​The transformative powers of cognitive computing

Turning data into insights that increase revenue and cut costs for the oil and gas industry

Cognitive computing is defined as a new paradigm that allows for: learning and building knowledge from various structured and unstructured sources of information; understanding natural language and interacting more naturally with humans; capturing the expertise of top performers and accelerating the development of expertise in others; enhancing the cognitive processes of professionals to help improve decision-making; and elevating the quality and consistency of decision-making across an organization.

Today’s oil and gas companies are turning to cognitive technology to help them succeed in an industry plagued by constant disruption. Volatile energy prices, reserve replenishment and exploration issues, rising R&D costs, reduced production reliability, manufacturing inefficiency and safety and compliance concerns are just some of the challenges putting immense pressure on C&P organizations’ ability to succeed. What’s more, a report released in 2016 by Houston-based Graves & Co. says that over 350,000 jobs have been slashed by oil and gas production companies worldwide, thanks to a downward slide in crude oil prices that began in 2014.

Enter cognitive technology and its ability to help companies survive and thrive among the turmoil. But how?

Essentially, oil and gas organizations are embracing cognitive computing to interpret the staggering amount of industry data that contains the change-making insights necessary for peak operational performance..

In a new IBM Institute for Business Value white paper entitled “Turning data into chemicals and petroleum insights”, research indicates that industry leaders are poised to embrace this new technology and invest in cognitive capabilities to spark their digital future. They see it as an opportunity to radically change the industry as they use it as a tool to identify new avenues for growth, navigate complexity and implement new ideas at higher velocity with quantitative risk levels.

More specifically, downstream production planning, trading and risk management; bulk distribution and retail and environment, health and safety are the key areas where C&P organizations are seeing opportunities for cognitive computing.

But can true advances in revenue, efficiency and profitability be attained with cognitive computing? According to a group of chemicals and petroleum outperformers who were surveyed, the rest of the industry needs to concentrate on three areas for success, beginning with creating a culture for cognitive.

Creating a culture for cognitive begins by adopting a mindset that embraces the science of cognitive computing. Pinpointing a small number of high-value functions where cognitive technologies can play a role is the second step. Finally, invest only after identifying the differential value cognitive computing provides.

The next step in cultivating cognitive success is building a cognitive data foundation which essentially means establishing the data infrastructure needed to support cognitive systems. Then business-driven governance is required for data commonalty, lineage and transparency. Lastly, new sources of unstructured data or information can augment structured data.

The final step in taking full advantage of cognitive computing is focusing on new skills.

Adapting roles and processes to facilitate new ways of working sets the foundation. Hiring new talent with the specialized skills necessary to move forward is often the final piece in the puzzle.

When considering the merits of cognitive technologies for any organization it’s vital to consider several key factors: which areas of the company would benefit and what will generate a rapid return on investment; how will you encourage revenue growth; can your group consolidate data from a wide range of sources in aid of important business problems; is your company ready to collaborate to implement this new technology; and does your company need new people and resources to take full advantage of cognitive computing.

Whether you’re embarking on a new journey or are already in the world of cognitive computing click here to download the complete IBM Institute for Business Value white paper “Turning data into chemical and petroleum insights” or click here to learn more about IBM Watson in natural resources.

IBM Canada is headquartered in Markham, Ontario and is one of Canada's top 10 private R&D; investors. IBM has a unique approach to collaboration that provides academic researchers, small and large business, start-ups and developers with business strategies and computing tools they need to innovate. For more information, please visit www.ibm.com/ca.

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