At the Inflection Point: Oil and Gas Digital Transformation

Author: Julia Ochinero, VP of Marketing, Maana
At the Inflection Point: Oil and Gas Digital Transformation

In a plenary session at CERAWeek earlier this month – a panel discussed digital transformation and what it would take to get to – and past – “the inflection point.”  There was no debate on whether or not we are “here” at the inflection point – it was more about what it would take to get us “across” and to the other side.

Below are my top ten takeaways from the session.

Participants in this panel included David Hicks, Senior Vice President, Upstream Energy IHS Markit; Yuri Sebregts, Executive Vice President Technology & Chief Technology Officer Royal Dutch Shell plc; Babur Ozden, Founder & Chief Executive Officer Maana, Inc.; Lal Karsanbhai, Executive President, Automation Solutions Emerson; Dr. Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Chief Technology Officer Saudi Aramco.

  1. Oil and gas industry has more data than any other in the world – We’ve organized it and now we need to use it to make best decisions possible. Saudi Aramco’s CTO shared that in their surface data alone, there are 3 billion data points per day generated by its facilities.   
  2. We are at inflection point in digital transformation – but need to pull the switch on a few things to get to the other side. Yuri Sebregts, EVP and CTO at Royal Dutch Shell was emphatic we are at the inflection point throughout the session.
  3. Humans (the knowledge workers) need to move on to more creative solution building (We’ve proven machines are better at diagnostics.)
  4. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) need to be given tools and time to develop the models and use cases themselves. Babur Ozden, Maana founder and CEO emphasized that SMEs remain a critical component of overall success of any digital transformation initiative.)
  5. We are not looking at a big fixed plan over many years (which is good for incremental, not transformation approaches.). We are needing to go step-by-step and pick use cases that are successful and scale them up. Yuri Sebregts, EVP and CTO at Royal Dutch Shell shared the importance of taking a more nimble approach.
  6. Two out of three use cases will – not – go into production – but that isn’t failure – it’s a part of the process. It is about finding the single one that is the right one and moving fast. Point made by Babur Ozden, Maana founder and CEO. 
  7. We need to capture the imagination of the next (younger) generation with AI etc.  They are critical and do not see the cognitive approaches to interpretation as a threat.
  8. The transformational journey is a two-track approach – you have your longer-term infrastructure investment you need to be building as part of digitization and then short-term trialing of applications that will sit upon the infrastructure.
  9. The investment in digitalization becomes self-funding as the cost of technology is less than the money you make from its value (doing things better, faster).
  10. The biggest value overall you can expect at the end of the digital transformation  journey is the ability to make better decisions faster. On that point – all on the panel agreed.

I invite you to view the link to the session in its entirety (about 40 minutes).



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