Technology is moving fast, driven by innovation and accelerated by consumer experience and demand. The energy sector is no exception. The industry faces an additional challenge: meeting the world’s energy needs while reducing CO2 emissions. But how? An answer is through digital transformation.
Driven by the need to change, many energy companies have publicly committed to reinvention, using technology to support their net zero ambitions. It is therefore imperative that digital solutions are always effectively integrated into the change. How energy companies can attract digital talent and put digital at the center of their business model is critical to making this reinvention a success. Digital capacity is an essential ingredient to achieve a net carbon-free future.
Opportunities for digital talent?
Digital roles were once seen as a support function that made “real” work possible, but they are now central to the success of an energy company. Digital talent is now key to delivering the innovation needed to achieve both financial and environmental goals.
Digital specialists have the opportunity to join energy companies, with endless opportunities to build their expertise and contribute to a wider cause. Data scientists can use analytics to assess the performance of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. Robotics specialists use virtual reality to improve the safety and quality of the inspection program under the sea. And experts in artificial intelligence (AI) are experimenting with machine learning to identify and unlock new ways to model power generation.
Digital has a direct influence on the way in which energy is created by new technology and experiments. In the wind power room, they run AI algorithms on edge processors in real time to perform drone-based blade inspections. Previous work required cloud computing resources to process data and now runs on significantly smaller edge computing resources. The goal is to gain actionable insights during data acquisition – ultimately enabling real-time autonomous decisions, and developing a drone controller capable of unattended learning and adapting to real-time environmental changes, using neuromorphic hardware.
This is the crux of digital transformation: bringing these skills and new technologies into a business to enable transition. Through the combination of internal robust technical knowledge, software development and data engineering in an agile way, energy companies enable digital specialists to innovate and find new solutions that deliver a low-carbon future.
Data, the future of energy?
Data is at the heart of digital transformation. This is at the heart of a digital strategy, and how data is collected, stored and used has a direct impact on decision making. An energy company that continuously expands the ability to combine data from across the business and through analytical integration can modernize business workflows through automation and AI, radically improving productivity and business outcomes by providing end-to-end insights.
Data is used in many dynamic ways to improve work processes. Digital specialists build predictive analytics applications by applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to production surveillance to avoid interrupting planned operations, automatically reducing end-user effort and reducing maintenance costs.
Another example of using data is creating digital duplicate applications. A digital twin is a dynamic software model of a physical asset that relies on data to understand its status, respond to changes, improve business operations and add value. Through the use of intellectual assets, we systematically codify our know-how and enable the energy sector to make increasingly important operational decisions. A digital twin application is used to visualize how an asset, such as a wind farm, works. The results of this modeling are then applied to ensure that everything runs as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
Third, there is the smart use of Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver new business value by leveraging established IoT and edge analytics capabilities. This includes the ability to deploy sensors where additional data is required, along with powerful data analysis platforms. Data plays a major role in improving the way we produce the energy the world needs in a sustainable way. The way data is collected, managed and used to make business decisions will be the key differentiator in promoting the energy transition – few industries offer this opportunity for impact.
What does this mean for digital talent?
To bridge the gap between digital talents, energy companies are re-training their staff by teaching software engineering languages and other digital skills necessary for this industry evolution, but this is not enough. There is an increasing need to hire the best digital talent on the market to enable the transformation speed needed to meet the world’s demands while shifting to more sustainable needs.
For digital specialists, the chance of innovation and discovery at an energy company is enormous. The sector is evolving and digital talent is key to achieving a low-carbon future.
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