There’s an adage in the world of race car drivers: the car goes where the eyes go. They don’t focus on the immediate obstacle, or the driver next to them. Being clear-eyed about where you want to go gives you the visibility you need to circumvent any challenge that may arise.

The same mindset can enable industry leaders looking to digitally transform their operations into the Industry 4.0 era. Sure, it’s the technologies that comprise Industry 4.0—artificial intelligence, machine learning, and various capabilities that fall under the Internet of Things—but focusing on the technologies does necessarily lead to success.

Instead, industry leaders who have successfully blazed the path toward enhanced digitization have all focused on the business outcomes and the processes that enable these outcomes, not the tech.

Define the Goal

Let’s begin at the end, then, by defining the outcome we want to achieve.

In a smart factory, networked computers communicate with each other with minimal or zero human involvement. As a result, these factories are unprecedentedly efficient, productive, and more sustainable for the planet.

Advanced technologies can deliver mobility services to any plant, but it’s what the plant can do with those mobility services that is key:

  • Augmented reality for training or trouble shooting
  • Autonomous robots for improved material handling and automated assembly
  • Asset location tracking for process improvements and worker safety
  • Better inventory management
  • Mobile workforce

But how do we get there? By defining the outcome, we can begin to articulate the digital transformation journey of individual industry customers. And that process must begin by incorporating people, security, automation, and a future-forward strategy.

The How: OT and IT Alignment

Over the past several years, OT and IT have been aligning much more closely. This alignment is being accelerated by the need to secure and scale the Industry 4.0 program. A holistic, integrated approach is vital for protecting outcomes.

Without that alignment, OT and IT do things differently. If, for example, IT didn’t like something on their network, they just shut it down, causing problems for the OT environment. Scalable, full-scope visibility across the system allows you to detect and prevent threats from migrating further in the system and mitigate them in a more efficient and secure manner.

But perhaps even more importantly, OT and IT alignment has also enabled companies to define both common goals and integrated processes. Such alignment around process—a continual evolution, with gains along the way—also allows you to better measure success.

During the pandemic, companies with aligned OT and IT were better positioned to flex the agility required to respond to shifts and weaknesses that were revealed in real time, all while staying secure. These companies were able to work together to ensure peak performance, uptime, and compliance, as well as execute agile processes.

Start Your Journey with Cisco

My team has a running joke that we’re in the interpretation business: our customers define the outcomes they need, and we simply interpret what the enabling technology needs to be to solve the challenges today and into the future.

We do this by assisting with greater OT/IT integration around systems, security, and collaboration. Gone are the days when customers can afford to independently deploy solutions for OT and IT. Instead, we lead a convergence of those teams to connect the dots, enabling greater success, more efficiency, and better outcomes for our customers. In effect, when the people are aligned, the processes toward transformation are smoother, more cost efficient, and the whole ship can begin to sail in the same direction.

It’s a journey, to be sure, but if we approach this transformation as primarily a mission to obtain OT/IT alignment toward an agreed outcome, you can secure your systems, reach your efficiency and productivity goals, and lead your organization into the Industry 4.0 future and beyond.

Catch Our Keynote at Hannover Messe

Interested in hearing more about Industry 4.0, IT/OT, and the Future of Work? Join me for a discussion with Bosch and Estee Lauder at Hannover Messe Digital Days:

Mark your calendar:

Industrial Pioneers Bosch and Estée Lauder Discuss Industry 4.0 and What’s Ahead
Wednesday, April 14 @ 5:30 p.m. CET

(U.S. times: 11:30 a.m. ET | 8:30 a.m. PT)

Register to attend Hannover Messe 2021 — free!

Register for Hannover Messe Digital Days 2021 and your virtual pass is on us! It’s free with our discount code: hb4vH


For more information on what you need to know before you go to Hannover (virtually), check out our blog:

Know Before You Go: Hannover Messe Digital Days 2021



Dan Wiggins

Vice President

Industry Solutions Group