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Energy Powering Opportunity
June 10-12, 2025
BMO Centre at Stampede Park - Calgary, Canada

Digital Transformation of Oil and Gas | Setting up for Success | Global Energy Show

The Digital Transformation Journey of Upstream Oil and Gas Companies

Oil and Gas Rig at Sunset

Digital transformation is the most exciting topic in the oil and gas sector. Now, more than ever, oil and gas companies are embracing a digital mindset to reshape and reimagine how they operate their assets.

Jim Gibson, Chief Catalyst of School for Advanced Digital Technology at SAIT, has spent three decades anticipating the digital innovation shift and understanding the implications and trends that digital maturity presents.

Jim sat down with Rachel Gregory, Digital Host at The Global Energy Show, to discuss how digital transformation initiatives are changing the future of the oil and gas operations and exponentially expediting the creation of new business models for energy companies.

Interview with Jim Gibson, Chief Catalyst, SAIT

What is Digital Transformation?

Rachel: What is the digital transformation, and why is it such an important topic today?

Jim: Digital transformation is really the reimagining of how the business world and our work lives work because of the availability of advanced technologies that make things digital. This means I can move them, I can share them and I can connect with them anywhere, anytime, anyhow. And transformation says that because of new technologies, I need to rethink the way I can add value to our customers and create new products. And so digital transformation efforts really require us to unpack what it is that we do and how we add value.

Integrating a Digital Transformation Mindset

Rachel: What are some of the critical steps energy companies need to take in order to set themselves up for successful transformation programs?

Jim: Critical steps that energy companies need to take are really stepping back and understanding how well are my employees and my leadership team understand the way in which digital technologies are transforming. What are the things culturally that I need to start helping my people get familiar with? Energy companies need to first think about the human side of change and understand what that means and then be ready for some of the technological change.

Leading Digital Transformation Technologies

Artificial Technology Driving  Digital Transformation

Rachel: What would you say are some of the technologies that are driving digital initiatives?

Jim: When you start connecting all of the pieces together and understanding how your business runs, you begin to create lots and lots of big data. When you have that data well organized, you can then start applying some data strategies. Artificial intelligence machine learning is a very big driver of transformational change because it actually frees up and creates new opportunities. The other side is extraordinary advances in material technology and intelligent automation. So the physical, how we build things, and the materials that we are making out and how we design things.

Societal Impacts of Digital Disruption

Rachel: What are some of the broader societal issues that are created when we think about the digital future?

Jim: I’m very passionate about this. I called it “The Law of the Genie that doesn’t go back in the bottle.” We get all excited about things that we invent and release into the world, but once they're out there in the world of transformation and change, we can never bring them back.

I don't think I have fully understood the implications of artificial intelligence platforms and human biases. And the more obvious ones are things like data privacy. And what does it mean to be involved in situations where privacy matters? We have to be thoughtful about the implications of technology and the challenges we need to overcome to realize its full potential. As much as we get excited about digital things, we have to think about what they are in advance because once they're out there, there's very little chance we can bring them back.

Preparing for the Digital Future

Rachel: What would you say are some of the skills that people would need as we look at the changes ahead. And how does this change from industry to industry?

Jim: The first is understanding what's coming, I call it the "awareness skill". Then, being given strategies to keep in touch with what's happening either in your industry or in your particular profession is the concept of “design thinking”. Systems and design thinking help condition people to be ready for what's next. And so we don't just learn a skill; we learn how to learn specific skills that we need to forge ahead. I think that we really need to understand the implications of what data can and can't do for us as we go forward.

The other thing that we're exploring at SAIT is the concept of presence, meaning the virtual versus the physical world. How do I understand my role and my company inside the future of virtual worlds, like augmented reality? So those are skills that we believe will start to become more prevalent, especially in some of the industrial areas going forward.

Rachel: Thank you so much, Jim, for taking the time to talk with us about digital transformation and where we see this change going and what companies can do to ensure success as we move forward.

Learn More About the Future of Digital Transformation for Oil and Gas Companies

Digital transformation initiatives have optimized workflows, increased collaboration, and improved decision-making with real-time data insights. It’s not just about upgrading legacy systems anymore. Oil and gas companies need to embrace a digital mindset to succeed now and in the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about topics like the digital transformation of oil and gas industries and how energy companies are investing in sustainable digital capabilities, register for the next Global Energy Show today.

Digital Transformation of Oil and Gas | Setting up for Success | Global Energy Show

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