Bhushan Ivaturi describes how Maersk Oil’s digital transformation is placing cloud, automation and data at the heart of the business – while cutting IT operating
costs by a remarkable 50%.
Bhushan Ivaturi’s enthusiasm for the wholesale transformation of Maersk Oil’s IT and digital capabilities is infectious. The Chief Information Officer declares that we are in the midst of major transformation which will see service capabilities boosted, digital security enhanced, and, remarkably, costs tumbling.
“We are building a digital core that enable data analytics to augment business decisions – it’s a very different way of working,” says Bhushan. “At the same time we’re delivering a massive 52% reduction in operational expenditure across global IS.”
We’re delivering a massive 52% reduction in operational expenditure across global IS
This project is no small matter. Maersk Oil may be a business whose work is about safely extracting hydrocarbons involving geophysical and mechanical processes, but digital is absolutely critical to its work. This is a lot more than IT networks that keep the business communicating. This is about the use of sophisticated analytical and artificial intelligence techniques to enhance tasks like analysing cores, mapping reservoirs, predicting flow, enhancing recovery techniques and controlling a vast array of intricate operations in real time. The digital core that Bhushan speaks of is mission critical to the competitiveness and the
future of Maersk Oil.
“Cyber security and cloud computing are two foundational elements that we committed to when I joined Maersk Oil and are still placed at the core of our digital foundation,”
The recent global cyber-attack Petya reinforces the importance of both for the business. Since the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attacks in May, Maersk Oil initiated numerous actions to protect its critical IT infrastructure, further strengthened by the global re-organisation of security, infrastructure and operations. This had an important impact and resulted in an outstanding performance of isolation and restoration during the recent ‘Petya’ attack in late June.
“Cloud and cyber are essential foundations in the digital ambition of any business today. We are rapidly accelerating our adoption and integration of both,” says Bhushan. “To ensure we keep our data and operational readiness secure, we are building an Integrated Security Platform. At the heart of this will be our Cyber Defence Centre (CDC) which will also use predictive and data analytics to aid the operations of our own internal security intelligence centre.”
At the same time, hardware infrastructure is being consolidated and standardised across locations to a lower cost, better secured, hybrid cloud – in other words, infrastructure as a service which is always available and accessed securely.
“We’re moving from silos into a platform architecture that enables faster building, operating and changing for all digital services. That will positively impact what we are doing across the board whether it is analytics, software, applications, infrastructure, security or other services.”
Turning weakness into strength
What is fascinating about the digital transformation is that it is not only enhancing security and improving capabilities, but also reducing costs and eliminating years of technical debt. Bhushan is delighted. “By modernising Information Solutions we are also eliminating US$60m of technical debt,” he beams.
Some of these changes were partially driven by cost-cutting pressures. Maersk Oil’s IS function has reduced its headcount at the same time as facing an increased workload, so it has had to work smarter – far smarter.
How is this possible? “We have taken on this challenge and we are delivering a simplification of the IT landscape of between 60% and 80%, and avoiding years of potential maintenance surprises that are inevitable after years of technical complexity.”
The number of data centres in the business will be reduced from 15 to just 4 by 2018, and the IT supply chain has been streamlined by 95% (200 vendors down to 10). “By consolidating volumes, strategically introducing competition and renegotiating we have obtained reductions from existing suppliers, and these have been significant.”
Quality must not suffer
What could not be compromised, Bhushan emphasises, was quality of delivery. “It is vital as we build our digital core that simultaneously we are building trust in a global community of experts who can perform. I foresee the quality of service provided by global IS as improving significantly. Ultimately our mantra is to deliver digital services for less cost.”
The digital core is only the foundation, however. Maersk Oil will soon be using emerging technologies like machine
learning to accelerate out data management capabilities.
“There are many exciting developments coming up soon, and we’ll be announcing these in the near future, but the direction of travel is set and we are on our way to a leaner, totally transformed, more powerful digital backbone. And that, concludes Bhushan with great satisfaction, will enable us to achieve our strategic business goals.”