Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

127 INDUSTRIALS & MANUFACTURING In addition to integrated security and being part of an expansive partner ecosystem, decision-makers across the board said they valued integration with standard productivity tools. “Most of our manufacturing customers are telling us that Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft 365 more broadly, is a missioncritical platform given the changes in the way they work,” says Rodriguez Lepage, referencing the rise in remote and hybrid working. Microsoft has a strong partner ecosystem and has the de facto office collaboration environment for manufacturers that value integrated security tools and being able to deliver integration with standard tools. One current struggle for manufacturers is the hundreds of different protocols. “Some will have thousands of different vendors, equipment, proprietary protocols and applications that they’re trying to stitch together,” says Rodriguez Lepage. “They’re all looking for help with digitalisation, with IT connectors to the enterprise systems and OT connectors to manufacturing execution systems (MES). “Connecting them and creating a unified and extensible factory data model also came out as a high priority for manufacturers to accelerate their digitalisation efforts. Ease of use in terms of interoperability with the standard tools is also important.” The report also focuses on issues such as the energy crisis and climate change. Rodriguez Lepage adds: “The energy crisis has put a spotlight on investments, but it’s also been good for sustainability. For example, how do you reduce your energy consumption or optimise it?” Future investment was a key point of the survey, as well as to help guide Microsoft on its next steps for the Cloud for Manufacturing. Executives were given a three-year horizon to look towards. “In terms of the IT, OT and ET responders, there is a lot of alignment on where we are today, but differing views on whether they’re going to stay on-premises or when they move to the cloud,” says Rodriguez Lepage. “The engineering executives understand PLM, the tools they use to design plants and solutions, so they have more comfort, but also want to keep it close – they want the private cloud. Similarly, the folks in the factory acknowledge there’s benefits to moving to the cloud, but when it comes to MES and SCADA applications, they are much more conservative. If they do, they want to make sure it is tightly managed and secure – there’s still that perception that the private cloud would be the immediate stepping stone.” “The IT/OT divide isn’t really a divide; it is a natural tension. IT has skills and responsibilities in terms of securing networks and access to systems and delivering things like the enterprise system tools at scale. They clearly understand “ Many are well on their journey to digitalisation, but they are struggling to scale out” ALFONSO RODRIGUEZ LEPAGE, MICROSOFT