August 2021, Vol. 246, No. 8

Features

Making Digital Transformation a Reality

By Miguel Valdez, Growth Manager, Kongsberg Digital   

Unlocking the value of process data through digital transformation not only offers oil and gas operators huge benefits, but it is also an essential step for businesses to remain efficient and competitive in the future.   

However, many digital initiative projects either fail completely or do not deliver the rewards expected. Why is this, and what steps can be taken to ensure digital success?  

Digitization and digital transformation are not new to the oil and gas industry. For decades, operators have been adopting new technology and utilizing data analytics to try to gain greater efficiency and reliability, increase productivity and enhance safety. Despite these efforts though, the predicted potential locked within the data rarely has been fully realized.   

Indeed, according to McKinsey, 70% of complex, large-scale change programs do not reach their stated goals. Is it any wonder, therefore, that there is a reasonable portion of skepticism throughout the industry when it comes to discussing digital transformation for the future?  

Although there have been disappointments in the past, these need to be overcome to start to truly harness the benefits of digitalization. Success lies in a fundamentally new operating model with enterprise-wide implementation and cooperation.   

One of the problems with small digitalization initiatives, or pilot projects, is that the full benefit of data lies in a holistic view of operations. Without an enterprise-wide, global view, efforts to optimize assets and their processes may have a detrimental impact elsewhere or fail to consider business-wide goals and strategies.   

The starting place must be in understanding and defining the true purpose of digitalization and not treating it as a project using the same equipment and execution plans that have been used for years. This is a new era and requires a new methodology.  

‘Evergreen’ Digital  

For digitalization initiatives to succeed, a change in mindset and approach are required with high level, enterprise-wide buy-in, sharing, collaboration and coordination. After all, the benefits of digitalization are not small – they are enormous. These solutions can and should change the way an entire business operates, from finance to maintenance to operations.   

By integrating, contextualizing and operationalizing data, individual users have access to a clear digital picture (digital twin) of the whole business. Then, the true value and power of the masses of data being produced across all parts of the business are unlocked.  

A digital twin needs to incorporate all parts of an asset’s data and it should be agnostic to data source and architecture. Looking at systems already in place, from chemical refineries to offshore platforms, much of the work to connect this data is already done.   

Like oil, however, data require refining to add value. With the support of advanced analytics, which use the latest machine learning algorithms, masses of data can be transformed into valuable, meaningful and relevant business data that will enable faster, smarter decision making and provide valuable input into business strategy.   

Contextualized data can be analyzed to identify patterns and correlations, and, with enough data, the machine learning algorithms can predict scenarios and anticipate operational needs.   

Overall, the value of a digital twin should not be underestimated. It presents a new way of looking at the life of assets and investments in asset development that is way beyond the scope of capex, project or installation. Assets can be handled more efficiently, the value of investments optimized and asset lifetime maximized.   

Tangible Results    

Digitalizing just one part of an operation instantly limits the impact this technology has to offer. A digital twin presents an opportunity to provide context-specific access and insights into assets for individual users wherever they are. The challenge, however, is to align digital initiatives with tangible results across the organization – and this requires a shift in mindset.  

Buy-in from stakeholders is also important. Change can be unsettling and is often met with resistance. An open approach is needed to foster collaboration and create understanding about the goals of digital transformation and how it will benefit everyone.  

This further increases the chances of success, regardless of geographic location, because sharing information helps ensure the right and the best decisions are being made.  

By engaging people at every level from the very beginning of the digital journey, collaboratively developing goals, ambitions and the reasons behind them, companies gain buy-in from teams and a shared commitment to working together. Further, this advances the mindset that digitalization is not finite but an always growing, scaling and changing “evergreen” solution with new use cases being identified and developed almost every day.  

With the right digital twin, a partner that understands the needs and challenges of the oil industry, and an enterprise-wide approach, the path toward digital transformation is cleared, and new possibilities and opportunities will come to light.   

A digital twin designed specifically for the needs of heavy industry, such as Kognitwin Energy digital twin, goes beyond just visualizing assets. It also supports smarter decision-making to benefit the global enterprise.  

Summary  

The time for digitalization is now. The technology is ready, and data are ready and waiting. Although success requires an enterprise-wide approach, which may seem daunting, the benefits cannot be ignored.   

Do not limit the possibilities the technology has to offer. Consider what higher-level business challenges you want to solve and connect these to the value of your digital twin. The possibilities are endless and are only really limited by the imagination.  

The path to success requires a fresh approach that brings all systems, data and people together. Through this collaboration, both organizational adoption and digital transformation will be accelerated.   

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