Operations IT, a new role for IOT

Stacey Higginbotham on StaceyOnIOT posts on a new role in IT for Industrial and and Enterprise IOT.

As technology comes for more and more of the corporation, from conference rooms to manufacturing plants, there’s a culture clash brewing between the IT department and the folks responsible for operations. Because while those operations might be focused on maintaining the safety and comfort of those conference rooms or managing the safety in that manufacturing plant, when everything gets a computer and a potential connection to the internet, it all becomes part of IT.

In this post Stacey highlights a problem in operations of a BASF plant with WiFI out for 11 months to support the sensor network. Stacey expresses a sense of shock that this happened.

But they didn’t replace it. Odom said the plant has now been without Wi-Fi, and thus this particular system, ever since the IT team took it down 11 months ago. Recently, the plant experienced an equipment failure that cost “something in the six figures,” which would have been detected by the vibration sensors had they been operational. Odom said that her notes to the IT department had not had any effect, but she hoped that the equipment failure — a clear example of how the lack of Wi-Fi was costing BASF money — might inspire a bit of urgency.

That is a particularly egregious example of a corporate IT department not communicating with an operational tech team. But while I was stunned by the idea that a section of a plant might be without Wi-Fi for 11 months, most of the other attendees didn’t seem surprised. As to how anything got done at all, there were other Wi-Fi networks in the plant — just not ones this particular system could use.

This is easy to see happening as the the corporate IT department wanted to show it knows better and choose to shut down the risky hardware. IT addressed a risk, and put the replacement project in the queue to be worked on when they have budget and time.

Would this situation be prevented by the role of Operations IT? Not necessarily. This is why almost all the big data center groups have their own IT group for their operations which is separate from the enterprise IT group. Operations has their own budget and resources to work on the problems to keep their business running. Running office space for enterprise staff is so different than operations that needs to run beyond an 8 hour day and has a direct impact on the business when there is an outage.