Big Data in Hazardous Industries – An Operational Perspective


We have become obsessed with big data, but we are already drowning in it. Success only comes when we can provide insight. Providing insight is easy in industries where the mass of data is clearly defined, as in retail for example. Other industries, however, are struggling with disparate data. How do you gain insight in this setting? This is not a simple case of data integration. This requires,

►     Translation

►     Aggregation

►     Visualisation

In order to do this, disparate data needs to be translated using a common currency, like risk for example. This correlation is tricky as Silos of information create complexity. This limits its accessibility – you need to be an expert to understand what the data tells you.

This leads to the “what’s in it for me?” question. Different people, in different roles and at different levels within an organisation will all have a different agenda, and so will see the data in a different ways. For example, Operations people will want to see the consequences of their actions – in their reality. What, where and when in Time, Space & Risk is the Operations view of the world.

As you move up the hierarchy, the what, where and when changes. Timeframes for example get longer. The yesterday, today and tomorrow view needed by a Frontline Supervisor, turns into the historical trends and future long term forecasts for a Senior Executive. The view of time, and what’s most important, is not the same for everyone.

Visualisation should connect the data with each individual’s reality. All too often KPIs and dash boards are so divorced from reality to render them meaningless leaving people with the so what question.

To fully realise the potential of big data in operations, everyone in the organisation needs practical and actionable insights. This supports better quality operational decisions.

What’s required in hazardous industries is a simpler approach that connects disparate processes and people in a way that allows everyone to visualise and manage risk and operations.

With an integrated platform-approach to digitalisation, hydrocarbon operators can make serious strides towards increasing productivity, reducing risk and cutting costs – and thus practically drive operational excellence as everyday routine.

What do you think? 

For more of my thoughts on this topic, read my paper titled, “Productivity, Risk and Cost – What everyone in the hydrocarbon industry needs to know”.

digital transformation and operational excellence In 1989, PHIL MURRAY recognised the need to provide technology-based solutions to hazardous industries to reduce operational risk, and to help them move beyond compliance to optimise operational performance and drive continuous improvement. Founding Petrotechnics was the result.

Today, Phil is responsible for managing and driving global teams to support our customers in over 22 countries. For over 25 years, Phil has been instrumental in changing the way people work, giving them the tools to manage the relationship between operational performance and risk.

Prior to founding Petrotechnics, Phil spent ten years with BP in a variety of technical, operational and managerial roles. He’s won numerous business awards and has authored a number of articles, including ‘Bringing Frontline Workers into the 21st Century’ (‘Journal of Petroleum Technology’)

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