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1126 FOL Suncor

Mike Teshima is Suncor’s director of digital innovation and development. Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Suncor’s reputation as an innovator is well-known. And its newly minted partnership with Microsoft will only further cement its role as an energy pioneer.

“Innovation is really part of Suncor’s history, from being one of the pioneers of the oilsands to the many developments that have occurred since,” says Mike Teshima, Suncor’s director of digital innovation and development. “We have always been pushing the edge of innovation, and now we see the opportunity to leverage digital technology advances, which is why this opportunity with Microsoft is so exciting.”

The deal involves widespread access across the integrated energy company, headquartered in Calgary, to the latest Office365 cloud-based software to “modernize the employee  experience.”

As Teshima explains, “we’re seeking to create a truly connected and collaborative workforce.”

Giving workers the best tools available involves much more than cutting-edge enterprise software. Suncor’s partnership with Microsoft also includes harnessing the tech giant’s Azure cloud computing power, providing access to technologies such as advanced data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

“We’re trying to radically transform our business,” he says. “Through using digital technologies, we expect to see vast improvement on the revenue and cost sides, but there are also big strides we can make in terms of worker safety and environmental management.”

In a bid to improve worker safety, the company is implementing the use of autonomous hauling trucks at its mining operations near Fort McMurray. As well, its employees use wearable technologies to keep them safe on the job site.

Now the partnership with Microsoft ups the ante for Canada’s energy industry, already renowned as forward thinking.

Suncor’s focus on AI and advanced analytics will provide engineers and technical experts with the data and insights needed to maximize assets and production while reducing the company’s carbon footprint, he says.

“It’s not that the analytics and artificial intelligence will replace our workforce,” he says. “It will augment roles, allowing people to do more high-value work.”

While Suncor’s focus on innovation and technology will benefit its global operations, its efforts also have a positive effect in Calgary.

“This Microsoft partnership is a great first step, but we’re also engaging more deeply in the innovation ecosystem that already  exists here. That’s good for us, and it’s also good for Calgary.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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