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Cognite CEO John Markus Lervik: – We’re aiming to become the world’s biggest industrial software company

John Markus Lervik, CEO of Cognite
By Annie Korsmo|Published 22 February 2021|Category: News, Valley Voice

Valley Voice – a column where our cluster members are in focus. What are they doing right now? How are they contributing to the Energy Transition? And which challenges and opportunities lay ahead?

This week’s Valley Voice is John Markus Lervik, Founder & CEO of Cognite.

“The industry is still waiting for its iPhone moment”, says Lervik.

1. What are you doing right now?

Right now I’m in the office. I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of working from home. Before COVID-19, I had only worked from home for half a day — and that’s because I had pneumonia. I love the energy and creativity you get from being around other people, even though the office is much quieter these days than it normally is. 

 2. How is Cognite contributing to the energy transition? 

The most important thing Cognite is contributing with has to do with data. Just think about all the pledges that companies and entire countries have made as we approach 2050. Everybody’s committing to slashing their emissions, if not becoming climate-neutral. But here’s the deal: At the moment, a lot of industrial companies don’t have an accurate way to track and report their emissions, let alone reduce them. 

That’s where Cognite comes in. Our main product, Cognite Data Fusion, fixes the underlying data issues that industrial companies are grappling with. It makes all their data available in one place, and it finds meaningful connections between data that used to sit in different systems. 

Once these data issues are fixed, we can start looking at specific solutions that further the energy transition. For the oil and gas industry, we have already seen energy monitoring dashboards that help operators see where they can optimize their energy use. Going forward we will see how data enables remote operations that reduce need for personnel logistics and virtual concept development tools that improves the ROI of electrifying offshore platforms. For the power and utilities industry, we will as an example expect tools that enable grid operators to connect wind farms and other renewable power sources to the grid twice as fast, hence reducing cost of renewables and in this way accelerating the investments into the energy transition. 

To Cognite, sustainability and profit growth can come hand in hand. Our sustainability mission is tied to helping our customers unlock new data-driven opportunities and ways of working that make their operations safer and more sustainable over the long-term without sacrificing profits.

3. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in the future?

The biggest challenge for Cognite — and the biggest opportunity, to be honest — is all the catching up we have to do in industry.  

Think about the launch of the iPhone and the App Store and how it revolutionized consumer technology. The amounts of data that each app produces hasn’t just changed our personal lives. It has transformed business models and even entire global value chains as well. 

The industry is still waiting for its “iPhone moment.” It’s not for a lack of trying. The truth is that digitalization is just a lot more difficult in industry than in the consumer world. There are so many different systems, so many old systems, and so many systems that can’t connect with one another. 

2021 may be the turning point. I believe that the companies that embrace data and software will be able to navigate the energy transition smoothly and even gain a competitive edge.

4. What keeps you up at night with regards to the energy transition?

Instead of the binary debate about whether or not the oil and gas industry needs to be shut down, I wish there was a larger conversation about how we can tap into the wealth of expertise that already exists in the oil and gas value chain to power the energy transition — and how we can complement that expertise with fresh perspectives. 

I think this is a huge recruitment opportunity for the oil and gas industry. People joining the industry now have a chance to tackle one of the big questions of our time: How do we turn this ship and set it on the right course? 

5. What is the best about being a member of Energy Valley?

We’re a big believer in the power of ecosystems, and that’s exactly what Energy Valley offers.  

Norway has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a leading role globally in the energy transition. We have a proud industrial history, we have a booming tech scene, and we have a tradition of collaboration between different stakeholders in society. We need to work together to seize the opportunity, and Energy Valley is one of the forums that helps us do so.

6. Is there any book that has inspired the way you lead?

How Google Works by former Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. We did not found Cognite with the goal of becoming the biggest industrial software company in Norway.  

We’re aiming to become the biggest industrial software company in the world. One of the topics the book covers is leadership, and the idea of setting clear goals but giving people the freedom to achieve those goals. That’s one of our core tenets as we at Cognite expand globally.

7. Which Energy Valley member do you pass the baton to?

I’d like to pass the baton to Kristin, CEO of Lundin. 

Thank you, John Markus!