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How Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) are Different

All modern businesses use a mixture of IT and OT. However, not everyone can accurately define the two. These two terms are often blended, with their definitions constantly overlapping. In reality, these two computer terms are very different. While they hold similarities, they also have just as many differences.

To understand how these two terms are different, first, it’s essential to know what each one means.  

What is IT?

IT stands for Information Technology, which refers to things like computer networks, databases, and software – the digital part of IT infrastructure. It focuses primarily on managing and processing data.

High-quality IT systems allow businesses to efficiently manage, store, and process data to boost efficiency and communicate more clearly. It’s also up to the IT department of a company to ensure robust security measures so that the entire IT system and its sensitive data are protected from cybersecurity threats.

What is OT?

OT – standing for operational technology – refers to the physical hardware and devices that controls and monitors physical processes. It’s typically found in industrial settings, constantly running in the background to ensure all processes run smoothly. An excellent example of OT is SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition systems), which controls industrial processes, analyzing real-time data from machinery. As such, it creates a more optimized approach.

IT vs. OT: What Are the Differences?

The most apparent difference between IT and OT is that IT focuses on digital data, whereas OT focuses on physical processing. It refers to the hardware and software that stores data, whereas OT refers to the hardware and software that monitors ongoing processes. Each uses different types of technologies. Typically, IT could mainly be found in an office environment, whereas OT devices could be found in a more industrial setting. However, over the years, businesses have started to converge the two, bringing IT and OT together to create smoother business operations.

How IT and OT Can Work Together

The best type of business computing system uses both IT and OT in a seamless and compatible way. When these two work together, businesses can quickly analyze data from various systems more efficiently. By combining the data, organizations can gain an advantage, having a better understanding of operations and how to improve.

Edge computing plays a significant role in the convergence of IT and OT. Edge computing makes the collaboration of IT and OT all the more possible, as edge computing involves data processing in the vicinity of the network. In turn, the systems produce faster response times with real-time data and the ability of IT/OT teams to collaborate efficiently. has a good range of edge computing systems for industries. These allow for easier collaboration of IT and OT and therefore optimized operations.  

IT and OT: Two Different Forms of Tech that Should Work Together

As you can see, there are major contrasts between IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology). That doesn’t mean they should stay completely separate, however. When IT and OT work together, organizations create a more responsive, speedier system that works in tune with the business’s needs.