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Building Your Own Digital Twin

We all fancy ourselves quite capable. Our industry is comprised of clever, hardworking individuals who have earned a living from figuring out ways to get things done. And, in general, how to accomplish “more with less” as we have had to address numerous ups and downs.

So, it’s no real surprise that when something new comes along that appears to be capable to make real, impactful change to our organization, we begin to think of ways in which we can capitalize on it in the most effective way. And given our background and experience, this often embodies a certain level of “in-house” or “DIY” approach. But how deep should you go with this approach? How much autonomy is good versus how much can it be a risk or contribute to “non-value add” costs to your organization?

The relationship between these elements is sometimes very firm, but more often than not, difficult to quantify. What is the cost of poor quality? How much time can you spend before you encounter diminishing returns? Meanwhile, our objectives sit balanced precariously upon the seat created by our decisions. Commit everything to a rapid deployment project for example and watch everything tip in that direction, likely with the expected impacts.

Over the past several years, I’ve been watching this space and reflecting that there are more than just project outcomes at stake. Several organizations are taking a hard look at the intricacies involved and realizing that there are many strategic components as well.

What competencies should we, as an organization, retain? These we invest in. What is not going to enable our vision or support our core? Those we outsource.’

Way back in the day, a similar dialogue took place around the value of Petrophysicists. Reservoir models were moving from paper and spreadsheets into mainframes and visualization models. Those experienced petrophysicists who could make the jump into this brave, new world became a bit of a hot commodity and most integrated O&G operators felt that having them on staff to work with emerging new job titles such as programmers and data scientists, would enable them to capitalize on these investments, leading to better answers and increased recovery rates and factors. Huge models were built up in-house in some places while in parallel, oilfield service providers also invested heavily and soon brought to market their own software.

Which was better? Then, like today, it was based upon the objectives, both short and long term. In many cases, it is likely that digital projects can be accomplished in-house. But perhaps, based upon the overall scale and scope of an organization’s ambitions, their ability to handle management of change and their level of digital sophistication, I would suggest considering a balanced approach. One empowers the existing departments within the organization by enabling them to create and build the architecture which meets those ambitions, working in partnership with skilled providers, and balancing the time, cost and quality in line with the objectives.

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