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Houston's OilComm and Fleetcomm Event

OilComm has been serving as the energy industry’s leading forum for telecommunications and networking technology since the turn of the century. Now paired with its FleetComm counterpart for commercial transportation and shipping markets, OilComm and Fleetcomm will open its doors for the 18th time on Wednesday, Oct. 3 2018 to a much more diverse audience seeking a more diverse set of solutions, for a more diverse set of challenges. The exhibit hall floor will feature the mobile industry market’s leading satellite, wireless, cellular, microwave, and fiber communications technology vendors, alongside machine-learning application developers, sensing and predictive analytics providers, cybersecurity consultants, Virtual- and Augmented-Reality (VR and AR) hardware suppliers and other new entrants seeking to meet industry demands in the dawn of the big data era. As chair of the event, I’ve put together an event preview that outlines and explains the thinking behind the 2018 OilComm and Fleetcomm conference program that I assembled under the guidance of our advisory board.

OilComm and Fleetcomm has become a place to discuss how to deal with and distribute the massive amount of data industries depend on each day, for nearly all operations. With domestic U.S. energy infrastructure spending on the rise, and mobile industries increasingly investing in data networking and security applications, OilComm and Fleetcomm vendors expect to be very busy this year. In creating a 2018 OilComm and FleetComm conference program that would match the excitement of the show floor while providing learning opportunities for end-users, we identified a handful of key topics for sessions. They are:

1. The convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) teams within industry organizations. For many years, the idea of integrating IT and OT processes has presented the oil and gas industry with a list of technical, logistical, and security challenges. However, now that standards have matured, and Internet Protocol (IP) devices on Industrial Internet of Things (IOT) networks have flourished, integrating IT and OT has become an affordable, feasible, and essentially critical transformation for the industry. Kicking off the OilComm and FleetComm program, we have an opening session featuring Baker Hughes Technical Product and Security Leader Paul Brager, Noble Energy Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Rob Nolan, and ExxonMobil Cyber Security Vulnerability Testing and Management Director Andrew Taylor. Together, the group will discuss how to overcome some of the unexpected challenges related to breaking down IT and OT silos, controlling devices and programs at the network edge, efficient collaboration, and working with standards. The session will also include strategies and tips from industry leaders and workforce specialists.

2. Protecting networks from internal negligence and external threats. Of course, the shadow IT conversation also includes another long-standing, top issue for OilComm and Fleetcomm — cybersecurity. As big-data-driven businesses enjoy the benefits of efficiency and predictability, they must also be aware of liabilities. During a cybersecurity conversation at our 2018 OilComm and Fleetcomm advisory board meeting, one of our members observed that “a company’s cyber-security strategy is only as good as its weakest link.” A system administrator reusing a weak password sounds like a small oversight, but it’s more than enough to cripple a major company network — no matter how sophisticated the rest of the system may be. Network threats are constant. With cyber-attacks becoming more and more sophisticated and dangerous, it has become essential to invest in a complete cyber-security strategy beyond just hiring another IT specialist, installing software, and tracking hardware. Proposing a budget for a cybersecurity battle plan isn’t easy, especially since many of our industries are emerging from a downturn during which cybersecurity budgets were actually cut.

3. The Private 5G Experience for Mobile Industry. Major telcos and cellular service providers have only recently launched consumer awareness programs for commercial 5G services, but mobile industries have been conceptualizing what 5G means for their operations for years. These industries have been spending billions of dollars on supporting infrastructure, driven by bullish market projections; developments in standardization; an endless list of game-changing applications; and a seemingly infinite supply of excitement from investors. As the OilComm and FleetComm community includes several key target markets for private 5G, we felt it was appropriate to bring everyone together for a chance to ask tough and direct questions directly to the 5G network builders.

4. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Augmented Reality. If you’re looking for a grounded and hype-free conversation about automated industrial transportation, look no further than our Wednesday morning FleetComm session, “The Impact of AI-Powered, Self-Organizing Management Systems on Industrial Fleet Operations.” Two of the most brilliant minds working with industrial Artificial Intelligence (AI) —Oceaneering’s Mark Stevens and HyperGiant Co-Founder Will Womble — will explore what will happen when major fleet operators give their vehicles the ability to learn and self-organize. While AI and machine learning haven’t transformed industrial transportation as quickly as Uber and Lyft changed the taxi business, adaptive technologies are already integrated in common driver safety and crash detection systems. We’re about to see a significant leap in AI technology for fleet management. Stevens and Womble will explain the facts behind the self-managing fleet which includes realistic AI adoption timelines based on available and affordable technology; how vulnerabilities and risks would be addressed and managed in an automated ecosystem; how the driver and ship captain’s roles would change; what automated fleets could — and should — learn that experienced operators don’t already know; and more.

While these were the four most popular requests in terms of conference topics, the 2018 OilComm and Fleetcomm show highlights a wide range of thought leadership within our industry. VS