The Death of Plant IT

Last night, I finally got to meet one of the legends of automation blogging, Mr. Jim Pinto. For those of you who don't know him, Jim started blogging before blogs existed; in fact before the Internet existed. In the 1980s, Jim was writing articles in automation magazines;  in the 90's he started newsletter emails and then moved into blogging as it evolved. I started subscribing to his email newsletter in the 90s when I was at Allen-Bradley, as Jim always had a strong opinion about our company back then.

Our conversation last night was really an extension of my last blog about moving to the cloud. As the adoption of this capability occurs in manufacturing, there will be a natural shrinkage, if not total loss, of the need for IT in the plant. The reason I say this so strongly is that today, the primary role of an IT group is performing integration of different systems and maintaining the PC infrastructure in the plant.

GE IP Cloud As machine power and intelligence increases at the point of control and wireless mobile technology accelerates, the need for integration will decrease. And I predict that both mobile tablets and cloud systems will be outsourced to third-party companies, as I previously suggested in my last blog post. Jim and I were pretty much aligned on this; the only thing we disagreed on was the timeline.

Based on my experience on where the industry is today, my prediction was for this to occur over a five to ten year period. Jim thinks this will occur in the next two to five years. To understand Jim's reason for this accelerated timeline, you will need to read his blog on this issue, as I am not going to steal his thunder, but I still disagree with him.

What are your thoughts around this topic, both the prediction it will occur and the timelines?

Quick update on my “living in the cloud experiences” - the Google chrome book worked flawlessly on a recent vacation, connected to the inflight Go-go wireless without an issue (you get 12 free sessions when you buy one). The same cannot be said for the Nest wireless thermostat; turned out it was incompatible with my system so I had to opt for the Honeywell wireless version. It lets me do everything the Nest does except analytics on my energy savings compared to others; will let you know how that goes.

Barry Lynch

Barry, Global Marketing Director – Automation Hardware at GE's Automation & Controls business, passionately believes that connected machines, mobile data analytics and workforce enablement don’t have to be hurdles in business today. He leads the strategic direction of the company’s automation and information systems programs to help customers apply the power of the Industrial Internet to their businesses. By connecting machines, data, insights and people, our technology solutions deliver critical insight for greater operational efficiency, effectiveness and optimization. Learn more about how Barry works at GE on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @BarryLynchGE.

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