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Bridging the Gap: Intersectionality of IT and OT

Craig Cavanaugh | February 15, 2024

How TRC’s Intelligent Grid Solutions Can Help Utilities Successfully Meet the Complex Challenges of the Energy Transition

As President of the Intelligent Grid Solutions sector at TRC, my team and I are passionate about resolving the many data, systems and technology challenges our clients face in today’s actively changing energy landscape. As the energy transition forces change in the traditional utility business model by emphasizing decarbonization and decentralization, an increase in bidirectional networks is fundamentally changing the physics of our power grid. In this context, the intersectionality of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is introducing a new set of complexities that utilities must carefully consider and plan for to succeed.

The Challenge of the IT/OT Convergence

Traditionally, IT and OT have functioned in different domains within utilities; IT deals with business systems and data, while OT manages the real-time control and monitoring of grid operations. Now, with advancements in technology and an increasing volume of data, IT and OT are converging, leading to a more integrated and complicated utility technology ecosystem.

Growth of Renewable Energy: The push to net zero emissions continues to drive growth in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, as well as battery storage to support the intermittent load from these sources. Integration of renewables into the grid will require advanced IT systems for monitoring and control, closely interacting with OT systems managing the flow of the traditional power grid.

Decentralization of Energy: The move towards decentralized energy, including rooftop solar panels, community-based projects, and even electric vehicle batteries, requires a more sophisticated grid management system. IT plays a crucial role in managing the data generated from these distributed sources, while OT is responsible for the real-time control and coordination.

Smart Grid Implementation: The push for a more reliable and resilient grid has increased the implementation of smart grid technologies. These technologies leverage advanced IT solutions for data analytics, predictive maintenance and grid optimization and will require integration with traditional OT systems.

Data Management:  The growth in DERs and smart devices, including smart meters and IoT devices, will continue to increase the volume of data being collected and transmitted. Effectively managing, analyzing and deriving actionable insights from this diverse data pool requires robust IT capabilities, along with a need to integrate this information into OT systems for real-time decision-making.

All the above pose challenges in data flow, interoperability and overall system optimization.  Overcoming this requires a strategic and cohesive approach between IT and Operations regarding data management and system control.

Conquering Complexity: TRC is Uniquely Positioned to Help

With deep subject matter expertise, industry leading consulting and a scaled, global team, TRC is uniquely positioned to bring cutting edge technology solutions to utilities as they rise to meet the power demands of today and tomorrow.

Purpose-Built: Unlike other technology solutions companies, TRC is structured with our clients’ business model in mind: the Intelligent Grid Solutions (IGS) team was designed specifically to support utilities with their IT/OT challenges. We focus on the technologies and domains that will be critical to the energy transition, including Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), management of Distributed Energy Resources (DER), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS), Analytics and the Cloud.

Deep Expertise: Our team of 700 engineers and consultants typically have over 15 years of experience in the utility industry across various levels and applications to help plan, deploy, manage and operate initiatives ranging from AMI 2.0 to Controls Centers of the future.  We bring credibility Day 1 because we not only understand technology integrations and implementations, but we intimately understand how a utility works.

Holistic View: Importantly, because TRC is an industry leader in power delivery engineering solutions, our IT/OT team is connected to a broader team focused on the planning, design and execution of critical power infrastructure. We are technologists, with access to a broad bench of experts who understand the underlying complexities of how energy is deployed and consumed, from generation to substations to power lines to distributed energy resources.  This makes TRC uniquely able to tackle any utility challenge holistically.

Tailored Approach: We are unique in that our project scopes can and do cover both strategy and technology deployment, setting us apart from other firms who may only be able to execute in one area. We focus on use cases and specific pain points rather than playbooks, and we drive to maximize business value of both existing and new systems.

Next Steps: A Vision for the Future

The energy transition and pace of technological change is rapid. Utilities must be agile and adaptable to implement new technologies, upgrade systems and ensure compatibility between these evolving IT and OT solutions. Effectively managing challenges created by the IT/OT convergence and intersectionality requires a holistic approach, strategic planning and a collaborative organizational mindset. It involves not only technological integration, but also cultural and operational changes to optimize the potential benefits of a more sustainable and decentralized energy landscape.

To learn more about our IT/OT and Intelligent Grid Solutions, please visit our website.

Craig Cavanaugh

Craig Cavanaugh is the President of TRC’s Digital Solutions Sector. He has been a pioneer in establishing software-focused solutions for the utility industry, covering everything from meter data management to distributed energy resources. A chemical engineer who possesses a Master of Business Administration, Craig has more than 30 years of professional experience applying advanced technology to complex problems in environmental engineering, telecommunications and utilities. Contact Craig Cavanaugh at

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