During my recent visit to Dubai and the Power At The Cloud event, I spent a short time talking with Jo Hart, Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Schneider Electric. During his presentation, Jo spoke about the convergence of IT and Operational Technology and why it has significant importance in terms of helping not only businesses, but also cities and economies to save energy. When I asked him to explain more about the convergence of IT and OT, his response was clear and concise.
Jo told me that the world of IT is rapidly changing, and our behaviours, everything that we see and do, is seen through the world of Mobile Technology. Smart-phones, tablets and iPad’s gather real-time user data, the real-time information that describes our daily routines.
But what interested me most about his comments was how Operational Technology is beginning to have an impact on the way we do things. “What’s really changing now is how our world is being implemented into the world of Operational Technology (OT). The technology we use day by day, is also deployed in data centres, in buildings, and it gives us great opportunity to see what’s going on, act, and really start to make changes for a more sustainable, more efficient future.”
Throughout Power At The Cloud there was effervescent interest in Smart-Technology, the systems that powered the Smart-Cities of the future, I asked Jo if he had been surprised by the interest in Smart-City solutions at this event? Jo told me that what he found to be most interesting was that as soon as you come to the Gulf countries in the Middle East there is a very different dynamic. There’s a real drive and focus, but most of all it’s about speed and it’s about making things happen. As stated by one of the Power At The Cloud panellists ‘In Europe we’ve had 400 years to build our cities, in the Middle East it’s not the same.”
“Over here in The Gulf we’ve only got a matter of years to really make the big changes happen, which therefore means we need to move faster, we need to think differently and above all we need to make the big things happen. The move towards integrating that IT technology into the Operational world has become ever more relevant to really drive change throughout The Gulf Countries, especially in terms of efficiency. It is important to really begin to optimise the systems and the processes behind the Smart Technology so that we don’t cook the planet, and most importantly, we don’t get to a position where we’re over consuming when we don’t really need to.”
When we consider the Gulf and the Middle East, it is assumed that most of the natural resources are more constrained, I asked Jo if, in his opinion, could it be that Smart-Cities are more relevant here than in other parts of the world where natural resources, such as water, are more readily available?
He told me that what stood out here in Dubai when compared to Western cities was that there is a heightened awareness of the challenges that come from Urbanisation and from rapid development which puts strain on many different cities and many different areas. “I think the move towards SMART is an interesting one, there is a big debate on whether SMART really exists, but it is really about the challenges people face; First and foremost urbanisation, more and more people moving into the large cities, how does the city rapidly solve the problems of congestion, mobility, moving people around? “
“Since I was last here in Dubai, the whole Metro and Transit system has now come in place, which speeds up and improves the efficiency of the city. So I think a lot of those issues, a lot of those challenges are in the forefront of people’s minds and everyone is looking for answers to see how they can make the difference happen right now. “
So I asked Jo, Are Schneider Electric part of the answer to these problems?
“Schneider Electric are always heavily engaged in a lot of the discussions about SMART. If you look at what Schneider Electric has done as a company, we’ve kind of been doing these things, for 30 odd years. The difference is that we’ve done them without calling them SMART or ‘Intelligent.’”
“When you look at the landscape, most of the key issues are things that people have to solve on a daily basis. It’s about power quality, it’s about mobility, it’s about the issue of getting a smarter, more comfortable, more efficient place to work. So all of those are the sorts of issues we’ve been dealing with through our classic business model. Now we have to apply the knowledge we have gained in our thirty-year experience and integrate the world of software and the world of IT to really seek out and solve out the big opportunities for change. As soon as you start to understand the issues, you can use platforms like OT to see what’s going on and start to act upon it. “
For more information on this subject, Jo’s presentation can be found here