Stage 1: Assessment

The ‘Assessment’ stage of the Connected Enterprise Maturity Model evaluates all facets of an organisation’s existing OT/IT network. Especially critical is an examination of the people and processes that manage this framework - if a recognisable framework even exists.

“We assess the readiness of an industrial company to change its processes and information architecture to leverage timelier and more accurate information that is available in the enterprise today,” says Keith Nosbusch, Chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation                                                                                                                                                                                        .

A major challenge during the ‘Assessment’ stage is potential hesitation to invest time in questioning practices that they have relied upon for years. Even more pressing, though, is to understand how to manage the transition to a more intelligent OT/IT network without disrupting operations or causing customer delays. That transition will depend, in large part, on the extent of the gap between the current state and the desired state - i.e. can the capability of the existing network be upgraded, or will it need replaced? A thorough assessment identifies and catalogs problems with the existing OT/IT network, to help create a ‘wish list’ for the new network and operations, laying the foundation for more advanced technologies such as business intelligence software or cloud- computing capabilities. More than half of the manufacturers (56%) report that none of their applications or systems use cloud- computing; another 23% have just 1 - 10% of applications and systems in the cloud

Stage 2: Secure and Upgraded Network and Controls

After gaps and weaknesses have been 

identified in the current OT/IT network and operations, upgrades begin with a long-term view that contemplates facility expansions and new technologies. During this stage the organisation evolves and/ or builds an OT/IT backbone that will deliver secure, adaptable connectivity from plant-floor operations to enterprise business systems.

It’s this phrase - ‘from plant floor to enterprise network’ - that surfaces one of the largest challenges manufacturers face in designing more intelligent networks: Who has responsibility for managing the new OT/IT network? Is it OT - or IT - or both? During Stage 2, upgrades to hardware begin, along with planning for how OT and IT engineers will collaborate. In a workshop environment, cross-functional teams assess new technology options, establish vendor roadmaps and plot out future-ready, scalable design of the OT/ IT network.

For many companies, it will be the first time they’ve ever had an integrated OT/ IT network - and the first opportunity to control equipment performance in real-time (e.g. demand responsiveness). Developing a security policy to accompany the more secure, productive network also begins in Stage 2.

A frequent challenge, especially in larger organisations, is the sheer volume and variety of outdated controls and networks in place.

Stage 3: Defined and Organised Working Data Capital (WDC)

In Stage 3, teams organised for the OT/IT upgrade, define and organise the company’s Working Data Capital (WDC) - i.e. all the available data for improving business processes and improvements - and determine how to leverage it for optimum gains. Note that none of the stages are completely separated from others, and this is especially true with organisational changes in Stage 2 (new data capabilities emerging) and Stage 3 (identifying how to harness and leverage the data). In Stage 3, the team also ‘contextualises’ the data by scoping new workflows, schedules and responsibilities. Data must be standardised and normalised between systems.

“The changes occurring during this time represent a famine-to-feast information evolution in the organisation,” says John Nesi, Vice President Market Development, Rockwell Automation. “You go from having no usable OT data in some instances to an overabundance. How will you evaluate what is now available and turn data into insight? How will you filter the important insights from the nice-to-know, but not- actionable insights?”

A WDC plan prevents manufacturers and industrial operations from drowning in data while they starve for information. The plan helps companies establish systems that allow them to identify how to turn data into tangible triggers for change, and 

to evaluate how C-level strategic decisions benefit the bottom line.

An effective OT/IT network incorporates data from OT devices across the enterprise to deliver performance- critical information (e.g.   costs, downtime etc.) that can  be  used for real-time decision-making, even as IT supports more locations via remote monitoring.

Stage 4: Analytics

During Stage 4, the focus shifts from hardware, devices, software and networks to continuous improvement. How best to leverage the new-found OT/IT capabilities? A changing culture within the company now recognises the ability of the OT/IT network to surface problems and opportunities in real- time. At an operational level, analytics utilising the WDC identified will help to pinpoint the greatest needs for real-time information (e.g. persistent problems by location, process, product and machine); authorised recipients of the information who have the ability to act on the information; and standardised protocols that the information will trigger (many proactive and automatic).

At this stage, the challenge continues to be the scope - and avoiding data overload. Some managers will want to capture and review all available data, even though there is little benefit in doing so. Others will fall victim to ‘data disbelief’ - hesitant to accept data emerging from the plant floor because it contradicts long- held beliefs regarding how processes, lines and equipment operate. Again, senior leadership will be responsible for culture change that persuades or removes these obstacles to change, furthering development of an organisation focused on operational excellence. Once cultural change begins to occur, built-in mechanisms will proactively respond to issues and problems as they arise, often based on lead metrics that minimize cost draining losses. So rather than wait for lag measures that lead to accumulation of wastes (inventory, resources, energy etc.) and that typically spur short-lived firefighting improvements, WDC and analytics help the organisation rapidly identify and prioritise continuous- improvement/kaizen projects before the problems escalate.

Stage 5: Collaboration

Stage 5 of the maturity model is creating an environment that anticipates activities throughout the enterprise and through the supply and demand chain. Within the enterprise emerges predictive capabilities that make for more efficient production planning and asset management, timely and levelled order execution, improved quality and streamlined plant-to-plant performances. Real-time information brings the ability to sense and manipulate plant processes on the fly. The external objectives are to develop responsiveness to external events - supplier and customer activities, business trends, markets, political events and even weather patterns  to minimize losses from negative events (e.g. foreign currency collapse and its impact on inventories in the country) and leverage new  opportunities (e.g. effect of a heat wave on product demand). The OT/IT network begins to coordinate activities from furthest suppliers to end customers.

Although the opportunity to improve supplier and customer relationships 

is available to all manufacturers, only 21% have developed ‘partnership’ relationships with customers, and only 13% describe their supplier relationships as ‘partnerships’.

During Stage 5 improvement continues internally, but focuses on advanced performance targets with innovative methods to reach once-unrealistic goals. One major challenge during this stage is tempering the belief that the organisation can now ‘do anything’, which can unnecessarily burden the staff.

Limitations of OT/IT networks at suppliers and customers also can prevent optimum collaboration and performance. For suppliers, customers and business units capturing or contributing data to the OT/ IT network, access should be scoped, both for network-security reasons and to protect proprietary processes.

The benefits from being able to react rapidly and accurately to emerging supply-chain and market conditions drive operational excellence and cost savings in countless ways.


Everymanufacturerwillenterandprogress through the stages of the Connected Enterprise Maturity Model that is most appropriate for it, at a pace determined by its own needs, infrastructure, readiness and resources.

There are organisations that are in relatively advanced positions (as identified by the assessment), already leveraging their WDC and collaborating with suppliers; having worked with companies at the beginning of their OT/IT intelligence journeys, one thing for sure is that there are significant opportunities - and profits - for both.