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Driving Business Intelligence through Smart Platforms in the Oil & Gas Industry

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by Sampath Kumar

In recent months, we have seen major fluctuations in oil prices, mainly due to stagnating demand, geopolitical instability and the emergence of new energy sources. Because the U.S. market is moving toward energy self-sufficiency and the global GDP balance is shifting east, the demand dynamic is increasingly focused on emerging markets. Many industry experts believe the current price of oil may level out or even decline farther, squeezing both topline growth and profit margins at oil and gas firms all along the production stream.

One of the ways forward-thinking oil and gas firms are facing this challenge is by investing in high-end data analytics platforms that can create real-time business intelligence (BI). The goal is to capture and analyze data that will lead to improved exploration efforts, oil recovery, drilling accuracy, project delivery and equipment maintenance and safety.

Though paying careful attention to data is an approach that certainly delivers its due rewards, the exercise does not come without it challenges, including, especially, building a system to handle such huge volumes of data. The proliferation of sensor technology means that each oil field can generate huge numbers of unique data points. Upstream operations are particularly complex, involving both structured and unstructured data that multiplies exponentially every day. For example, Chevron’s internal IT traffic alone exceeds 1.5 terabytes of data per day. Storing and archiving these huge datasets, and analyzing and converting them into actual business insight has become an entire industry in itself.

CIOs must figure out how to interpret and convert all of this information into actionable insights. The need is to develop highly specific, customized and reliable solutions that fit directly into enterprise business KPIs. For example, a fool-proof predictive maintenance solution, which is known to be 40 percent more cost effective than a reactive maintenance program, can significantly reduce operational cost for an upstream firm.

I recently had a chance to talk with Ameer Saithu, chief strategy officer for Engineering Services at Infosys, about his ideas for data platforms in the oil and gas industry. He was one of the experts who joined me in June at the ISG Imagine Your Future Workshop: Oil & Gas in Houston. Read his ideas blog here: Engineering Information Management.

About the author

Sampath and his team help enterprises leverage engineering services to address the needs of IT in engineering and accelerate time to market for product development teams. Sampath has more than 30 years of experience in engineering services and software product development and management. Prior to ISG, Sampath led the engineering services of Tata Consultancy Services in North America where he provided innovative solutions in Product Lifecycle Management, Embedded Software Development, Product Engineering and Plant Solutions for multiple Fortune 500 companies. He also led the Aerospace and Process Manufacturing business units and drove key business initiatives for engineering and manufacturing customers that included marquee Fortune 100 clients. Before joining TCS, Sampath led the Infosys Automotive business units in North America and Europe.