IT/OT integration: tearing down walls – building bridges

peter maier Peter Maier, General Manager,
Energy and Natural Resources Industries

For decades, business processes and technical devices lived happily in two separate domains that were mostly bridged by smart people and manual processes. People used business information to control machines in the physical world.Sensors and devices signaled to humans to trigger business processes. Our real-time world can no longer afford this separation, there is too much value lost in translation and in delays.

We definitely have the technology to connect business processes with the physical world: In-memory computing, big data, business networks, mobility and a variety of cloud based services are the necessary building blocks. Devices and machines not only have sensors to monitor their state, they are also digitally connected and controlled. Business networks connect to suppliers, customers, and service providers. Business processes span enterprises and value chains in real time.

Business cases to integrate business and technical processes pop up by the dozen in design thinking workshops that re-imagine business models, re-imagine business processes, and re-imagine the ways people will work in the future.

Turning those business cases into business outcome is not a trivial task of integrating information technology with operational technology: No transactional business system wants to collect and process granular sensor data, no computer-controlled lathe or drill press wants to understand all customer information or even the cost structure of the products they make.

So we need a bi-directional digital bridge that translates sensor and machine data into information that makes sense for business processes – and that translates business transactions and decisions into instructions that can be understood by machines.


SAP and OSIsoft are partnering to build this bridge using the SAP HANA real-time business platform that offers the tools and technology to analyse data in real-time, draw actionable conclusions, and to translate business decisions into system controls. Let’s look at how the OSIsoft PI system and SAP HANA work in an example:

A sensor in a compressor pump shows increasing power consumption that suggests impending failure. This analysis is performed in SAP HANA based on PI system data and triggers an event to the SAP S/4HANA system, asking for a maintenance order in combination with a spare part acquisition to fix the compressor before it breaks down and brings production to a halt. Business analytics finds a downtime slot with minimal impact on production schedule and customer commitments. The SAP Business Network is used to source the maintenance engineer and the required parts. The updated production schedule is translated by the PI platform to instructions on the shop floor.

This example provides a glimpse of the hyper-connected world we are entering, with connected supply chains, connected operations with connected workers, connecting products and services. SAP and OSIsoft have the vision to tear down the walls that separate the business systems from the operational systems and to build bridges that connect those domains in real-time. Our initiative around the OSIsoft PI system powered by SAP HANA leads the way into the digital future.

In case you should be interested in learning more about the partnership of SAP and OSIsoft, please listen to the recording of our recent webinar: Enabling Data-Driven Intelligence in the Hyper-Connected World of the Energy and Natural Resources Industries

By Peter Maier  General Manager Energy and Natural Resources Industries  SAP SE

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