There’s a lot of buzz in the exploration and production (E&P) sector about the Open Subsurface Data Universe (OSDU™) forum. And for good reason. OSDU offers something that hasn’t been available to upstream companies before—a cloud-based platform that acts as a system of record and standardizes data formats for applications. In that regard, OSDU has the potential to be an important element of any company’s digital transformation.

We are excited by what the OSDU platform will mean for the oil and gas industry. It has the potential to dramatically improve application interoperability, accelerate workflows and drive operational efficiencies—all while delivering meaningful insights that inform better, faster decision making. But we’re also mindful that the platform is not a silver bullet. It helps to resolve issues of data accessibility, integration, contextualization and interoperability. But it also introduces several new issues that must be taken into consideration.

Here are the top questions we’re hearing in the field:

How disruptive would a transition to OSDU be to our day-to-day operations? What can we do to minimize the impact?

Most operators have already developed their own data and application infrastructure. Even though these homegrown solutions may not be the most efficient or streamlined, they’ve enabled those companies to carry out their day-to-day operations. Upstream leaders fear that introducing OSDU will disturb their established infrastructure ecosystem and will likely require changes across the data, integration and application layers of their technology stack.

It’s a valid concern, to be sure. But it is somewhat alleviated by the fact that historical data loaded into OSDU can be transformed and enriched—and ultimately made more valuable to the business. Before making the switch to OSDU, operators will need to weigh the benefits of enriched data and assess the level of disruption they would be willing to tolerate during the transition.

Can we establish a business case to justify the transition? Do we have the appetite for change that a move to OSDU would require?

There are also questions about the OSDU platform’s maturity, quality of services and workflows and breadth of functional applicability. The last thing an operator wants is to lose or corrupt its existing data while implementing a not-yet-proven alternative. Operators, therefore, need to realize that the transition to OSDU is an incremental process. It should be driven by several factors, including business justification, functional coverage and application integration availability. A strong business case for change will spell out the advantages—and the effort involved. Although the transition to OSDU might seem like a technology implementation, the impact is much larger. Strategic planning, application rationalization, governance, change management and business user experiences would all be affected.

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Driving Digital Transformation with OSDU™

Our OSDU™ Data Platform brings data into one location to remove data silos in the oil & gas industry and enable innovation.

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Are we confident that OSDU-compliant solutions will allow us to avoid “vendor lock-in”? Can we be sure that an independent software vendor (ISV) platform will provide the optionality and interoperability we need?

A third—and arguably, greater—concern involves an operator’s reliance on third-party technology service providers. While OSDU addresses several data quality, data exchange and data contextualization issues, operators will still need to engage with technology partners to enable workflows on top of the OSDU platform. Data migration, ingestion, governance, quality, analytics, intelligent data search and application rationalization are just some of the activities that will need to be supported. And although OSDU addresses the data exchange between applications, its ability to support true information exchange, interpretations and model outputs between and across applications is limited. Vendor-neutral technologies at the integration layer will be needed to further contextualize data, its attributes and user-generated interpretations and make them accessible to all the applications within the organization for meaningful analyses.

For all these reasons, operators are nervous about “vendor lock-in”— selecting a technology service provider that is unable (or unwilling) to enable the exchange of enriched data and interpretations between other ISV applications that the operator may want to use. Their hesitance is understandable. Technology providers are currently packaging proprietary versions of OSDU while it’s not yet fully known how these solution bundles will affect interoperability of data and applications or ISV optionality.

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However, OSDU’s recent release of guidelines for Domain Data Management Services (DDMS) should alleviate some of the fear about ending up with an enhanced—but non-standardized—dataset that can’t be used by an application from another vendor to perform additional or different analyses. The DDMS guidelines stipulate that all technology providers will need to deliver domain data services in a way that is truly OSDU-compliant. While the scope of requirements and timelines for compliance have not been defined, the pace of change in this area has been extraordinary. Therefore, we think operators can feel confident to pursue the deployment of any ISV platforms—if not now, in just a few months.

The bottom line is that OSDU has the potential to eliminate the silo-induced challenges associated with data access, contextualization, standardization and interoperability. While there are still some unknowns, we believe the potential value of this new industry-standard data platform outweighs the risks. What about you?

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this document are meant to stimulate thought and discussion. As each business has unique requirements and objectives, these ideas should not be viewed as professional advice with respect to the business. 

Akrit Kaur

Senior Manager – Accenture Applied Intelligence, Energy


Manas Satapathy

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Energy


Paul Hodson

Senior Manager – Strategy & Consulting, Energy, OSDU, Europe


Emma Wild

Managing Director, Head – Upstream Energy, UKI and Europe

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