Why Energy Companies Are Embracing New Technology and Big Data

Mar 25, 2015 3:39:37 PM

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Many executives sit around tables in corporate boardrooms and talk about technology as some kind of “pie in the sky” concept. However, the most successful organizations go beyond high-level discussions, creating competitive advantages by applying technology to real-world situations. Pivot Technology Solutions, through its portfolio companies, has extensive field experience in a number of sectors that are finding new ways to use technology to overcome challenges, improve customer service, meet compliance requirements and boost bottom lines.

The energy sector offers a prime example of how technology can dramatically change how organizations operate and communicate. In the oil and gas industry, we’ve witnessed the rise of the high-tech oilfield in which equipment is Internet-connected and constantly sharing mission-critical data in real time. IT can centrally manage and track equipment and analyze data in order to optimize production, productivity and efficiency. Technology has reinvented processes for locating, estimating and producing oil and gas, making it possible for energy companies to increase reserves and ramp up exploration.

Effective communications has become a critical component of operations in the energy sector, which is under increasing pressure to meet global energy demands and operate in a way that is environmentally responsible. With more people and more equipment in remote locations, organizations need to monitor assets, control network access and minimize the threat of cyber-attacks that can compromise worker safety and data security.

Predictive analytics and real-time system health monitoring can improve resource allocation and prevent equipment failure in order to minimize operational disruptions, reduce safety risks and maximize returns. Mobile and wireless technology must be able to withstand harsh environments and support machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the administration of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems in rural and remote areas. All communications technology must be interoperable to support communication between equipment from multiple vendors.

Most of the operational challenges and technological needs in the energy sector speak to the importance of big data. Newer applications such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), smart grid technology and remote asset monitoring tools are producing massive volumes of structured and unstructured data. Using advanced analytics, this data can be leveraged in a number of ways, from measuring energy consumption to preventing outages to reducing consumer energy costs. Although the energy industry has been slow to embrace new technology and big data, the pressure to reduce costs and increase production is making these tools and insights too valuable to ignore. In fact, ABI Research estimates spending on big data and analytics in the energy industry to surpass $21 billion by 2019, tripling the 2014 forecast of $7 billion.

These technologies are paying off here in Texas, where they’re enabling methods that make it possible to drill in deeper shale. Texas’ energy sector has been revitalized, coming out of a long slide that began in the 1970s. Experts say that Texas now produces more oil than every OPEC country except Saudi Arabia, and ranks as the world’s sixth-largest oil producer.

The energy sector isn’t the only industry facing unique challenges that require comprehensive, sophisticated technological solutions. In future posts, I’ll discuss how the financial, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and education sectors can use technology to solve industry-specific issues and optimize operations.


By John Flores
Vice President, Marketing

Topics: Blog

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