IT versus OT

When looking for an IT asset management solution, it’s important to understand the difference between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). In a nutshell, IT is the technology necessary for monitoring, managing and securing information for business applications. It combines technologies for networking, information processing, enterprise data centers, and cloud systems to manage data and applications. Meanwhile, ‘OT’ refers to hardware and software that detects or causes change through the direct monitoring and/or control of industrial equipment, assets, processes and events.

The convergence of IT and OT is necessary for successful operations; having a grasp of how these play their part in keeping your company moving will ensure efficient IT governance frameworks.

What is information technology (IT)?

‘IT’ generally refers to networks and devices that work together to store, control and deliver information. It’s an umbrella term that covers the creation, processing, exchange, storage and retrieval of data.

IT is particularly concerned with electronic data; it’s the data processing systems that serve as the repositories of an organization’s information and is responsible for making data available to relevant users for business purposes.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and cloud-based networks are examples of IT. Their main function is to ensure the proper management and security of data.

What is operational technology (OT)?

OT is the collection of hardware and software configured to trigger, control, monitor and send data to an IT system in industrial systems. Unlike IT, which is primarily connected to the Internet, OT deals primarily with physical devices.

OT is used in the context of an organization’s industrial operations as it’s used to manage industrial equipment and systems, such as highly specialized systems found in energy, manufacturing, robotics, waste control, and oil and gas industries.

Examples of OT include robots, industrial control systems (ICS), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and computer numerical control (CNC). ATMs, kiosks, connected transportation, weather stations, and electric vehicle charging systems are all also considered OT.

Nowadays, OT has become more advanced, integrating technology such as automation and monitoring for more seamless operations. These have helped OT devices become better linked in complex computer system networks, allowing users to perform at a much faster and more efficient rate.

Key differences between IT and OT

IT and OT are two important technological components of any organization. While they seem similar, especially in how they benefit operations, they are distinct. Here are some of their key differences:


IT deals with monitoring, managing and securing core functions in data centers and the cloud. It focuses on broad business needs, such as communication, transactions and information storage. It’s primarily focused on electronic data and is centered on an organization’s front-end informational activities.

By contrast, OT is related to an organization’s industrial operations and is concerned with machine-driven data, physical devices and optimizing processes. OT is related to back-end production, specifically machines.


IT is often more cost-effective than OT. That’s not to say that one is a more worthwhile investment than the other, especially because industrial organizations will likely require both. That said, OT is generally more expensive because it deals with machinery and will need to be maintained more often. Fortunately, entry costs of OT devices and platforms have dropped significantly, prompting companies to allocate their budgets better to come up with a productive mix of both IT and OT resources.


When IT fails, it affects a lot of the company’s internal operations, particularly concerning data loss. When OT fails, on the other hand, physical assets become wonky, which could lead to machine failure and stalled operations.


IT devices are simpler and easier to manufacture, so they tend to last longer. In contrast, OT devices have to constantly keep up with new advances in tech, so they can become outdated (and require replacements or upgrades) much more quickly.

IT/OT convergence

The question isn’t whether IT or OT is better–companies nowadays must recognize that both are needed for successful operations, but that’s also only possible when there’s convergence between the two. Tech convergence isn’t a new concept, but companies are currently exploring better ways to seamlessly integrate their IT and OT systems for a more unified and comprehensive suite, whether that’s through application portfolio management tools or asset management solutions like Flexera One.

IT/OT convergence is a must in today’s business landscape because it’s key to improving efficiency, reducing errors, cutting costs, enhancing workflows and gaining competitive advantages. It’s imperative for companies who are hoping to scale operations.

Converge IT and OT with Flexera One

One of the first steps to converging IT and OT systems is to employ solutions that can unify the two components into a single management platform. Flexera One is designed to help companies get a full view of their digital assets for better management. Learn how you can use it to achieve IT/OT convergence today!