David Harmon is the Director of Business Services & Data Analytics at Oil States International, Inc., with 15 years’ experience in Manufacturing Operations focused on value creation through technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Houston, an M.B.A. from Rice University, and is transitioning to the role of Chief Information Officer at the Oil States in 2020.
With his longstanding experience and expertise, he sheds light on having a strategic plan for driving business excellence.
The case for data governance and formal data strategy is stronger than ever. Yet all organizations, especially global organizations, are extremely complex, which has previously made this case very difficult to define and ultimately sell. In addition, the underlying technology we use to define and manage our organizations is equally vast, requiring orchestration of highly specialized skillsets. Of course, the natural tendency of any major endeavor is to formulate a strategic plan to “divide and conquer” based on functional skillset—The unfortunate side effect to this approach is you may just be constructing your own functional silos, isolating personnel, business processes, and information in the long-term, creating further challenges to organizational change.
"Build a single digital view that you can easily switch between perspectives, and your case for data governance starts to become extremely clear to technical and nontechnical audiences alike, thereby greatly enhancing your ability to recruit from the ultimate data stewards within the business"
Now enter the digital era, where technology leaders like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix are thriving from their ability to leverage data in close coordination of the service they provide in its entirety. In Oil & Gas, a similar digital “twin” of your entire operations is likely to be much less mature or may not exist. This leads to the question, is there value in moving up the maturity curve in the digital representation of business? And how do we navigate our #1 obstacle, culture, and resistance to change?
Technologists know the value of data. It is the vehicle of information flow to understand your operations past, present, and future—in order to execute activities to serve your market best and make better management decisions. If you spend a few years building a digital representation of your operations, you start to realize that most functional groups are after extremely similar data sets, only joined and pivoted to support their own unique perspectives and responsibilities. Let’s take a universal example, by first picking any asset within your organization (a nonliving, human, or intangible asset) and reviewing a few perspectives:
• Finance & Accounting – how much did this asset cost, and will it cost me in the future?
• Operations – is this asset utilized and used efficiently?
• Health, Safety, and environmental – is this asset to code, up to date on the inspection, or if human, properly trained?
• Legal – what is the risk and type of failure of this asset as a liability?
• Supply Chain – what is required to maintain this asset or keep it utilized?
• Information Technology – what technology, applications, and data sets are required to collect and report information on this asset?
• Data Science – what models are required to predict, prescribe, or describe this asset to optimize its effectiveness?
• Human Resources – are we supporting a qualified workforce to maintain this asset and providing an environment for it to be successful?
Each of these functional groups has a role in optimizing the effectiveness of your organizations core assets. Study the list, and you will start to see just how much overlap there is between the information at hand. Build a single digital view that you can easily switch between perspectives, and your case for data governance starts to become extremely clear to technical and non-technical audiences alike, thereby greatly enhancing your ability to recruit from the ultimate data stewards within the business.
Recommendation for CIOs:
Take a few small steps towards a “Digital Twin” of your organization to uncover a wealth of strategic, collaborative, and value-generating opportunities:
1. Start simple to generate quick wins, build a framework, and gain momentum.
2. Leverage a single view of the organization to make your case for data and analytics, as well as understanding and uniting the various perspectives of your business.
3. Improve communication and operational performance by integrating a Business Intelligence performance feedback loop in day to day functions.
4. Above all, lead your organization by building an environment for employees to be successful, greatly enhanced by technology