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Evolving digital for oil & gas


Evolving digital for oil & gas

October 8, 2019

  • Derek Mathieson, Chief Marketing and Technology Officer at Baker Hughes, shares his thoughts on the evolution of digital within the oil and gas industry. 

Navigating the energy transition will require new ways of working and new technology innovations to support these future operations. The definition of industrial technology will itself evolve, as we combine hardware innovation with digital capabilities like edge computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make every asset—and every operational environment—intelligent.

With this evolution in mind, the industry must move toward collaborative, ecosystem-focused approaches to technology, especially when it comes to digital. The last several years have shown that no one single expertise tackles this challenge alone. Rather, combining deep energy domain knowledge and industrial software experts with pure-play software, AI, and computing companies creates something powerful. These combined specialties fit the oil and gas industry’s digital transformation needs—a step change in how we capture and analyze data to answer changing business dynamics. Energy technology providers such as Baker Hughes are in the same position, seeking new ways to improve core operations using disruptive tech. That means applying analytics to our own operational data, while also looking at how we create AI applications that could improve the services we provide for operators.

As a lifelong technologist and career oil and gas professional, I see promise in these disruptive, advanced digital technologies. I believe the industry at large shares that sentiment. I’ve personally seen the evolution of digital projects from first movers in this industry, who tackled the challenges of adopting cloud computing, big data wrangling, and cultural pushback against new technologies. As these projects have been underway, I’ve also seen the power of Moore’s law and how recent developments in edge computing and GPUs are further accelerating processing power and unlocking new potential. I believe in the power of data to deliver crucial insights about the equipment, people and processes at the edge. Delivering new levels of productivity, efficiency, and safety requires that we consider data a critical asset in everyday operations.

However, for this to be done successfully, it means bringing together the hardware and software worlds, and IT and OT operations. It also requires the use of the most advanced AI capabilities available to drive value from data. Collaborating in new ways to bring these niche specialties together will help drive that holistic approach for ourselves and for our customers.

The industry needs to develop technology with an innovation mindset. Many of us know, understand, and hold the expertise and domain knowledge at the edge. I believe that combining a deep specialty and unique technology strength in Artificial Intelligence with a strong equipment portfolio and skillset, we can implement easy, fast and more scalable digital solutions for future growth- across the oil and gas value chain.

I look forward to seeing where the industry goes from here. Simplifying our approach to AI with this idea of a collaborative approach will help operators focus on what matters most: running their oil and gas business safely and efficiently, and more holistically tackle the challenges of the energy transition.

The reality of digital today is that oil and gas operators need to move quickly, and executing is difficult. Evolving the way in which we approach this opportunity means we can tackle complicated digital transformations with agility and a new combined expertise that will deliver a more competitive offering and better outcomes. 


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