Global Chief Information and Digital Officer
Dr. Sami Ben Jamaa
[主催] 和歌山大学 経済学研究科（エネルギー・アナリティクス＆政策プログラム）
[開催協力] 和歌山大学 経済学部 経済総合研究所
This special lecture provides some interesting insights into the dynamic relation between energy and digital transformation (DX). Dr Sami Ben Jamaa is an expert on information and digital technologies, serving as the Global Chief Information and Digital Officer at JERA, the leading Japanese energy firm. In addition to the energy operations, development and management divisions, the department of business optimization plays a crucial role in increasing efficiency and ensuring long-term profitability. These optimization efforts are also vital to the realization of the 2050 vision of net zero-carbon emission. Their effectiveness may very well depend, however, on the extent to which DX permeates various decision-making and operational processes to facilitate the energy transition.
Dr Sami discusses the challenges of optimization and value creation through digital transformation by addressing issues related to inefficient applications, unstructured data systems and inadequate infrastructure. Optimization solutions are inclusive of automation, master data control, or group-wise infrastructure, inter alia. The information technology and digital transformation dimensions reflect the linkage between process driven strategies, data-driven infrastructures, and customer-driven systems. Dr Sami contends that it is perhaps appropriate to consider new community-driven models of sustainability.
Sustainable DX is function of the vision and values pursued by the energy firm and the nature of partnership with its ecosystem. The DX roadmaps and execution plans should be reflective of these values and degrees of flexibility and agility. Megaprojects including Digital Power Plants (DPP) and transformational projects require the introduction of advanced technologies from cloud global infrastructure to AI & ML solutions and the development of global infrastructure. The principal challenge is to improve the firm capabilities through better organization, education and change management. It is these improved capabilities that will enable the firm to develop new energy-portfolio services supported by information technology architecture, group governance policies and rules, and guidelines for technology development and security. Thus, sustainable DX is crucial for the firm’s sustainable growth and its ability to seize future opportunities to serve communities and society at large.
It is crucial for a global energy firm with assets spanning four continents to optimize its risk-return function. Optimization in the critical area of finance is driven by the need for dynamic financial risk hedging. Indeed, the volatility of energy markets, variety of currency units, and diversity of energy transportation vehicles are the source of various settlement and operational risks. In order to ensure sustainable energy supply and firm profitability, it is imperative that profit-loss calculations, credit risk estimations, value-at-risk analyses, and economic growth forecasts are conducted on the basis of accurate and timely information.
There are four principal areas where DX can effectively transform energy firms, including changes in energy markets, business uniqueness, power asset management, energy industry prosumer trends. The forces of decarbonization and decentralization are exerting unprecedented influence on energy market dynamics. Similarly, global footprints, large asset bases, end-to-end value chains, and excellence in energy trading define the extent to which energy firms can play a significant role in shaping the future of energy. In this respect, blockchain technologies can be instrumental in promoting end-to-end CO2 tracking, and addressing the environmental concerns of customers. Also, the extent to which energy transition, optimization solutions, and decarbonization activities are effectively managed is likely to affect the terms of power asset ownership. Finally, the trends toward energy cost reduction, clean energy, and prosumer (producer-cum-consumer) attitudes may also determine the course toward prosumer transformation of the public chemical industry. Thus, DX is bound to accelerate these trends and unlock new opportunities for value creation and delivery mechanisms that strengthen efforts toward not just a customer-driven but a community-driven energy sector.
As Dr Sami’s answers to some pertinent questions put forward at the end of a thoughtful presentation make it clear, DX has the potential of expanding the possibilities for energy firms to make optimal strategic decisions, reduce risks, and achieve efficiency gains, but these efforts may fail and turn to be rather counterproductive in the absence of a conducive mindset and appropriate organizational changes. A word of caution is also warranted with respect to relation between DX, data science, and data engineering, among other issues. Following a word of appreciation, the lecture was closed with the hope that students and the general public will continue to benefit from unique insights from leading experts in the field in order to promote the new vision of community-driven energy sector.