Aramco, UPDC, and a mastery of data management and science
“Clean and reliable data forms the life blood of a modern, intelligent enterprise. Without its input, none of the real magic of AI or advanced analytics can happen.”
A decade ago, the top 50 global enterprises worldwide by market capitalization featured merely a handful of data-driven companies. Nowadays, data firms predominate: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Meta to name but a few. Moreover, many high-performance businesses, irrespective of sector, have become data companies in their own right.
The oil and gas industry is no exception.
Forward-looking organizations are implementing digital oilfields where surface and sub-surface data is continuously captured, where trends are monitored, and where machine learning is mobilized to supercharge operations and anticipate adverse events even before they arise.
Central to this is “big data,” a term used to describe applying advanced computer analysis, including predictive analytics, to the ever-growing volume of digital information that we can collect and store.
Aramco is an early adopter. In 2020, the Upstream Professional Development Center (UPDC) established a dedicated Data Management (DM) job family to deliver practical training. Through it, a new cadre of data managers are being born.
A two-day outreach campaign event in March saw DM technical advisors, Exploration DM young professionals, and UPDC training delivery teams join forces to raise awareness of the opportunities for data management upskilling. More than 235 visitors benefited from information and shared experiences related to classroom, virtual, and e-learning DM courses, while receiving tasters via live e-learning demos.
We are fast reaching a point where mastery of big data is becoming the critical differentiator of competitive advantage.
— Yousif Al-Tahan, director of the Upstream Business Support Department
“Today’s leading businesses are increasingly facing a choice of either becoming smart — and by that I mean analytics and data-inspired — or frankly obsolete. And for that very reason, it is imperative that Aramco Upstream stays ahead of the game and enthusiastically embraces digital disruption,” Al-Tahan added.
Salam Salamy, manager of the UPDC, explains: “The primary focus of the DM job family has been on how to develop and execute a framework that enhances the value of upstream data, as well as to foster behaviors that increase the level of data hygiene throughout our organization. This is because clean and reliable data forms the life blood of a modern, intelligent enterprise. Without its input, none of the real magic of AI or advanced analytics can happen.”
Under the umbrella of the DM job family, the UPDC has delivered more than 28 courses since the start of the decade, encompassing a broad variety of topics. In excess of 300 attendees from the Upstream Business Line have so far received training.
Different ways to learn
To complement these efforts, a comprehensive UPDC DM e-learning platform has been established for Aramco Upstream containing a customized data management generalist curriculum and learning pathways dedicated to specific DM focus areas and business line needs. This platform can be accessed from the office, at home or on personal devices, unleashing users to learn offline too.
Launched early last year for 100 nominated users, the number of active participants currently exceeds 180 professionals completing a total of over 100 online courses. The top three performing learners in each given month are formally recognized for their achievements.
There are plans to conduct similar campaigns and outreach visits by other UPDC job families before the end of the year. Upstream will look to consolidate its data science upskilling and reskilling capabilities by incorporating industry and professional certification.
“The fact that practically every business is becoming a data business is especially relevant to our industry and even more so to Saudi Aramco with its largest centralized Upstream depositories collecting, validating, and verifying data for close to ninety years. To encounter such a sheer volume of data held in single centralized source is quite unique to our company and it is for us to ensure that we derive maximum value from this richness,” concludes Rail A. Kuliev, Data Management technical adviser at UPDC.