How AI is helping reshape the world of energy

Franziska Bell, PhD, SVP, Digital Technology, bp

Franziska Bell, PhD, SVP, Digital Technology, bp

Despite huge sums of money being invested in new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), more than 85 percent of data projects fail (Gartner) and 3 out of 4 AI software programs currently being built are destined to fail (NewVantage , 2019). However, energy companies like bp do not have that option if we are to help solve the energy trilemma and deliver safe, affordable and low-carbon energy.

My journey to solving business challenges with push-of-a-button data insights and new technology has spanned from academia at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) to data science and machine-assisted cognition leadership roles at Uber, the Toyota Research Institute, and most recently, bp.

The questions business leaders asked about new technology varied along the way. But the intention is always the same: How can digital technology in practice accelerate the business strategy and deliver value to the business and customers?

In my experience, the best way companies can (and must, in the case of those in the energy industry) buck the trend and succeed in using AI to solve challenges is for their digital experts to work closely with the rest of the business.

Partnership means that companies – rather than hiring data scientists and software engineers who are only interested in pursuing new technology for its own sake – need digital experts who align with other colleagues and focus on customer needs and the wider business. At bp, digital experts are involved in developing strategy with the business from the very beginning – not just in the execution phase – meaning that ideas and staff are embedded end-to-end.

“Ensuring alignment between the business and the technologies we pursue means that digital technology bridges the gap between data science and the real needs of our business and increases the number of value-adding digital products.”

From our common starting point, we can build trust between teams and between humans and machines. Effective communication, human-centred design and change management and commitment are therefore essential.

My bp colleagues and I use a partnership approach to digital strategy to deliver real impact. For example, bp is using Ai to improve the safety of aircraft refueling through a partnership between teams from data science, human-centered design, change management and colleagues on the ground.

In hazardous environments, surrounded by flammable liquids, aircraft refueling requires the correct fuel to be transferred to high-powered aircraft – often at speed and under stressful conditions, where rain, wind and ground crew pressure increase the risk to colleagues and property. . bps digital-business partnership assessed the challenge and delivered an effective digital solution.

Ensuring alignment between the business and the technologies we pursue means that digital technology bridges the gap between data science and the real needs of our business and increases the number of value-adding digital products.

We’re still building relationships across the business, but success stories like the one above continue to help digitally develop trusted partnerships, and thus real innovation, every day. Our network of partnerships also enables data experts to be inspired, launch products, collect feedback and iterate quickly, with a flexible approach to reusable solutions and without the constraints of silos or specific technologies.

Silicon Valley start-ups may have a reputation for placing big bets on new technology, but they are not the only ones who realize the importance of digital technology. I strongly encourage anyone interested in solving business problems at scale and at a faster pace to embrace opportunities to collaborate with your digital experts.

William

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