A thriving startup ecosystem
One of the first things you notice about Web Summit is its diversity. All of the leading technology players have a presence, but it also attracts technology startups and investors from around the world.
For Kongsberg Digital, it’s a chance to get a close look at innovations being developed in the startup ecosystem, especially with applications or features that could be used in an energy or maritime setting. We’re always looking at how we might implement emerging technologies or invest in businesses that can bring value to our customers.
Shell x Kongsberg Digital innovation partnership
Web Summit was a perfect stage for Kongsberg Digital to showcase its innovation partnership with Shell. We put on six sessions, including judging Energy Startup Pitching and the ‘Meet the Gurus’ session, which focused on our digital twin as an Industrial Worksurface “where you go to do your work”. We also talked to delegates about Kongsberg Digitals remarkable “innovation through co-location” with Shell and Shell partners at their Energy Transition Campus in Amsterdam.
Digital twins and the Metaverse
Dynamic digital twins sit at the heart of our partnership with Shell, deploying our Kognitwin solution across its energy assets and capital projects. That gives Shell digital versions of its physical assets, where it’s able to collect information in a virtual environment and then analyse and dynamically model its assets in the physical world to inform better decision making. Shells digital twins are making their assets safer, operate more efficiently and increase their lifecycles. As was commented during LNG Canadas session at Websummit, lead by James Maguire and Neala Mark, it was exceptional to see so much demonstrated value for an operator in a digital solution.
When people hear the term metaverse, they probably think of avatars in a meeting, but the reality is far removed from that. A metaverse-like environment that enables businesses to improve the performance of their physical assets is emerging.
Tech finding an industrial home
It might come as a surprise that the metaverse – as a concept and a use case – is arguably developing more momentum within industry than it is with direct consumers. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. There are plenty of other examples of technologies that have been adopted by industry, while finding little traction with consumers. Think of how AR/VR in the form of Google Glass flopped, but how that technology is being used on oil and gas fields, onshore installations, safety training, and more. Drones are another obvious example that has crossed over into the industrial world. All were on show at Web Summit.
One of the main reasons is the cost versus the benefit of these devices. The benefit to consumers is difficult to justify, whereas energy producers are prepared to invest heavily in technology if there is a clear business case. They can also afford to invest what to them are relatively modest sums in technology pilot.
In addition, the energy industry has traditionally been very conservative, but the energy transition is forcing change. Technologies are breaking through because the industry realises change is coming.
It’s encouraging that companies operating in the energy sector like ourselves and Shell attended Web Summit this year. We weren’t the only ones by any means; Energias de Portugal and Galp Energia were other notable attendees. I was slightly surprised not to see a more significant presence from some more prominent players, particularly the operators.
I would certainly expect to see an enlarged presence from the energy industry at Web Summit 2023. As the challenges to the industry increase, collaboration between stakeholders from the energy and industry sectors, such as between Kongsberg Digital and Shell at ETCA, is more important than ever.