Fearing cyber attacks is no longer a valid reason to delay the digital transformation of your industrial assets. Actually, when implemented with the right solutions, staving off those attacks can be a key part of the digital transformation process.
Hexagon is a leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions that provide technologies for urban and production ecosystems in more than 50 countries around the world. Hexagon’s PPM division transforms data to help create digital assets that enable smarter design, construction and operation across the lifecycle.
With a slew of new infrastructure projects in Australia already announced or fast-tracked due to the pandemic, the economic recovery from COVID-19 is likely to be infrastructure-led and a critical reason for engineering and construction businesses to refresh their approach this year.
Infrastructure is more connected and autonomous than ever before, and revised procurement requirements for these projects will likely leave behind businesses that do not have strong digital assets and automated processes to manage large-scale projects. With increased requirements for collaboration between project partners and shared access to data sources and shorter timeframes for delivery, businesses with stronger digital assets can stand out from their competitors.
According to Microsoft, back in 2018, three out of five businesses throughout the Asia Pacific region delayed their digitalization plans due to a fear of cyberattacks. Fast forward to 2020, a McKinsey survey revealed that the pandemic has propelled the region’s businesses digitalization forward by four years on average compared with the rate of growth across the previous two years.
It looks like our region is actually picking up the pace with digital transformation thanks to the pandemic; however, our engineering and construction industries are still lagging behind others when it comes to digitalizing their wider business processes.
Digital transformation is far more than just enabling your frontline workers with iPads. True transformation takes all sources of your information, captures them in a digital format and brings them together so everyone can benefit. The information is aligned with smarter processes and automation to help increase transparency, distribute responsibility and improve productivity across the business.
Rather than increasing vulnerability, a business-wide digital transformation also helps safeguard against cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks on businesses have been on the rise, and they are increasingly sophisticated. Recently they have even targeted weaknesses in the operational technology (OT) of infrastructure, which is concerning for companies working across large-scale projects or critical infrastructure.
In February, hackers remotely accessed a small-town Florida water treatment plant in the United States, briefly changing the amounts of lye in drinking water. While this attempt was caught before real harm was caused to the city’s 15,000 inhabitants, the higher levels of sodium hydroxide could have led to some serious illnesses.
Strong automated monitoring processes and sensor networks can help to isolate and prevent this style of attack before it has impact. In evaluating the potential for loss of life, damages, remediation and other threats to business continuity across any project, a strong digital business with PPM solutions in place can mitigate these risks and maximize project value.
In 2020, Hexagon acquired PAS Global, a leader in OT cybersecurity which specializes in protecting the technology that controls physical environments. PAS teams work with organizations to ensure the integrity of their OT environments from their sensors right the way through to the cloud. Sitting alongside Hexagon’s PPM suite – which takes unstructured data and turns it into digital assets – the joint proposition brings a much-needed security boost to large-scale or critical infrastructure.
Aside from increased security and transparency, there is a range of benefits to introducing PPM solutions business-wide, particularly in the engineering and construction sector. These include improving safety by reducing the room for human error behind most accidents, improving project delivery insights and connecting offices with the field to give true visibility into a project.
Businesses in the sector with our PPM solutions in place can typically see savings of around 30 to 35% during the design phase of projects. In the construction and commissioning phase, we often see up to 15 or 20% productivity gains.
From a cybersecurity perspective, PAS Cyber Integrity is the only software product on the market that gathers complete configuration information on proprietary industrial control systems and uses this data to detect changes and trigger investigatory protocols automatically. As a result, compliance and operational efforts can be reduced by up to 90%.
Supratim is the pre-sales director for Asia-Pacific at Hexagon’s PPM division. An innovative and action-oriented digital transformation advocate, Supratim has over 17 years of operational experience in the fields of business management, analysis, consulting, strategy definition, business development, sales engineering and enterprise & solution architecture. He serves the natural resources industry, working with owner operators and engineering, procurement and construction contractors.