14–17 Oct 2019

Executive Briefing: Fusing data and design

Tim Daines (QuantumBlack), Philip Pilgerstorfer (QuantumBlack)
14:3515:15 Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Location: Windsor Suite
Secondary topics:  Design, Interfaces, and UX



One large energy company’s work to optimize natural resource production offers a road map of how you can think through the journey of design and data. In this case, resources were extracted from the ground using a piping system, where small changes in valve settings can impact how much is being pumped from the ground. Business leaders wanted to give the frontline operators data-driven insights to increase production rates—even a tiny increase could result in millions of dollars of revenue.

Data scientists feel naturally comfortable with the language of mathematics, while designers think in the language of human empathy. Creating a bridge between the two was essential to the success of this project. Tim Daines and Philip Pilgerstorfer detail what they learned while creating these bridges, showcasing techniques through a series of “aha” moments.

Data and design experts met with the end users to understand their thought process in routing the fluid through a maze of pipes in the field and what factors led them to choose one pathway over another. These conversations helped reveal that the algorithms didn’t have to think about the trillions of random combinations of valve settings but instead had to consider the holistic route the fluid could take, simplifying the mathematical engine of the solution. These insights were sufficient to power an optimization solution that, in this simplified space, could create suggestions about pipeline setup that surpassed that of any expert.

Photo of Tim Daines

Tim Daines


Tim Daines is a principal designer with QuantumBlack. He’s also a proactive designer, telling the stories of human-centered explainable AI, ML, and IoT experiences across a variety of industries, including digital health, energy, elite sports, and learning. He has over ten years’ experience working closely with people to design and bring to market digital products and services, and he’s an innovative person who enjoys developing products and services across the entire end-to-end human experience, creating lasting experiences, and determining the best solutions to problems through insight discovery and journey mapping. His passion for creating better experiences for people drives all aspects of his designs and naturally aligns with companies who want to understand how their customers and employees interact with their product and services. Tim enjoys turning research gained through stakeholder workshops and meetings into designs that deliver significant value to humans to develop trust and loyalty. He holds master’s degrees in user experience design, and social science and research practices, and has worked with a range of companies from startups to global blue-chip companies across the US, UK, Europe, and Asia.

Photo of Philip Pilgerstorfer

Philip Pilgerstorfer


Philip Pilgerstorfer is a data scientist at QuantumBlack, where he’s a contributor to QuantumBlack’s internal R&D efforts on causal inference. He’s delivered projects in manufacturing, oil and gas, motorsports, and pharmaceuticals. Philip’s academic background is in econometrics, statistics, and machine learning.

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