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Podcast: Digital Innovations in Oil and Gas with Lewis Gillhespy

Lewis Gillhespy joins renowned speaker, author and podcast host Geoffrey Cann to discuss how companies can undertake a successful digital transformation.

Prominent speaker, author and trainer Geoffrey Cann has built a reputation in the industry for driving innovation and change. He also hosts the only Oil and Gas broadcast dedicated to digital innovation. Rockflow’s Lewis Gillhespy was interviewed by Geoffrey for his podcast series that focusses on talking to digital innovators throughout the world of oil and gas.


Podcast Overview: Transforming subsurface companies in the Digital Age – Blueprint and Barriers

In this podcast, Lewis addresses the increasing need for Oil and Gas upstream companies to undergo digital transformation. As the digital age matures, the imperative to transform becomes more pressing. The transformation promises several benefits, including:

  • Enhanced business insights
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Increased employee engagement

The risks associated with not transforming are also rising. The existing industrial-era structures and systems are ill-suited for the high-quality data requirements necessary for modern operations. Oil and gas companies not transforming are “drowning in data” whilst those large and mid-size O&G companies that have undergone a successful digital transformation are quick to gain competitive advantages.


Challenges of the Industrial-Era Model

The challenge for any successful transformation is to simplify the traditional industrial-era model, which inadvertently promoted highly complex systems:

  1. Independent Value Chains: Different segments of the value chain operated independently, lacking end-to-end integration
  2. Autonomous Regional Offices: Regional offices had the freedom to develop their own ways of working, with their own preferred IT applications resulting in non-standardized processes
  3. Senior champion to lead cross-functional change: Data flows rapidly between departments and functions, an end-to-end solution requires cross-functional change. Often assigning one IT or data department only tackles the symptoms whilst failing to address the cause
  4. Culture tolerant of bad data: Poor data quality was tolerated, with a culture of praising “data heroes” who corrected errors, or geologists and reservoir engineers, who are expected to routinely re-interpret legacy data, verses creating data with the right quality in the right format from the get-go

This resulted in a “hairball architecture” – a complex, tangled system of IT applications with multiple bespoke solutions connect and flowing data between them.


Historical success despite inefficiencies

Despite these inefficiencies, the traditional model was highly successful for decades, making the O&G sector extremely profitable. The model’s success led to widespread adoption across the industry. However, this success came at the cost of poor data quality.


The path forward

To harness the benefits of the digital age, companies must unravel the “hairball architecture” by simplifying their systems to allow for rapid improvement of data quality. This involves:

  • Standardising how work is done: That reduces variations
  • Simplified systems: Reducing the number of data sources and improving their quality
  • Controlled data management: Implementing systems that are easier to control, measure, and improve
  • Culture change: Training people to a new way of working and how best to treat data as an asset

The challenge lies in untangling the “hairball” of data complexity to create a streamlined and efficient digital ecosystem. In doing so a competitive business advantage is being created through:

  1. Historical low-cost operatorship – improvements through automated processes and increased staff productivity from reduced time spent in locating and re-interpreting data
  2. Modernised ways of working – with new business insights founded on high-quality data, such as advanced analytics and AI
  3. Continuous improvement – by unlocking a learning organization where those processes improved upon at an asset level (e.g. automation) can be rapidly adopted across all other assets

In conclusion, while the transformation to a digital age poses significant challenges for subsurface companies, following a proven blueprint with off the shelf solutions avoids common pitfalls that then unlock substantial benefits, positioning companies to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

To listen to the full podcast with Lewis and Geoffrey – enjoy on Spotify or  Apple Podcasts

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