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Infosys Brings Managed Services to Digital Manufacturing

 

The world of OT has been consulting-centric in recent years. Although their focus on digital manufacturing and IoT opportunities has intensified, enterprises have typically engaged their IT services partners mostly for use case identification, PoCs and pilot projects. Large-scale build projects have been uncommon.

But the pandemic has put digital manufacturing firmly at the top of the agenda and enterprises are now looking at optimizing their plant operations through remote work and increased automation. Cybersecurity concerns have also accelerated their focus on digital manufacturing. Manufacturing plants have heterogenous OT and IT systems; they rely on diverse equipment and ICT with different communication protocols and limited security capability. This OT/IT diversity in the shop floor makes monitoring and security difficult.

Several leading IT services providers, among them Infosys, advocate a comprehensive managed service approach to plant OT/IT and have developed comprehensive managed service offerings which include cybersecurity solutions. Managed service offerings start with the typical IoT use case of equipment monitoring, leveraging dashboards that allow the visualization of the health of one or multiple equipment assets, alerts and alarms for operators and maintenance field services.

In a development on its equipment monitoring offerings, Infosys has recently launched an OTSM offering, as part of its Cobalt Enterprise Service Management Café’s cloud blueprints, using ServiceNow’s OTSM tool and other technologies. The company highlights that clients do not have a clear view of equipment support responsibility; and operators on the plant floor do not know who to turn to when dealing with incidents related to equipment, HMIs, sensors, or networks.

Infosys is looking to bring to the OT world the structured approach common to service desk organizations. It articulates its OTSM offering around:

  • Asset discovery: identifying assets on the shop floor, from hardware to firmware version, including obsolete assets whose replacement needs to be budgeted for, or out of support software products. Infosys is also mapping plant asset dependency, and impact on other equipment, to build contingency plans. It conducts this phase primarily remotely, with personnel manually going through control systems’ lines of code and also looking at study drawings. Automation is next, with Infosys working on an automated asset discovery, initially looking at IT and OT connected to networks
  • Support governance and industrialization. Infosys is deploying the structured service desk approach to IT/OT to increase support coverage, bringing comprehensive visibility to support experts through dashboards, assigning tickets automatically, and building up a knowledge base to recommend resolutions.

Infosys’ offering will evolve both internally and in using ServiceNow functionality. Internally, Infosys is adding predictive maintenance use cases to complement monitoring ones. Externally, ServiceNow is working on integrating security software into its OTSM capabilities. With such functionality in the pipeline and many more coming longer-term, the service desk organization will evolve into a command & control center with automation at its core.

To achieve this vision of an automated support organization, Infosys will need to avoid the pitfalls of IT service desks and bring both flexibility and reactivity to operations. There are important benefits to be derived from the consumer experience now promoted in an advanced IT service desk, one that includes self-service, omni-channel communications, and knowledge bases. Client organizations should benefit from the democratization of digital manufacturing use cases such as remote monitoring, maintenance, and track-and-trace, to the shop-floor level, with empowered operators.

Client adoption of this OTSM offering will of course depend on the business case. Infosys is promoting this offering to its existing ServiceNow users. In particular, it is targeting support organizations that are structured around the ServiceNow tool and have the relevant processes and ServiceNow best practices. Nonetheless, OTSM’s pricing is based on the number of assets monitored, and will, at least initially, demand an investment by clients. To overcome this initial invest phase in the modernization of OT environments, Infosys is promoting transformational outsourcing involving multi-year contract agreements where OT modernization is funded by savings on operations management, a concept familiar to most CIOs.

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