Statoil’s enterprise information architecture growth starts with DAMA framework

Statoil is establishing a global enterprise information architecture using a framework from DAMA, an international data management association.

Statoil, a Norwegian oil and gas company with 20,000 employees in 34 countries, is establishing a global enterprise information architecture using a framework from the Data Management Association, or DAMA, an international organization for managing information.

Eldar Bjørge, leading information architecture adviser at the company, said that the DAMA framework is “vital” to its data management programme, in an interview with week, he will tell an audience at IRM UK’s compendium event, Data Management, Information Quality and Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence, about the Statoil experience with the DAMA methodology in defining information management terminology and functions.

Oil and gas companies have been dealing with what is now often called “big data” since the 1990s. Seismic data was in the hundreds of terabytes then and is in the petabytes now.

“There is a lot we can now learn from other industries. We are not special any longer, not struggling on our own. The film industry is on a similar level to us, as an example,” Bjørge said.

If the oil and gas sector has pioneering experience with managing huge volumes of data, it also knows about the development of silos, which need to be busted with an enterprise approach to data management, on Bjørge’s account. At Statoil an enterprise approach began to be developed around three years ago. It was at that time that Bjørge assumed his present role.

“Our information management strategy is to use off-the-shelf processes and technologies and not invent anything ourselves,” he said. “Above all it has to work globally and has to be always available.

“Our siloed landscape has evolved during the history of the last 20 years. There has been a lack of time to take a holistic view. People often say you should only do something if customers or users are demanding it, but sometimes you have to do things from the top down.

“The [oil and gas] process areas are so big -- exploration, project development, operations processes over the platforms and fields -- that there is a drive to create silos. There are also lots of [IT] specialists in this area, and each has their own toolbox.  Statoil has 3,000 applications. The problem has always been to integrate that complexity. We have to integrate these silos, but that was not the focus up till a few years ago.”

Bjørge leads a team of around 10 enterprise architects. They chose the DAMA framework after assessing vendor-specific frameworks, such as Accenture’s and IBM’s and those from analyst houses Forrester and Gartner. He also confirmed that IPL, an information management consultancy based in Bath in the UK, has been a helpful guide. “A lot of the frameworks are very complicated for the users. And if people do not understand, they do not listen,” Bjørge said.

Bjørge has encountered a skills gap in information architecture. “There is a lack of people with the competence and skills to do conceptual modeling. People are skilled in doing modeling in applications, but making abstractions is a problem.”

Now that Statoil has a high-level master data model, reflecting the DAMA framework, Bjorge and his colleagues will decide on the MDM technology to use over the next six months.

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