Guest post from LiveWorx Sponsor SparkCognition

Though artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for decades, it has never quite displayed powerful enough results to be incorporated into mainstream business. However, recent developments in technology have given AI new strength, and it has started delivering tangible outcomes to a variety of industries. McKinsey & Co. estimated $50B in savings and increased profits in the O&G supply chain from improved use of data, and major companies like BP and Dover are investing in AI. So, what’s different now, and why should O&G take notice of what AI claims to offer?

1. Large quantities of data

As endpoints and sensors dropped in price, they became prolific on equipment throughout the oil field. The information flowing in from thousands of parts of the oil pipeline can provide tremendous insight—if you can make sense of it. Another development affecting the data flow is affordable, high-speed connectivity to remote locations where drilling activities typically take place. As connectivity is becoming more commonplace, this data can also be pooled to get a more holistic picture of operations.

2. Hardware that can handle the data lake

The sea of data has grown beyond human capabilities to process. The calculations made on such a vast span of incoming data require a high level of computing power that wasn’t previously available at a feasible price. Fortunately, this is also an area where cheaper technology has paved the way for AI insights. In addition, GPUs (graphic processing units) are now enabling multiple operations in parallel, which speeds up the Deep Neural Networks necessary for deep learning. When combined with new platforms for handling large amounts of data, the hard requirements to process the data are in place. Speaking of processing the data...

3. Sophisticated algorithms

Improved algorithms are the key to solving real-world problems. Rather than using pre-written rules or physics-based programs to tell the computer what to do, automated model building has become a differentiator in AI ability. This technology allows models to become trained and continually optimize themselves.

4. A new workforce

The younger generation coming into O&G brings a comfortability with data and connected devices, as well as an expectation of their presence. Rather than feeling threatened by a computer or software program which could potentially take their job, they have no qualms working side by side with hardware and software that will help them do their job better, and in fact, bring enthusiasm for what new technology can offer.

These conditions combine to create an ideal environment for AI. As O&G stabilizes from earlier downtowns, it must look towards long-term sustainable growth and the technologies that can enable this. In the next article, we’ll look at the specific impact of implementing artificial intelligence in the oilfield, and the future of doing so.

Brant Swidler is the manager of Customer Success at SparkCognition, an award-winning global leader in cognitive analytics. In this role, he handles project management of SparkCognition’s A.I. products for oil and gas clients, as well as business development and partnerships. To learn more about how your organization can use the power of AI and machine learning to bring cognitive efficiency to your business, please contact us at or