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The challenges of transforming the business with big data

Clare Simmons — April 2015
Sonja Chirico Indrebø, SVP and CIO of Statoil, on harnessing the power of big data to drive business transformation.

Efficiency in the oil and gas industry has always been driven by data — from seismic data used in discovery and exploration to supply chain data for streamlining the flow of raw fuel from the wellhead to the customer. But the arrival of big data capabilities that can process and make sense of vast amounts of data has the potential to impact every part of the organization, says CIO of Statoil Sonja Chirico Indrebø in our exclusive Big Thinker video.

“Big data is transforming our industry and transforming Statoil. With the access we have today to so much data, we’re seeing big benefits. It’s changing the way we work,” she says.

In the past, data analytics on a massive scale was limited to the geologist environment at Statoil. But now there are enormous quantities of data flowing into every part of the company — from the company’s drill bits to its information security log — all of which can be analyzed and the results applied in new ways.
Breaking down data silos

While every line of business has its own value for such data, she believes the real business benefits of big data come from the way in which it can be shared across the organization. “Instead of just having data in one silo, we’re now able to share data across disciplines. And that cross-connection brings new benefits,” she outlines.

So data that was previously used solely by drilling engineers is now also applied to exploration and petroleum technology for reservoir interpretation, she explains. Likewise in the office environment — there are significant benefits to be had when data is shared across teams in areas such as finance and control.

For all the advantages big data offers, the challenges it presents are “huge, and they’re not getting any smaller,” says Indrebø. To avoid the prospect of its users “drowning in data,” the IT team at Statoil has created a data architecture that orchestrates the access and flow of information.
Empowering business users

More data means more vigilance, too. And for Indrebø information security has become much more critical in the age of big data. The company’s chief information security officer is tasked with ensuring that all three aspects of security — governance, technology and awareness — are addressed. Given that, the security chief reports both to Indrebø and the wider security function that spans physical and people security.

Data security also raises questions about the ownership of data. If data is made available and sharable across the company, where does responsibility for data lie? For Indrebø the days of IT owning the data are long gone. “At Statoil the data owner is the asset owner – the data is the business’s.”

The IT team is therefore focused on orchestration, ensuring the data is accessible, reliable and can be utilized in valuable ways. And that means understanding the data needs of business users and empowering them to ‘pull’ data themselves, as well as having reports and other data pushed to them by IT.

IT must play a key role in developing an understanding of the potential of big data and new analytics techniques among business users, according to Indrebø. “The only way we can make things change is if there is a curiosity around doing things differently,” she says.
First published
May 2015
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About: Sonja Chirico Indrebø
CIO and SVP of Norway’s Statoil since 2011, Sonja Chirico Indrebø draws on deep domain expertise built over more than two decades in oil and gas IT. She joined the $81bn company as a senior offshore telecoms engineer in 1998, having begun her career at Aker Solutions.

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