11th September 2018
Data Management: Past, Present and Future
By Dr Paul Duller
Chair of the Geoscience Information Group of the Geological Society and the PESGB Data Management Special Interest Group
The management of geological information has undergone a revolution over the last 50 years. The tools and techniques used over this time have changed out of all recognition, supported at least in part by a myriad of technological advances in almost every aspect of our day-to-day activities.
For 50 years now, we have been doing the best we can with the information we have. The tools, technology and processes have changed, however the one thing that has not is the data itself. While we now have the ability to do things mathematically before we do them in reality, such tools may not help if we do not trust the data we have. Data quality is still a critical element in the success of our activities. Despite the fact that much of our data comes from sources that we don’t control or cannot identify the provenance of, data quality is often overlooked.
Competency barriers are starting to be addressed by the introduction of certified professional data stewards and a raft of new profession qualifications in Data Management, however, many companies still fail to recognise that data is a strategic asset that belongs to the company and treat it as a tactical (disposable) resource, with all the resulting problems that this brings.
Of course, some things are slower to change than others. Sematic confusion still exists, and standardisation has been slow to take root despite the efforts of organisations such as POSC and PPDM. Every successful global industry is built on standards, yet the oil industry still thinks its exempt. Whilst inefficient, doing the job differently has historically led to perceived ‘job security’ in a relatively unstable market place, despite the knowledge that organic data management does not work. We need to stop sacrificing efficiency for individuality and recognise that the innovation that is possible when we combine efficient baseline data management with trusted data and skilled data scientist.
Digital transformation has the potential to be a game changer, but only if it generates more oil for less dollars, faster, with less risk. New approaches such as digitalisation (the strategic transformation of digital models and activities through digital technologies and integrated data flows) allow us to move beyond data to actional Insights.
Innovative approaches, such as that adopted by FOROIL with its Digital Oil RecoveryTM tools offer a glimpse of what the future might bring and the reduced timescales involved. Ultimately, companies that adopt these new digital technologies quickly and at scale will be best positioned to be successful, and they need to recruit the smartest and most competent data managers now to drive it forward.
This paper reflects on these changes from a geologist’ point of view. It considers the rewards and benefits that these changes have delivered to date, the problems they created and how they were overcome, and the pitfalls that still exist for the unwary user.
Should Young professionals be considering a career data management? Is “Fairy Dust” really the dried-up sweat and tears of previous data managers? Come along to this presentation in September and find out for yourself….
Dr Paul Duller
The Geological Society of London
+44 (0)20 7434 9944