Is Data the new Oil?

Is Data the new Oil?

May 14, 2019

Traditionally, oil has been considered one of the most valuable physical assets, but is this important commodity being replaced by data?


In the early twentieth century, oil transformed the world, driving cars, powering the whole chemical industry and fuelling widespread economic growth. Perhaps more intriguing is that many everyday products use petroleum as their main ingredient, including plastics, lubricants, rubber, and many household items from ballpoint pens to shampoo!

Just like oil, data is changing most industries globally, having the same effect in propelling everything in today’s digital world, which is seemingly reliant on data and information. Although this analogy fits, there are subtle differences: oil is a finite resource, whereas data is constantly being created, growing at a significant rate, with the capability to be used again and again.

Today, data is considered to be a highly valuable asset, and just like oil, data only becomes useful when it has been extracted, refined and made available to where it is required.  

The Value of Data

The value of oil can only be yielded once it has been physically removed from its underground reservoir and processed accordingly. In a similar way to oil, data also requires a means to monetize and extract the value from data, to fully realise its financial worth as a commodity.

To achieve this, data needs to be transformed from its raw state through a refinement process, converting it into meaningful and relevant information that can be used across multiple facets of the business. The value of data can be fully realized by turning data into information, to knowledge, to insight, to decisions and finally to results.

With the rapid growth in the availability of raw data, businesses are obliged to focus their attention on the accuracy and consistency of data over its entire life-cycle. This is critical to systems that store, process or retrieve data, such as those in the oil and gas sector. Therefore, it’s important to ensure data is fully protected and readily available no matter when and where it’s required.

Data and Digital Transformation

Process industries are already investing in ways to unlock the potential of data, as increasing amounts of information from sensors and smart devices reinforce the need to utilize this information to its full capacity. This has triggered new ideas and concepts that utilize analytics and data management techniques to gain valuable insights into the vast amounts of data that are available. With improved foresight, it can secure a competitive advantage for businesses to support their digital transformation strategy.

Arguably, this is beginning to fuel business, similar to how oil fuels machines, but the potential of data has greater variety and opportunity for a better understanding at the corporate level. Therefore, software applications like data historian that have the capability to cut through the noise of big data are desirable, opening the door to specific knowledge and actionable information that form the basis of key business decisions.

Realization of Data Value

In order to create smarter, more efficient plants and supply chains, organizations across the process industry are embracing the industrial internet of things (IIoT). Interconnecting sensors, instruments, and other devices that are networked together allows data to be exchanged autonomously. IIoT is the convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) which combines manufacturing operations and control systems with business planning and logistics.

The merger of IT and OT opens up a realm of possibilities as connected devices gather, receive and send information. Most of these devices will be industrial machinery – from production line equipment to pipeline pumps and monitors – all of which allow us to monitor events and processes in order to transform manufacturing and process automation.

Connected devices supply a constant stream of data, bringing together process information from single and multiple sites. This has led to applications being developed for data analysis so insights and key KPIs can be established, allowing organizations the ability to recognise inefficiencies and problems sooner. As a result, adjustments can be implemented at the enterprise and operational level to deliver improved process and response time to maximise potential revenue.

Against the backdrop of rapidly shifting market conditions, increased competitiveness, new digital technologies, and emerging data trends, the demand for cloud-based applications is flourishing, enabling organizations to take advantage of the benefits of moving operational and process data into the cloud.

Cloud-based data historians make information easily accessible and are capable of gathering process data from multiple sites to deliver actionable information for deeper analysis and to become more knowledgeable. In most industries, existing competitors and new entrants alike are utilizing these data analysis strategies to compete, innovate and capture value from their data.

Yokogawa’s data historian provides an application framework for collaboration to improve business agility, capitalize on increased amounts of data, reduce upfront costs and drive down the total cost of ownership. Cutting through big data gives customers performance insight through organized and well-structured data, improving the visibility of important and valuable plant information.

Key stakeholders can remain fully aware, well informed and ready to face the next challenge, enabling decision makers to make cost-effective actions for optimum business operation. Yokogawa offers a comprehensive suite of powerful tools to provide insight into multiple facets of operational plants to maximise the value of data – the right tools to empower your business transformation.

Data – A Game Changer for Process Industries

We posed the question at the start, ‘Is data the new oil?’ The answer will depend on your viewpoint, but we can agree that data is an important part of any business strategy. Its value will be derived from a business’s capacity to extract purposeful information, knowledge, and insight that is aligned to the needs of the business to unlock its full potential.

Data has the potential to change the game and is essential for process and operational monitoring. As data becomes more readily available, organizations can process raw data into meaningful information. Oil and gas giants are already recognising the value of this information, investing in ways to do more with their data in order to solve business problems in a rapidly changing and competitive industry.

Recent advances in technology like data historians allow applications to leverage the value of data and transform it into decisions that are driven by data, to improve performance and deliver tangible business benefits for the process industries.

To stay ahead of the curve and embrace data for operational gain, Yokogawa’s Exaquantum is a comprehensive solution to provide organizations with insight and important plant information. With Yokogawa, businesses are able to re-take control of their data, make smarter decisions and increase overall plant performance and improve efficiencies.





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  1. Muhammad Soliman
    #1 Muhammad Soliman 4 September, 2019, 15:54

    I like it but you have to give me a reason about the difference between Big Data and Historian Servers

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