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Our latest energy view of the Accenture Technology Vision 2014 finds that the time has come for energy leaders to recreate and redefine their businesses digitally to help create competitive advantage.
Faced with increasingly difficult challenges such as declining production rates, a retiring workforce and cost control of remote megaprojects, the energy industry is racing to understand how to leverage the concepts of digital disruption to help solve pressing challenges and continue to deliver shareholder value.
Harnessing digital disruption and technical innovation is anything but easy. Accenture research shows that while many energy leaders recognize the transformational potential of digital technologies, they still have difficulty executing the ideas in an industry drowning in data and active in scattered, remote locations.
A recent Accenture survey found many energy leaders a little more likely than those in other industries to have aggressively pursued and invested in mobile technologies as a key business strategy, yet their progress lagged that of their peers.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2014, which identifies the top emerging technology trends, shows how the trends that helped companies such as Google and Amazon to become digital disrupters—such as the digital-physical blur, crowdsourcing and the data supply chain—are starting to infiltrate the energy industry and encouraging traditional industry players to become the digital giants of tomorrow.
The digital-physical blurTransitioning digital technologies from the periphery of our lives to the core involves a digital-physical blur. This offers energy companies a model for using digital technologies to not just augment or tweak existing processes—but radically improve them. Several developing technologies in this field, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, wearable computing devices and 3D printing, show promise for wider industry applicability.
From workforce to crowdsourcingDigital giants have been successful in leveraging large numbers of people outside of the complete tasks whether in developing open-source software or creating applications on top of enterprise platforms, leading to a market capitalization per employee significantly higher than in the energy industry. Cloud, social and collaboration technologies can help energy companies extend workforces outside the traditional enterprise.
The data supply chainEnergy companies need to start thinking of a data supply chain to innovate how data is sourced, modified and delivered to the business to create value. For example, producers looking at enhanced oil recovery techniques are using data from the well to connect to a central analytics capability in real time, meaning they can see the immediate effect of increased pressure and react accordingly.
The global energy sector is being reshaped by a confluence of diverse forces. As a result, existing operational approaches and legacy business models are being tested like never before. Against this backdrop, digital technologies provide organizations with an opportunity to achieve significant improvements in performance.
Forward-thinking players that successfully transform into digital businesses by embracing these new ways of working will become the industry’s disrupters of tomorrow. The time has come for energy leaders to define their organization’s place in this brave new digital world.
Rich Holsman, managing director – Energy Global Digital, Accenture.
Benjamin S. Carey, managing director – Strategy at Accenture.
Brian H. Richards, senior manager – Energy at Accenture.
Gregory J. Cloonan, consultant – Strategy at Accenture.
July 30, 2014
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