Come talk to the IT and OT experts from Itron and Cisco at DistribuTECH 2020


As we enter into a new decade, technology is shaping our future faster than ever. Everything is becoming connected and managed by an app on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Utilities are no different. Consumers expect more from their utility than ever before – including detailed information on consumption rates, leak detection, outage information and rapid response to customer service requests. To provide this increased level of customer service, consumers now expect that their energy and water providers have deep and instantaneous knowledge of what’s happening in their distribution networks at any given time.

From the utility’s perspective, the rapid investment in new technologies such as industrial IoT (IIoT) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) means that more (traditionally siloed) stakeholder groups within these companies are looking to leverage the same infrastructure and components to support a broader range of needs. This is where we start to see the Information Technology (IT)/Operational Technology (OT) overlap begin to take shape in this space.

For example, many of today’s smart meters are capable of much more than basic meter-to-cash data transmission. Today’s smart meters are IIoT-connected “mini-computers” that are capable of using distributed intelligence to talk to each other, collectively make decisions and take action when and where it makes the most sense. Sophisticated solutions like these now touch multiple departments within a utility beyond the meter shop. From metering to operations, customer service, IT and now directly to consumers, these groups are realizing the need to work together to define common sets of operational processes to make their grid modernization strategies successful.

To help critical infrastructure providers achieve this goal, Itron and Cisco are working with utilities and cities around the world to deliver intelligent connectivity – networked solutions designed to leverage the right communications technology to support a diverse range of use cases for a diverse range of stakeholders and business objectives. A major part of this work is bringing the IT and operation teams together to start speaking the same language.

Here are three connection points between IT and OT to consider:

  1. Evolution of communications solutions – Systems that were traditionally built on proprietary technology are moving to open and interoperable network platforms, providing more capabilities.
  2. OT adapting to IT standards – Grid modernization requires the deployment of complex and interrelated systems that require increased cybersecurity measures. IT has long developed standards from an information security perspective and can help OT adapt to these best practices while ensuring the organization meets operational objectives. (examples: providers, upgrades and security processes)
  3. Keeping your shiny new network healthy – To streamline operations for IIoT networks, automated ways to understand maintenance and technology health are required and should work together to drive predictive maintenance and protect the network.

Additionally, here are three tips to get started on building a holistic IT + OT strategy:

  1. Develop a joint vision with shared goals. Bring all stakeholders to the table and learn to speak the same language (literally).
  2. Learn from your peers. Attend leading industry events like DISTRIBUTECH to take best practices from other cities and utilities to create your digitalization roadmap.
  3. Consult the experts. Lean on trusted industry partners like Itron and Cisco to help you define and achieve your IT/OT goals.

Be sure to stop by the Cisco (#1537) or Itron (#2609) booths at DISTRIBUTECH 2020, Jan 28-30, to learn more from the IT/OT experts. Discover more today by visiting

We look forward to helping you build your IT / OT partnership.

Through an innovative strategic partnership, Itron and Cisco solve critical, emerging challenges for utilities and cities through a reliable, secure and industry-leading IPv6-based field area network. Our solutions enable smart devices and sensors to use distributed intelligence and peer-to-peer communication to respond to changing conditions and support multiple energy and water use cases.