Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, and Omdia, the technology market research firm, found that while digital transformation is critical to business strategy, many industrial process organizations are still not ready.
The finding was part of a study conducted by the two companies to better understand the pain points and specific challenges faced by companies in the process industry when embarking on their digital journeys.
Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents to the survey, which focused on the efficacy of distributed control systems (DCS), stated they are actively deploying digital transformation initiatives at one or more facility. However, just over half (55%) are only ‘somewhat equipped’ to effectively carry out these activities. This deficit poses a huge challenge, as almost all organizations (94%) expect that digital transformation will have a significant impact on their operations over the next two to three years.
The research surveyed hundreds of buyers and end users across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region, in six industries: water, chemicals, oil & gas, refining, pulp & paper, and power generation.
A full 88% of respondents said their control vendor’s expertise to support DCS upgrades or modernization was excellent. Yet despite this confidence in vendor support, customers identified three top qualities they are looking for in control vendors to improve their DCS:
- Better system performance and functionality
- Greater system integration capabilities
- Proven return on investment
Implementing advanced DCS solutions, such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ Foxboro DCS process automation system, is high on the agendas of many organizations. EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, in particular, supports industrial processes and plants to consistently deliver safe and measurable operation and profitability improvements, enabling 100% return on investment in less than a year.
The study also found that more collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is needed for successful digital transformation. The convergence between IT and OT is happening in organizations but with mixed levels of behavioral alignment and shared prioritization.
The research showed that OT and IT departments collaborate most in addressing enterprise IT issues and collaborate least on network security strategy and oversight. Meanwhile, the top three areas with the most influence over defining control system digital transformation specifications are IT, corporate, and production/manufacturing.
According to the report, open automation and interoperable architectures associated with distributed control systems are considered ‘relatively important’ when implementing new technologies or working with new vendors. This supports solutions like EcoStruxureTM Automation Expert which demonstrate clear efficiencies in open industrial environments designed for engineering automation.
Improved scalability—a key value of an interoperable architecture—ranked third among the most important influences towards implementing control system digital technologies. Plus, open ecosystems ranked as ‘very important’ to 88% of respondents when selecting control system vendors.