Interview with Kami Keim, Director of Product Development. Her 27+ years of experience within the oil & gas sector includes organizations such as Schlumberger, Equinor and Spinnaker Exploration. She has held leading roles in transforming information management strategies and was the custodian of one of the largest seismic databases in the Gulf of Mexico. Kami’s specialist expertise is in geophysical and geological data management and technology.
Q: Based on what you are hearing from clients, what are the latest challenges and insights surrounding Big Data?
A: Oil companies are entering the next chapter of grappling with Big Data, and striving to take it beyond their previous focus on data management. They are still evolving their approaches to access and security, and have learned a lot in the process. They understand more fully the complexities of finding their data, sharing their data, and addressing the deteriorating condition of their data. Now, innovative teams are looking into not only how to reap greater ROI on their organization’s data, but to establish their Big Data in its rightful place as a profit center and explore ways to actually monetize it. Advances in AI and machine learning are clearly accelerating this evolution.
Q: Are you suggesting that previous challenges have gone away?
A: Not at all. Case in point: Many of our clients still struggle with finding their data and then being able to read it. After all, the Energy industry has just celebrated 100 years of using seismic reflection data in exploration, and that represents a huge amount of information and much of it predates digital data deliveries. It is not just a matter of not being digital. They simply can’t find it, even when it’s online. On top of that, much of that data is contained in old media. Companies simply cannot read it today. It’s in a format they cannot use, so they need help in making the data readable and managing it so they can find data that they did not know they had.
A typical scenario might be when an oil company wants to leverage data that is in an old or proprietary seismic format, and unfortunately cannot migrate data from that format into the latest SEG-Y format for use in today’s software for analysis. Ovation can extract the data from old media, migrate it from outdated formats, and convert it from locked data into a ready-to-run resource. We have subject matter experts working on the data and performing quality control by cleaning out bad shot points. They read wavelets and shot point locations, then create a current Seg-Y file to load into interpretation software where it can be used.
In a more extreme scenario, one of our clients wanted to retrieve valuable data contained in tapes that had been submerged in water for a year following Hurricane Katrina. Ovation tackled the project and was able to recover 100 percent of the data, despite obstacles that the client assumed were insurmountable. Ovation technology is not limited by format. Whether it is analog – on film, paper, microfiche, whatever – or digital we can read it and make it ready to run.
Q: Other companies also offer transcription. What makes Ovation Data unique in this area?
A: First of all, our priority at Ovation is to ensure your data is readily available and in a usable format so there is no need to wait when a data-driven decision must be made in a timely manner. Some data companies prefer to perform only a bit-to-bit copy of your data from old media, and implement quality control and reformatting just at the particular point when the data is needed. This is an inferior manner to the Ovation method because it means that decision makers are left waiting for data to be found and then restructured before it can be used. These providers take an approach of fixing a hole only when a leak arises, rather than ensuring the roof is impenetrable.
In addition, many of these same companies place a proprietary wrapper around the datafiles that a customer cannot penetrate without buying additional services. Ovation has a different approach. We recognize that our customers have already paid for transcription, storage and maintenance. We store their data in the native formats. No wrappers are applied except, of course, if the client requests encryption by choice. When clients want to retrieve their data, we never charge egress fees. Other providers ask for what are considered ransom fees just for a customer to get their own data back in a format they can use. We have even developed methods that break the wrappers applied by other storage vendors, unlocking clients’ data so they are able to use it going forward. We believe strongly in the notion “Your data, managed.”
At Ovation, we offer customized solutions to fit a client’s specific needs, not a “one size fits all” approach. We partner with our customers to design workflows that not only solve our customers’ needs today, but ones that can grow with ever-increasing volumes of data and enable our customers to realize their data management goals.
Q: You mentioned AI and machine learning. Can you tell me more about that?
A: Companies have been grappling with the basics of information management for quite a while, and now they want more than storage and disaster prevention. They want to make data available for today’s new business tools – AI and analytics. Ovation helps make this happen across multiple industries, including Energy, Media & Entertainment and Biomedical. Our broad experience transcends any particular industry segment.
