Integrity programs utilize advanced inspection technology that generate gigabytes to terabytes of information for each inspection performed. Discussions of “Big Data” have permeated across all major platforms in the pipeline industry, from academic institutions, industry associations, to even commercial integrity management solution providers.
While the management and governance of data is typically in the domain of Information Technology (IT) services, organizations are facing a data consumption problem: they are not able to fully realize the business value in their data. Data is generated at a far greater pace than most organizations can keep up with. There is a widening gap between the potential value suggested by the data, and the actual value in the outcomes achieved from the data itself.
Bridging the value gap requires an innovative mindset that can conceive new approaches towards the application of data. Innovative solutions to existing problems can help organizations enhance their safety culture and work effectively towards achieving Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. However, cultivating that mindset can be challenging in fast-paced, safety-critical environments where workday hours are filled with multiple priorities and stakeholder requests. Furthermore, the consumption of data is not without its risks. Aside from broader issues such as information security and ethical abuse, the unintentional misinterpretation of data is a concern that directly impacts the ability of operators to manage the safety of their pipeline systems. While technology and software applications can help mitigate risks associated with data misuse, a culture promoting data literacy and experimentation fosters a higher-level of care and ownership towards the responsible use of data.
This paper presents the outcomes from a 2021 pilot program that combines data competency building with the cultivation of an innovative mindset. The program used a team-based “hackathon” like competition to provide a dedicated time and safe space for responsible, lean experimentation of digital problems. In this environment, teams explored innovative solutions to their day-to-day integrity challenges. The program develops technical competencies in data literacy, digital applications, scripting, and analytics; and soft skills including unstructured teamwork, communication, leadership, and a growth mindset. Projects leveraged solutions in areas of data visualization, analytics, automation, and machine learning to drive improvements in effective and efficient integrity management.
Along with describing the framework of the program, the paper will also cover learnings from the experience, which highlight the importance of long-term investment in building digital competencies and effective, collaborative problem-solving skills. By empowering talent within an organization to drive their own innovative solutions, organizations can improve employee engagement and cultivate a greater sense of data stewardship, all while enhancing their integrity programs.