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Operational Technology, IoT have become More Critical than Ever | Amrita Chowdhury

Amrita Chowdhury, Director, GAIA Smart Cities Solutions, asserted that the convergence of IoT and OT can help companies navigate the current crisis and emerge stronger.

At the beginning of 2020, none of the businesses anticipated that the Covid-19 pandemic would throw the economy, and their own operations, into an unprecedented crisis. Serious dislocations and restrictions are likely to remain a fact of life for some time to come, with executives constantly facing new pressure. As businesses adjust to the New Normal, executives are grappling with the longer-term question: How will businesses and supply chains look after Covid-19?

“The current crisis has necessitated the move towards remote automated operations with higher service-level, safety and hygiene expectations at a time when there are limitations on workforce. In a way, businesses are striving to be more productive and digital with remote operational processes so that fewer people can deliver high level of productivity. This is why Operational Technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT) are becoming more critical than ever,” stated Amrita Chowdhury, Director, GAIA Smart Cities.

The IoT, automation and data analytics company has been quick to offer its IoT and OT solutions to its customers to enable them streamline operations rapidly. The company modified its solution, used for non-clinical workflow automation and workforce and service orchestration in hospitals, to digitize and orchestrate essential services for city administration during the lockdown.

“We worked actively with Agra city administration to digitize and orchestrate essential services from over 800-odd retailers across the city. As restrictions were lifted, we assisted in emergency response management services to help citizens in need for medication, doctor’s advice, corona testing and reporting as well as fumigation. Our AI-based platform allowed allocating requests to civil defence team to help citizens in need,” elaborated Chowdhury.

Business Continuity with IoT
Faced with the Covid-19 crisis, industrial leaders have one business imperative: maintaining their operations. IoT, implemented in a plug-and-play mode, can be instrumental in ensuring business continuity and minimizing economic damage by ensuring employee safety and security, improving liquidity, and lowering short-term costs.

“Industrial IoT has really transformed the processes to reveal the gaps which were not traceable earlier. But that also brings plethora of data. This is where automation and orchestration platform comes in, which helps customers to capture data from different streams, analyze it and reveal the pain points, performance levels in real-time to take proactive and preventive steps,” Chowdhury highlighted.

She further added that IoT solutions provide insights-as-a-service, bringing data from users, sensors, and digital channels to bring real-time visibility and deep analytics into the last mile. In-built rules and AI-based action engine can generate alerts and enable rapid response. IoT solutions also enable digital and cognitive workflow automation with predictive analytics, to simplify operations, and predict, prioritize, and proactively manage processes. It helps unlock productivity of employees and the organization.

IT and OT Synergy
Chowdhury opined that advancements and synergy can be created when OT is merged with IT as it speeds up production, minimizes time and energy consumption, and also reduces the cost of monitoring assets on the floor. However, she warned that improper integration of the two results in failure of the entire project. “The need is to stitch the solution into the business processes of the organization with the active involvement of people and stakeholders to synthesize lots of information and analytics and take action. We must ensure the solutions to be user-friendly so that the last-mile frontline workers can use it and at the same time it also packs complexity to deliver performance parameters and predictive analytics to the CXOs.”

She also highlighted that any OT solution must be aligned with motivation for the users. “Many of the projects fail not because the technology was not good, but people felt threatened by it. If people feel threatened and don’t adopt it, there will not be enough data to prove that the solution was effective and impactful. Hence, motivation to use the technology is equally critical for success.”

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