Platform Design

GAIA

What began as a C-level request to create a new sales tool evolved into one of Schlumberger's flagship digital platforms and became an example of how oil & gas would reinvent digital services.

GAIA Seismic Platform

Understand

For four weeks, I collaborated with customers, sales, and PhDs in geology and geophysics to understand the customer's seismic data experience. By identifying, documenting, and interviewing key personas, I went from newb to a nuanced understanding of how customers used, processed, and managed seismic data throughout the oil exploration and drilling process. I created models, personas, and user journeys to capture the customer experience.

At the same time, taking a step back and understanding the organizational processes and context that came together to create that experience was essential. As I navigated org charts and business processes, I realized that my designs could not be isolated from the larger organization. To be successful, I had to facilitate systemic change through innovation, which required a deep understanding of the values, culture, and organizational context.

Design sprint

Armed with domain and organizational insights, I conducted a design sprint to bring the entire team into the co-creation process, identify key hypotheses, and validate findings with users. During the three-day sprint, I facilitated a series of exercises that uncovered insights into the more significant motivation behind the "sales tool." The activities resulted in a shared problem frame that allowed us to reframe challenges into new possibilities. We brought end-users into the workshop to test product fit and validate our hypotheses. By the end of the workshop, the team reframed the problem, prioritized use cases, created paper prototypes, and solidified several strategic product directions.

Design Sprint
Design Sprint

Create new thinking

Next, I synthesized and distilled take-a-ways from the workshop into a set of design principles that articulated and aligned business and user needs. The design principles created alignment across teams and made space for the design team to work, allowing a small team of 2-3 designers to explore and rapidly iterate on several design directions. At the same time, we used executive readouts to bring stakeholders along with us on the journey and communicate across teams.

Design & iterate

Just as Netflix changed consumer behavior regarding media ownership - I wanted to create a compelling platform vision that would shift clients from data ownership to a data access model. As prototypes came to life, we wondered if making a platform vision that completely disrupted the existing sales model was possible. The sales pipeline took anywhere from six weeks to six months to get seismic data into the customers' hands. Our customer research taught us that delivery time drove purchasing behavior.

Just as Netflix changed consumer behavior regarding media ownership - I wanted to create a compelling platform vision that would shift clients from data ownership to a data access model. As prototypes came to life, we wondered if making a platform vision that completely disrupted the existing sales model was possible. The sales pipeline took anywhere from six weeks to six months to get seismic data into the customers' hands. Our customer research taught us that delivery time drove purchasing behavior.

As the design and the larger team went through several aha-moments, I stayed plugged as different pods created proofs of concept and assessed technical feasibility. The design concepts evolved from storyboards to user stories to high-fidelity prototypes. Customers loved browser-based workflows, especially the ability to work with 3D seismic data in a browser! The designs and principles influenced the product roadmap and provided:

  • Digital platform experience for seismic data
  • Aligned technical teams working on technical feasibility
  • Resulted in four million dollars in funding
  • Got customers excited!

Business Impact

Today the GAIA Digital Exploration Platform provides access to more than 3,000,000 km of 3D seismic surveys and 3,000,000 km of 2D seismic data. The sticky yet extensible platform experience lets customer teams focus on what matters and creates value with every interaction. As Schlumberger continues its journey to the cloud, GAIA has become a flagship digital platform and changed how exploration teams use seismic data - a billion-dollar oil and gas vertical.

Contributors

Frank Noz | Author, Lead Design

Chien-Yu Chang | UX & Interaction Design

Danny Dykes | Client & Project Owner

Carlos Garcia | Client Organization UX Design

STIC High-Performance Compute Team, STIC Cloud & STIC Front-end