The Digital Vision

The Digital Vision

Cynthia Johnson, CIO, California Resources Corporation

Cynthia Johnson, CIO, California Resources Corporation

The digital oilfield vision includes many use cases of technology. Advancements for the oilfield are keeping up and maybe outpacing Moore’s Law which suggests technology capability doubles every two years. However, the application of technology to a use case is not enough. ‘Working digital’—a new normal must be our aspiration.

My vision for California Resources Corporation (CRC), as CIO, is ‘A Digital CRC’. Advancing toward our goals of safe and efficient operations, the nuances of working digital, whether in the oilfield or in the office, begin with our reliance on data and information. Each employee’s contribution will be elevated when they are empowered with a universal source of truth providing real-time data, correlated across disciplines. A robust network architecture extending to our remote facilities allowing for seamless transfers between mobile devices and desktop computers will unleash the power of productivity throughout the company.

"Our goal is that decision-quality information is readily available to those that need it"

The digital CRC roadmap includes well site data correlated to historical and facility information, ready for a decision on course of action. It includes field personnel collaborating real-time with the office. The software will further enhance safety and reliability as well as minimize downtime by predicting mechanical issues allowing for proactive maintenance. Algorithms will predict project success and recommend priorities, maximizing the results of operations and development teams. Data visualization systems will pull together relevant data and offer an easy to use display that allows analysis with a micro view and a macro view with searchable electronic documents.

Our Challenges

Accenture reports in their “Digital Oilfield Outlook Report” published in Oct 2015 that the CIOs surveyed identified the top 3 barriers to adoption of the Digital Oilfield to be budget constraints, the existence of organizational barriers, and cyber security concerns. Realistically, CIOs face these barriers in all our technology initiatives. In fact, the CIO’s job description could be simply put as (1) sell the IT vision to the company leadership, (2) secure funding for IT appropriate to the business climate, (3) foster and influence organizational change toward the vision, and (4) protect the digital assets of the company.

CRC is a forward-leaning organization motivated to tackle the digital challenge. We are breaking down silos so that the internal efficiency of each department is optimized for information flow to and from other functions throughout the company. A key component of the Digital CRC vision is that one team’s data is another team’s information. Our goal is that decision-quality information is readily available to those that need it.

The challenge of systems with varying attributes and formats will be overcome as we enhance our technical skill sets with a core competency of data architecture and data transformation. Our data architecture will be an umbrella over the entire company to ensure integrity of data from the well head to the executive office. Our goal is that resources are spending at least 80% of their time on analysis and no more than 20 percent of their time gathering data. We are working to ensure that non-system data—paper documents, diagrams, or deliverables from service vendors—is electronic, cataloged, searchable, and easily accessible.

Our Path Forward

Although our budgets have been razor-thin these last years, I’ve been meeting with operations and development leaders across the company to discuss the evolution of our digital journey. These conversations have been invaluable to achieve alignment and a shared vision. The course of action we’re recommending is positioned for adoption and will deliver immediate value with each step.

Internally in IT, we’ve been busy reviewing the technology we already own to identify opportunities. Through upgrades to current releases and improvements to workflows, we’ve already increased the value to end users and opened pathways toward working digital. For example, as I gathered repeated interest in displaying our data on a map, we looked again at our GIS infrastructure. Technology upgrade and workflow refinement opportunities surfaced which we handled with internal resources. GIS views enhance the digital impact to employees and will be a foundational requirement of how data is made available. The shared vision for a digital company fosters collaborative problem solving to improve data quality.

A company-wide data architecture with governance through data stewards and readily available data glossaries are essential as a foundation to the vision of trusted, reliable data. We’ve established a Data Solutions Board comprised of business and IT experts who will meet regularly to discuss our company-wide data architecture and will be a resource to teams using the data. We’ve identified the ground truth for key data elements and developed integration tools to meet our goal of easily accessible integrated data.

On the technology infrastructure side, we’re investing in extending our network and increasing performance to remote sites. We are also investing in portable network equipment to keep drilling rig teams connected to the organization. Real time data entry and validation will yield future value in trusted, reliable data.

CRC’s ability to meld technology advancement into our work processes will increase our company performance exponentially. My role as CIO is to participate in leading the company, establishing fundamental capabilities so we can face the barriers head on. As CIO I stand on the digital frontier pointing the way to the new normal, a Digital CRC. 

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