieve specific business outcomes, without having to make up-front, capital investments, through integrating their OT systems into these technologies. They’ve been doing it with ERP systems (like SAP), CRM systems (like Salesforce) and Accounting Systems (like SAGE) for years, but now that millennials are increasingly taken on decision making positions in OT, we are starting to see this here too.
Millennials are joining industries with a very different set of expectations than those who’ve come before them. They’re used to instant gratification and are willing to work incredibly hard to achieve positive results.
So, what does this mean for the future and is it as simple as old versus young when it comes to the arguments for and against convergence?
Millennials and Manufacturing
The influx of millennials has coincided with the rise of Industry 4.0 and the IIoT. Manufacturers are beginning to see the advantages of utilising big data and are taking active steps to utilise its potential.
This can only truly be done once the IT and OT spheres have converged. If they’re kept independent of each other, then there’s less transparency and it’s harder to make truly informed business decisions.
Bringing together IT and OT allows for more collaboration throughout the business. It ensures that everyone has access to the same real-time information that’s needed for the organisation to be truly agile.
This fast and effective sharing of vital information is something millennials are accustomed to anyway. Instant messaging and platforms like Twitter provide answers quicker than ever before. Today’s breaking news stories happen on social media not in the following day’s newspapers. Millennials see no reason as to why this speed can’t be replicated in the workplace too.
Being able to respond quickly to shifting market trends prevents your business from falling behind the curve and allows it to take advantage of lucrative new opportunities. New opportunities mean positive growth and establishes your business as a leader within the industry.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
As more and more millennials begin to influence key decisions and business strategies, we’ll start to see convergence be more commonplace across manufacturing and other industries. They bring fresh ideas to the problem of alignment and don’t hold the same entrenched views as their predecessors.
They can be the spark a business needs to embrace change and take a bold step forward. Closing the gap between IT and OT is a complicated process that requires clear communication, management buy-in and clarity regarding roles and responsibilities.
If your business is ready to learn more about the benefits of convergence and is interested in what convergence would actually look like, then make sure to download our free resource that can help.
Your Roadmap to an Aligned Workforce
Download our eBook on IT and OT convergence for more insight into why so many businesses are moving away from traditional silos. It’s a complicated process but our eBook outlines some of the benefits you’ll achieve once both teams are aligned.
Plus, it includes best practices to follow to ensure everything is a success. Get your free copy now by clicking the link below.