PAS CMO answers 7 questions on the state of the industry

The recently appointed chief marketing officer reveals his thoughts on the state of the industry and how the company will continue to protect clients in the future

PAS Global, a solution provider of industrial control system (ICS) cybersecurity, process safety and asset reliability in the energy, power and process industries, recently announced the appointment of Matthew Selheimer as chief marketing officer. As CMO, Selheimer is responsible for leading marketing globally, with specific focus on expanding awareness of the PAS value proposition and driving demand for PAS solutions to ensure safety and reliability in the face of risk and cyber threats.

Selheimer is a technology executive with more than two decades of experience in cybersecurity, IT operations and enterprise business applications across marketing, sales, and technical roles. Most recently, he served as CMO of Alert Logic where he led programs for demand creation, customer engagement and strengthening the company's partner ecosystem.

Matthew Selheimer answered 7 questions about the organization and how technology is affecting the industry.

What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your company?

  1. PAS provides software solutions that help companies improve cybersecurity, process safety, and asset reliability.
  2. We broadly support industries that rely on industrial control systems with deep expertise in the energy, process, and power industries.
  3. What we do really matters – it not only improves profitability and protects business reputations, but it also saves lives.

What new technologies are driving your product development and why?

Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 initiatives are driving investments in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Big Data, AI and machine learning, and 5G. Each of these are intended to produce significant benefits in the ability to manage and optimize industrial operations up and down the value chain, however, they also bring significant new risks. The plant is now the epicenter for malicious actors who are seeking not only to disrupt businesses but also economies and governments. PAS has deep expertise in industrial control systems and is driving our roadmap to improve OT cybersecurity, while also continuing to advance our offerings for operational risk management in support of these new technology investments.

How does the Industrial Internet of Things figure in your business strategy?

Long gone are the days where industrial operations could rely on air gaps and security by obscurity strategies, if they were ever even viable approaches. The explosion in the number of IIoT initiatives and devices holds tremendous promise for improved productivity, efficiency, and performance. For example, organizations can better understand where they are wasting energy through real-time data to take advantage of off-hour consumption. Increased sharing of data can improve coordination between supply chain partners to optimize production and delivery times to meet customer demand or reduce production to avoid building up inventories unnecessarily. Predictive maintenance is yet another example. But all of these benefits require greater connectivity across systems. The bad actors out there know this and better understand operational technology today and are getting smarter every day. This means that the cyber threats to industrial process safety and reliability are also growing every day. Our business strategy at PAS is focused on addressing this challenge for our customers so they can confidently leverage IIoT in order to attain the benefits with less risk.

How will machine automation and controls alter the way companies staff their operations in the future?

Machine automation and control systems have already had a tremendous positive impact on optimizing performance and streamlining industrial operations. Software solutions, such as those PAS provides, help organizations analyze and optimize their control loops, reduce alarm noise, ensure visibility into the health of safety instrumented systems (SIS) and other independent protection layers (IPLs), and manage operating boundaries of a facility. This helps identify and reduce risks to improve safety and compliance, thus, making it possible to leverage more automation and controls.

How is the development of software solutions impacting your requirements for hardware?

PAS is a leading software provider for industrial control systems and operational technology. A foundational part of our business at PAS is understanding the complexity of the various control systems installed across industrial facilities. The specialized equipment in distributed control systems (DCS), for example, with their proprietary hardware components, architectures, software, and interfaces has long been a challenge to manage. An engineer, who understands one vendor’s system has typically gained that expertise over many years and it will not translate to another vendor’s system. PAS has invested significant R&D effort to collect, cleanse, aggregate, and normalize this data so that it can be analyzed across systems to improve safety and reliability as well as reduce cyber risk. Our software, thus, makes it possible for organizations to gain much better visibility into their existing hardware investments and we stay current on the latest technologies so that we can offer the same capability for our customers as they invest in hardware going forward.

As engineering and IT continue their convergence, which one is and/or will be leading the direction of future automation and technology at your organization?

At PAS, we believe that OT can learn from IT and IT can learn from OT – it’s not a one-way street. IT teams have developed significant experience around agile and DevOps principles as well as security monitoring and threat management. These are more new disciplines for those coming from the OT side. However, when you are managing technology in industrial operations, the body of experience and knowledge that those on the OT side have is critical. That is true not only in terms of the knowledge of OT systems, many of which are highly proprietary, but also In terms of how to manage safety and reliability in a facility. That is a foreign world for IT practitioners. In IT if a server is misconfigured, it can be shut down and a new one spun up in minutes with limited impact to business operations. In an OT context, the reconfiguration of a distributed control system or safety instrumented system, could impact the lives of those working in the plant and living in the surrounding community. Our view is that both OT and IT should be benefiting from one another and leading together not one vs. the other.

Looking into the future, how will technology change your company over the next five years?

That’s the great thing about the future and being in the software business. It’s hard to predict just how much change there will be in the next 2-3 years, let alone the next five. The fact is, things will never be slower than they are right now. The world is operating at a faster and faster pace, and that is true for industrial operations as it is for everything. As a software provider, we vigilantly keep a pulse on our customers challenges and opportunities. We then make it our objective to innovative to address those challenges and opportunities. Right now, the industry focus is on Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0, IIoT, 5G, and more. Just five years ago, the most talked about startups were Uber and Tesla. We’re still talking about them today, but neither of them are the only options available in the markets they created and neither of them hold a monopoly on the future. That’s what makes technology and software so exciting. The future is up to all of us.