North Sea operators need to embrace 'dirty data' to improve, IBM chief warns

A partner at a giant tech firm has warned North Sea operators not to sweep their dirty data under the rug if they want to improve their business.

Janet White, executive partner at IBM, claimed oil and gas operators risk missing out on crucial “insights” if they don’t embrace all the data available from their assets, including the “dirty data”.

Ms White was speaking during the Future Oil and Gas conference held at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.

She said: “Let’s take more advantage of the data that you own already and that exists out there and is available without licence.

“Explore the data that could be available to you through a licence, but be conscious of curating the right amount of data because there’s so much of it you can spend a lot of energy and effort in storing it and sifting through it to find the right insight.

“Don’t be afraid to use this data.

“One of the key reasons for not progressing is the fear of data being dirty, but actually there is a benefit in actually starting to use that data because of the way that we work today, agile and fast, we can actually pinpoint where improvements need to be made very quickly.”

Ms White also warned operators that they risk being left behind in the offshore digital revolution if they choose to ignore asset data.

She told firms that they should not use data they don’t like or agree with as “an excuse” not to innovate.

Ms White added: “There is a fundamental fear but actually a lot of the time organisations are not willing to go beyond the understanding that they do have dirty data.

“Sometimes when they analyse the data, organisations will see that there is a possibility of using the dirty data to get benefit and they stop.

“I think that often the dirty data is used as an excuse to not move into the next step, which is proper business transformation.

“Dirty data, when it’s analysed and cleaned, will actually give you insights that could mean you have the potential to fundamentally change your organisation.”

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