Recently, the AspenTech DataWorks team commissioned Vanson Bourne, an independent specialist in market research for the technology sector, to perform an independent study of 200 North American and European decision makers to learn more about their industrial data usage.
In general, the research showed that organizations are reaping benefits from industrial data, but that the siloed approach and skills gap are holding them back from unlocking value from the plant floor to the executive suite.
One in four organizations have fully executed an industrial data strategy while others—another 61%—are making progress. Only 1% have no plans to create a strategy indicating its importance as it’s on the radar for almost all organizations. Larger organizations are slightly behind when it comes to fully rolling out an industrial/operational data strategy, which may be due to so many departments needing to align on a strategic level.
Finding the Sweet Spot for Collaboration
The most commonly reported benefit of industrial data access among organizations was the increased speed of innovation, which is essential in today’s market. Operations teams claim improved product quality is their top benefit, which makes sense as they’re heavily involved in business activities focused on production. The top benefit for IT departments was improved data-driven decisions, likely due to being directly involved with handling large amounts of data.
Operations teams struggle with both data quality and skills when drawing insights from industrial data. The most commonly ranked top issue among all respondents was a lack of clean, high-quality data. However, this is more of an issue for Operations, whose other top barriers are having too few employees with analytical skills and a lack of data infrastructure. Meanwhile IT teams are unable to share data between departments/geographies, which we believe has to do with collaboration between IT and OT alongside data integrity challenges. If the departments collaborated better, this may reduce these barriers significantly.
Overall, the majority agree that they aren’t working as one function as they have no or differing degrees of collaboration. Operations are more likely to report siloed working while the IT departments may be overestimating the extent that they share data and work with Operations as the feeling of collaboration between them is not mutual. There may be lack of communication between the two departments on what degree of collaboration is needed between them.
The Road Ahead for Industrial Data
Overall, the research shows that organizations have a clear idea of what they’re looking for in technology to enable industrial/operational data for insights, but that IT and Operations departments look for differing technology capabilities when making an investment decision.
Operations are more focused on technology that can reach their department through a scalable solution, an intuitive user experience and a centralized platform for data aggregation and analysis. These wants are indicative of the magnitude of data that needs managing – linking back to their desire for data lakes. Unsurprisingly, the focus for IT is on the technology being easy to integrate to their current digital ecosystem since they would be tasked with the work behind it.
The findings about the relationship between these departments’ needs underlines what we all intuit: when siloes are in play, data access and collaboration can suffer. By ensuring each piece of the industrial data landscape is in communication with one another, the entire organization can benefit.