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Operational Technology

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"Operational Technology"

This is where common sense and human nature both team up and help IT specialists, "Smell the coffee!"

The best IT systems normally have one particular point of failure in amongst the assessed risks.  In companies operating without OT, this point of failure is amazingly not always acknowledged or even assessed.

What is this point of failure?


OT gives us a label so that we can evaluate what will happen when we put our system called "perfect" into our world called "real life."

It ensures we have plans in place for when the individual working on a particular day happens to press CTRL ALT and 3 whilst the person next to them accidentally and simulaneously places their cup on the ENTER key thus activating the hidden configuration menu.

It ensures that the scenario where the test results prove that the system operates 376.793% faster than the previous version and the fact that these results only occur if the operator happens to be logged in for less than 1 hour and has an IT degree (or other suitably relevant qualification)  is noticed. Error messages after all are clicked without even reading them.  (after all, a "fatal" system error?  We all know that doesn't mean somebody is going to die:   Don't we?)

So here's the secret. 

  • Get all the experts in a room together and ask them to explain the risks.
  • Ask the experts to provide reasonable mitigation against said risks
  • Take notes and then go away.
    • Put yourself in the position of these four individuals:
      • person A) deliberately wants to screw up your system (i don't know why - ask them!)
      • person B) really doesn't care about anything at all (no, you are correct, he shouldn't still work for you - who's fault is that!)
      • person C) just wants to do their job and go home (Really not a bad thing - even if it frustrates you at times)
      • person D) is really motivated (possibly intelligent) and really wants to push your project forward. (accept all the help you can get)
      • person E) wants to try and steal from your company.  (and probably already has!)
  • Fix the gaps in the mitigation to ensure that A and B can't mess up your system, C can do their job without a, "Critical Error," Message, and D is given sufficient information when this messes up for you to find the cause but ensure D cannot create their own user, which bypasses the error messages and thuis means you don't get the feedback you need.  
  • Understand, unfortunately, there is always a person E.
  • Finally  - "No Risk" equals "Poor Risk Assessment."  Associate "no risk" with "personal agenda" and you will probably not go far wrong.  Understand the risks - don't accept there aren't any.

Operational Technology is a key but often overlooked construct; it involves construction of procedures and policies around technology which ensure that technology can be utilised with all risks mitigated.

Well organised and thought through OT essentially delivers efficiency and happy people - what more could you want?

(OK OK , profit, attendance, sales etc etc etc..  they are inextricably linked you know.)





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