How is Suncor Transforming its Advanced Analytics Capability?

By: By: Mike Krayacich, Vice President for Digital Technology and Analytics Transformation at Suncor

To start, Mike, can you tell us about your professional background leading up to, and including, your current role as Vice President for Digital Technology and Analytics Transformation at Suncor?

I studied chemical engineering in university and then went on to work in the engineering and construction industry for 14 years. After that, I went to Suncor and I’ve been at Suncor 17 years. During my time at Suncor, I’ve spent most of my time in engineering, operations, and technical roles. I spent the first four or five years in our projects organization, and I built a lot of our in situ facilities including Firebag Stage 2 and 3. After that, I went into operations and ran the Firebag operations.

When Suncor and Petro-Canada merged in 2009, I led our in situ merger team for the better part of that year, and then coming out of that, we set up our in situ business unit, and I was our Vice President for Technical Services for In Situ and did that for three or four years. In 2011, we reorganized our oil sands business and I came in as the technical leader for Oilsands and then I moved into my current role as Vice President for Digital Technology and Analytics Transformation.

In my current role, it’s actually in a new organizational structure for Suncor and it’s being led by a Chief Transformation Officer - Bruno Francoeur - who sits on our Executive Leadership team. My role as Vice President Digital Technology and Analytics is looking at how we apply digital technology across our operating businesses as well as functional group and how we are going to advance our analytics capability.

I’m in the process of building an Advanced Analytics organization. We’ve been hiring data scientists, data engineers, developing our advanced analytics strategy, and then are starting to operationalize that now. We are working across the company with all of our business units and functions looking at use cases and at the same time building an Advanced Analytics Academy.

So, your team is part of Suncor’s recently set-up Transformation Management office; can you tell us more about this?

The organization started in May of last year and is headed by Bruno. The primary focus areas for the Transformation Management office are my group, responsible for digital technology and analytics; people and culture transformation; business process and data transformation; workplace transformation; the digital mine; project management and then engagement and communication. Those are the six main roles that encompass our TMO.

Data and analytics are critical assets. How do you get the entire organization to view it in this way and to buy into the overall transformation?

We’ve established at the executive level six transformational priorities for the company and those have been cascaded across the entire organization. Two of those priorities are called “Creating Value From Data” and “Securing Our Future Through Digital Technology”

In terms of our mandate and what we’re really set up to do, all of these roles are full time, they’re all either functional leaders or business leaders that have come from other parts of the business. We’ve all been assigned full time to the TMO, and our mandate really is to accelerate the transformational change. So, through our ELT, we’ve established six transformational priorities across the company, and then the TMO is really there to act as a catalyst to accelerate that transformation and change.

Great. So, you are leading the digital and analytics part of the transformation you just mentioned. I understand you have eight programs in your jurisdiction. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

I mentioned one already around advanced analytics: how do we build up our advanced analytics capability across the company? How do we build a center of excellence? So, we’re in the process of doing that. We’re hiring data scientists, data engineers, data visualization roles.

We’ve been working with the company across the organization to establish our strategy, and then the use cases we want to execute. We’re in the process of identifying our top ten use cases we want to execute over 2020, and we’re in the process of working with the BUs on these.

Like many energy companies, we are a technical organization; lots of people with engineering backgrounds. We are focused on how do we can upskill those folks with new ways of working, agile, artificial intelligence, machine learning-type skills to…

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