Technology

When data does the talking

 By Gabriella Galloro

It’s called a Data Lab and when I first went inside the office I felt as if I had entered a world of dreams… There was a huge screen across which a continuous stream of data flowed (all just waiting to be read), an interactive table worthy of the press review on SkyTG24 and laser projectors displaying statistics. Behind the monitors were three talented colleagues (Filippo, Andrea and Gabriele) engaged in an ambitious project: that of bringing the culture of data, an integral part of the DNA of Eni, to the communications department. Also because, if the gathering and interpretation of data is a consolidated part of the Oil & Gas sector, using data to communicate is a real breakthrough…

Data is absolutely fundamental to the Oil & Gas industry, where every discovery is the result of the acquisition, processing and interpretation of a data set. Anyone in this area knows that the key to a company’s success lies in the accuracy and rapid management of such information. We have already talked about Eni’s Green Data Centre, which started up just over two years ago, and its ability to run millions of billions of computations in a few seconds, using complex computing algorithms based on physical-mathematical models.
But if no one is surprised that behind the discovery of important fields, such as Zohr, we need to have outstanding data analysis capabilities, perhaps some might not realise that there are numbers hiding behind words. A bit like in the Numb3rs TV series, where a maths genius, applying his own patterns of data analysis, managed to solve complicated crime cases.

Data is absolutely fundamental to the Oil & Gas industry, where every discovery is the result of the acquisition, processing and interpretation of a data set

When we go online, using on social networks and search engines, when we click on an advertisement or buy a product on an e-commerce site, even if we don’t realise it, we produce data that allow organisations to map our interests and develop targeted marketing initiatives to increase the sales of their products and services.
For Eni, data is something more. When used to guide communication, it helps us to find the right words to explain what we’re doing in a world in which the attention of our interlocutors is both the scarcest and most important asset. In this context, the role of the Data Lab is twofold. Firstly, to measure the effectiveness of our communication – because “those who do not measure, can not improve” – and, secondly, to guide the production of specific and non-self-referential content that can attract real interest and meet people’s cognitive needs.
Right now, working in Eni’s communication department is a bit like being a kid again… when on Sunday afternoons we would go for a walk with our parents and dad would keep a small radio in his hands with the aerial up to capture the best signal so as not to miss a single action during his team’s matches.

The role of the Data Lab is to measure the effectiveness of our communication and to guide the production of specific and non-self-referential content

In fact, to communicate today, you need to have the ear trained to capture even the slightest variations in the signal. Because it is not by shouting loudly that you can ensure the audience’s attention, but rather it is by knowing how to listen to your interlocutors that you can communicate best.
This is why, just over a year ago, the “communications data analysis” function was set up, within the communication department, with the aim of developing a culture of data in the context of communication scenarios, and listening and measuring in the digital world. It is where modern data analysis techniques are applied to create predictive models based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. And is where communication really becomes data driven.

READ MORE: Big data, Big advantages by Peter Ward

about the author
Gabriella Galloro