In an industry requiring absolute accuracy, it is critical Woodside’s engineers avoid guesswork. To ensure precision, they rely heavily on historical context and procedural information. Unfortunately, every time an expert with years of knowledge and knowhow retires, that experience walks out the door with them.
So the question for Woodside became, how do you retain the knowledge of senior experts and make it possible for junior employees to locate, analyze, and learn from it? To make existing knowledge available throughout the company and preserve decades upon decades of collective wisdom, they turned to IBM and Watson.
To amass as much knowledge as possible for their Watson solution, the IBM-Woodside team engaged staff across the organization, and even incorporated input from retirees. “They know what’s useful for them,” said Russell Potapinski, Woodside’s General Manager of Intelligent and Autonomous Systems. “You can’t build a cognitive system without context.”
IBM, Cognitive Engineer
“You have to spend a bit of time training Watson before it will actually work, but it’s been really positive in the operations area,” said Caitlin Bushell, a Graduate Process Engineer for Woodside. Once Watson learned the natural language the staff use and what they wanted to know, it could accurately match data with what they needed. “It’s helped our engineers get up to speed very quickly on what has already been done and how they were managed in the past,” she said. “We can learn from the past, and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”
Beyond helping Woodside capture critical knowledge, Watson has also fundamentally changed employee mindsets, making them eager to leave their knowledge behind for future use. “They’re aware their knowledge will be beneficial for other engineers who might face similar challenges in the future,” said Neil Maxfield, Woodside’s General Manager for Project Capabilities.
Before Watson, Woodside’s engineers spent up to 80% of their time trying to uncover possible solutions or hazards – and only 20% of their time on the actual engineering work. With Watson, time spent on researching has been reduced by 75%, because Watson enables easy access to decides of wisdom and learnings built up by Woodside’s own employees.