Many of the assets held by Media & Entertainment companies are on old video cassettes that they cannot read and in old file formats. Ovation can migrate the data to the most recent formats. An Ovation project example involved the British Film Institute’s National Archive which holds one of the world’s largest film and television collections, which was in danger of being lost in antiquated media storage technology. The Institute selected Ovation to provide a custom-built solution that moves data seamlessly to disk, tape and cloud storage and that today preserves the UK’s audiovisual heritage in a trusted repository for worldwide audiences to enjoy.
Ovation can also rasterize films, so clients can now re-master their assets with today’s tools. Rasterizing a layer will convert any type of vector layer into pixels. As a vector layer, the image is made up of geometric formulas to create the contents of your image. This is perfect for graphics that need to have clean edges or be scaled up significantly.
In order to take advantage of new technologies introduced in the past several years, companies must begin with digital data in current formats. Only when their data is ready for purpose can they unlock its true value, allowing an AI system to do the heavy lifting of personnel and time intensive operations or by enabling an analytics package to present vast quantities of data in meaningful, automated displays. Traditionally, someone in these industries would have to comb through the data set looking for trends, often introducing human error by misinterpretation or missing key indicators altogether. With AI, systems are trained to search for fundamental indicators and highlight them. This reveals opportunities for companies to use their data and today’s analytics packages that sum up and display large amounts of data in a manner that facilitates timely business decisions. In the Biomedical industry, for example, AI can look for and potentially spot a precursor for a medical condition by learning from an individual’s past scans in which the condition presented. That knowledge can be applied to scans taken today to identify the proclivity of that condition to present in new patients. Technology like this holds great promise in many other areas, not only in seeing more of what is present now but actually serving as a predictor of what may appear later. This is a very exciting time but customers cannot take advantage of innovations, such as these, if their data is not in the proper format and readily accessible.
Q: How does Ovation Data’s experience in other industries benefit its Energy clients?
A: Ovation has been a pioneer in providing technology to its clients, related to both unstructured and structured big data. One benefit of our work in multiple industries is that we bring experience in facing a myriad of issues and solving problems with customized and innovative solutions. Of course, our clients can leverage our knowledge and expertise in improving their processes with best practices, and beefing up security. But transcending all that, they can also use Ovation technology to extract value and generate revenue from their data.
Practically speaking, Ovation helps our clients transform idle data into a profit center by decimating data sets and then offering potential buyers a flavor for data available for purchase and a space to view it. As examples, our Entertainment customers gain the ability to view specific scenes or videos, while Energy companies can decide to re-license their proprietary seismic data from certain plays where they are not currently drilling. Ovation software can vectorize a seismic section and well logs, take it from analog to digital, create meta data, then make it fit for purpose. In short, we can vectorize your seismic data for use in new exploration software, and we can reformat well data to read trends. We can digitize your x-ray images to feed AI models, migrate your media files to take advantage of the newest remastering techniques, and more.
Q: What should companies look for in their data management partner?
A: I suggest investigating several areas. First is always reputation. Everyone wants a provider they can count on. Ovation has a stellar 40-year reputation as a service provider of transcription, scanning and storage. We have developed unique proprietary tools and formed strategic partnerships that bring our clients the best services in the industry.
So, the matter of partnerships is another key aspect to consider. How is your prospective data management partner leveraging the latest technology of its own partners? Who are they working with to integrate the best of new technology to bring you the highest level of innovation, deployed as rapidly as possible? Clients want confidence that their strategies are supported by top-notch approaches and are not lagging behind.
And of course, the quality of the client experience permeates everything. A competitive, differentiated, and customized offering of services that solves your specific needs is so important. Clients want a full solution with a single point of contact and personal one-on-one interaction. We are not only the leader in our space; but we are the only one that can boast our full portfolio of service offerings.
Q: What’s coming next? And how is Ovation Data’s product development innovating to stay ahead of the curve?
A: Our motto is “Data yesterday, today and tomorrow.” As I mentioned, we take data management to the next level and drive its evolution from transcription to digital and beyond. We guide good data governance policies that run the gamut from how data comes in, who encounters it along the way to extract value and add value, to determining its final resting place and capturing metadata that enables access and provides relevance. We are developing more effective ways to share data and use our private cloud to reduce the burden. Our expertise and proprietary tools improve analysis and leverage the growing benefits of AI and machine learning. Our commitment to innovation has been proven for decades and we know that it will continue to set us apart well into the future.