AspenTech is proud of the relationships we share with our customers and partners in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We hosted our inaugural Executive Forum last week in Manama, Bahrain, supported by Antonio Pietri, our president and CEO, and John Hague, general manager and SVP of our Asset Performance Management business unit.
We welcomed a crowded room of senior business leaders from more than 20 companies across the region. There was a great willingness within the group to share ideas and to partner in strategies, all with the aim of accelerating their digitalization journeys.
We heard about the desire and drive for collaboration across enterprises, and how technology can and should play a major role in that. AspenTech has a key partnership with McKinsey & Co., and Vikas Upadhyay, associate partner, oil and gas ME at McKinsey, gave an insightful presentation on advanced analytics, AI and how to avoid getting stuck in “pilot purgatory.” He talked about the critical importance of associating benefits and value to projects to ensure they can scale after initial success.
One of AspenTech’s most longstanding customers, BAPCO, told the human story of digitalization. A joint presentation from Gaetano De Santis, general manager of the engineering division, and Eugen Negutu, CIO, was a telling reminder of the convergence that is underway between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT). As Eugen said, “We both understand very well that OT and IT convergence is the key to making digital transformation work.”
At the end of the forum, leaders from key customers and organizations including Aramco, BAPCO and the Gulf Downstream Association joined Antonio in a lively panel session to discuss the topics further. All of our contributors had fascinating and insightful commentary, and for me this shared knowledge can be summarized in three key themes:
There is a human story in digitalization: people must be motivated and capable, or it does not work.
Gaetano explained, “This industry [oil and gas] is a very difficult world… Young people feel like they are entering a museum; old people know everything, and we need them and their experience.”
To cover both generations, our customers are demanding “user-friendly systems.”
With that in mind, Antonio updated the group on the customer-led strategy behind AspenTech’s recent acquisitions of Sabisu and Mnubo. He highlighted that “We can now ingest data from any entry point” and explained how technology from these two companies will help our customers share data in real time, create informed plans and elevate visualized data throughout the enterprise.
We also heard from John Hague how machine learning and artificial intelligence technology must be scalable throughout an enterprise to continue the evolution of the industry. John explained the way we do that is by “hiding the data science.” The best way to make it happen is to make it simple for engineers to do.
The evolution of the industry is well under way, and we must now make sure that enterprises invest in the training, education and skills in the workforce that can bring this change at pace. Just as digitalization drastically transforms ways of working, the workforce must transform too.
We must remain focused on best practices, and the introduction of our certification program will play a key part here too. We were glad to see positive consensus from customers on this!
The MENA region is a complex one — of that there is no doubt — but it is also fully loaded with opportunity and potential for growth, and our customers recognize that. They are driving both themselves and AspenTech to keep up with the pace of change and encourage real innovation and transformations.
We are excited to continue our partnerships with customers throughout the coming months, and we are already looking forward to next year’s forum.
To learn more about what digital transformation can offer, download our recent white paper, Next-Generation Operational Technologies Enable the Smart Enterprise in a Changing World.