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Avoiding technology for the sake of technology – understanding the asset, extracting data and changing your workforce
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Digital & Technology
Prabu Parthasarathy
Vice President of Applied Intelligence

Prabu Parthasarathy, Wood’s vice president of intelligent operations, is joining a panel of the world’s leading industrial experts at Cognite’s Ignite Talks this week, to discuss how 2020 has forced industrial companies to rethink how they harness technology to innovate.

Prabu shares why domain knowledge is critical for companies to unlock the value of technology with full stack solutions.

While flashy autonomous operations have gained mainstream attention in heavy industries like manufacturing, mining and oil and gas, the focus from companies is rightly on creating value by digitally connecting portfolios of assets – operations can also integrate the development of those assets across design, build and operation through continuously harnessed data.

This is leading to surging demand for innovative software to proactively build a more optimised operation, causing the market to be flooded with tech companies offering diverse digital technologies.

However, despite the oversaturation in the market, developing the right technology is not the only key to unlocking the value of more responsive, productive and sustainable operations that digital transformation promises.

The pitfalls of integrating technology without rich domain knowledge

A recent report from the World Economic Forum shows more than 70% of industrial companies are stuck at the pilot stage. Lack of standardised methods in solution providers, too many solutions, new tech entrants, and myriad of niche solution providers are some of the reasons that inhibit the comprehension and scaling of digital solutions within many client organisations. Still, the primary reason for transformations to be stuck at the pilot stage is the dearth of knowledge and resources to scale. Pilots, by their nature, tend to focus on a single domain area with data access limited to a few systems. However, when it comes a large roll-out of solutions, domain knowledge in multiple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, various historians, controls system and other data sources will be required.

In addition, digital transformation projects touch several disciplines and use cases, from production optimisation to smart maintenance to connected worker to sustainability. Technology focused companies typically do not have the knowledge to span multiple systems during implementation nor have the deep domain knowledge in the various use cases. Additionally, the duty of the technology implementer does not stop at the implementation stage. Effective use of the technology by client personnel requires proper change management procedures and only when this step is taken care will an organisation realise the value of the investment made.

That is why independent digital integrators like Wood, who have a deep domain knowledge, understanding of the assets, the processes and the operators themselves, the client challenges and ultimate objectives, as well as an agnostic approach tech landscape - play a key role in technology adoption and building the right solution that delivers.

The power of partnership

This lack of comprehensive know how and pilot purgatory for large-scale digital integration leads to a high rate of failure for all players in today’s ever-evolving landscape – operators, owners, technology, and service providers. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted a few years ago that over two-thirds of siloed digital transformation initiatives will ultimately fail due to insufficient collaboration, integration, sourcing, or project management. So strategic partnerships and collaborations are critical.

Heavy-asset and industrial clients need partners who can deliver full digital stack solutions to drive more connected, profitable, and sustainable industrial operations and generate a stronger ROI on their digital investments. Full stack solutions combine the software and data science services, with domain knowledge and how to identify and extract vast amounts of data trapped in fragmented and bespoke systems.

This is why Wood is developing full stack integration solutions with an ecosystem of diverse strategic partners like Microsoft, AspenTech, Cognite and AVEVA that deliver better connected design, build and operations.

Our long history of heavy industrial engineering and operations compliments this diverse partnership ecosystem to allow us to connect our client’s biggest challenges with the right enabling partner technologies. Our shared clients can then leverage those bespoke, packaged and scalable solutions to manage and design assets more efficiently, increase output, reduce maintenance costs, increase safety, and achieve sustainability goals – technology that delivers value, not technology for technology's sake.

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