Deep partnerships, design thinking: Enbridge’s Technology + Innovation Lab

The year 2020 certainly had its share of change and challenges. With the energy transition already underway, unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty have made it even more critical for our industry to turn challenge into opportunity and innovate to adapt. This is where the Enbridge Technology + Innovation Lab (T+IL or “the Lab”) comes in.

Presentation at Enbridge's T + I Lab
In Enbridge's Technology + Innovation Lab (T+IL), subject matter experts and technology specialists work together to explore new business opportunities, discover valuable insights, and work adaptively to advance real solutions.

Enbridge leverages the T+IL to solve complex business problems by connecting business and operations experts from across the company with technology specialists.

The T+IL uses cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics to deliver innovative products that solve real business problems. 

Tackling these challenges requires a new way of working.

Collaboration without boundaries means bringing subject matter experts and technology specialists together to explore new business opportunities, discover valuable insights, and work adaptively to advance real solutions.

Enbridge business units surface the ideas they believe can generate significant improvements in performance and productivity. 

The T+IL adopts agile practices and design thinking methodologies, supplemented with coaching and communities of practice to connect diverse roles and experience from across the organization.

Diverse experience, skills, insights, perspectives and expertise are leveraged to build solutions and products that drive the most significant business impact.

“In the Lab, we’re finding creative ways to use design thinking, which is a user-centered approach to problem solving. By placing people at the center of the design process, understanding their needs, pain points and the problems they encounter, we can drive innovation at a much deeper level from the grassroots and to deliver breakthrough ideas.”

—Vincent Dansereau, Design Head, Enbridge Technology + Innovation Lab

Design thinking informs what problems we are trying to solve and why. The T+IL works with business users to understand the issues they face and focus on the business value, which sets the direction. Journey maps are developed to understand the story and associated experiences.

The T+IL incorporates agile practices in-order to decompose a complex problem and evolve solutions iteratively and incrementally based on continuous user feedback. The highly collaborative environment results in high-velocity delivery by the development team where value is realized in quick two-week increments, rather than the traditional delivery typically measured in months and years.

“Our talented team is applying new methods, mindsets, and advanced tech to solve the pressing business problems of today. We utilize design thinking and agile practices to break down the problem together and then iterate the solution rapidly in a highly collaborative way.”

—Seshadri Veeraraghavan, Agile Coach, Enbridge Technology + Innovation Lab

The key to this agile approach and design thinking approach is to continuously cultivate user feedback and course-correcting to keep improving and delivering both business and user value.

“Our approach is business-led, technology-enabled problem-solving using innovation. This iterative approach lets us take calculated risks and bake quality in from the start. Feedback loops ensure a higher quality and valuable product.”

—Tony Khoo, Director, Enbridge Technology + Innovation Lab

Lab employee working on a tablet
Adapting to changing conditions and user needs requires the ability to overcome, adapt and improvise.

The ability to adapt to changing business conditions and user needs requires a matching mindset of also being able to overcome, adapt and improvise. The T+IL continuously cultivates an environment of diversity and inclusion, bold thinking and accountability that builds resiliency and delivers on product outcomes.

Our products are focused in four strategic areas:

  • asset health and monitoring
  • asset utilization and performance
  • customer experience
  • productivity enablement for liquids, gas, and renewables.

We believe these focal areas will ultimately aid Enbridge in achieving our strategic Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) targets as the world shifts to a low-emissions future.

The T+IL approach enables Enbridge to reap the benefits of applied innovation and technology at scale and support the business areas that ensure the health and safety of our assets. The availability of more data and better data leads to better problem-solving and increased confidence and timeliness of critical data-driven decisions.

“We’ve now created two technology and innovation labs, one in Calgary and one in Houston, and the labs bring together our data scientists, technology platforms, and our operating commercial experts. These highly focused teams or pods generate ideas and applications to improve the bottom line. This happens in what we call short sprints. So, if one idea doesn’t pan out, they move on. I think the labs really allow us to unshackle the thinking and it’s really inspiring to watch these teams work. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is with three live cases. Orion uses machine learning to clear complex bottlenecks in our terminals on the liquid system to optimize the flow of crude. Even small path improvements increase capacity and throughput on a very large system.”

—Al Monaco, Enbridge President and CEO