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IT vs OT: What's the Difference and Why it Matters

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Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the business world, but they are actually quite different. In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between IT and OT, and why it's important for businesses to understand these distinctions.

What is IT?

IT refers to using computers, software, and other technology to manage and process information. IT is typically focused on data processing, storage, and communication. Examples of IT applications include email systems, databases, and software applications. IT is an essential component of modern businesses, enabling them to automate processes, improve efficiency, and analyze data to make better decisions. IT departments are typically responsible for managing the technology infrastructure of a company, including servers, networks, and workstations.

What is OT?

OT refers to using technology to monitor and control physical processes, such as manufacturing, transportation, and building systems. OT is typically focused on real-time data collection and analysis, with the goal of optimizing operations and improving efficiency. Examples of OT applications include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and building automation systems (BAS). OT is an essential component of many industries, enabling them to monitor and control critical processes in real time, which is essential for maintaining safety, quality, and productivity. OT departments are typically responsible for managing the technology infrastructure of a company's physical operations, including sensors, controllers, and actuators.

IT vs OT: What's the Difference?

The main difference between IT and OT is their focus. IT is focused on information processing and communication, while OT is focused on physical process control and monitoring. IT is typically concerned with data at rest, while OT is concerned with data in motion. This means that IT is primarily concerned with the accuracy, confidentiality, and availability of data, while OT is primarily concerned with the reliability, safety, and performance of physical systems. Another key difference between IT and OT is their underlying technology. IT is typically based on general-purpose hardware and software, such as servers, PCs, and enterprise software applications. OT, on the other hand, is typically based on specialized hardware and software, such as sensors, controllers, and custom software applications. This makes OT more complex and specialized than IT, requiring specialized skills and knowledge.

Why IT and OT Need to Work Together

While IT and OT have different focuses and technologies, they are both essential components of modern businesses. In fact, many businesses are now recognizing the need for these two departments to work together more closely, in order to achieve better outcomes.

For example, IT can provide valuable support to OT by providing data analytics and visualization tools, which can help OT teams to identify patterns and trends in their data. This can enable OT teams to optimize their processes, reduce waste, and improve overall performance.

On the other hand, OT can provide valuable support to IT by providing real-time data streams, which can help IT teams to monitor the health and performance of their technology infrastructure. This can enable IT teams to proactively identify and resolve issues, before they become critical.

In order to achieve these benefits, it's important for IT and OT teams to work together closely, and to develop a shared understanding of each other's goals, priorities, and technologies. This may require cross-training, joint projects, and other collaborative efforts, but the benefits can be substantial.


IT and OT are two essential components of modern businesses, each with its own distinct focus and technology. While they are different, they are also complementary and can work together to achieve better outcomes. By recognizing the differences between IT and OT, and by developing a collaborative approach

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