In brief

In brief

  • Digital is transforming industries and technology is putting companies on the reinvention path, however the journey is increasingly complex.
  • Energy companies are all investing in digital technologies, but there is a question of how the leaders will set themselves apart.
  • Oil companies looking to differentiate themselves must be aware of five distinct technology trends that will characterize the “post-digital” future.

Today, digital technology is a strategic priority for every business. In the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 survey of more than 6,600 business and IT executives (of which 168 were oil and gas companies) 94 percent of respondents said the pace of technology innovation in their organizations had either accelerated or significantly accelerated over the past three years.

The energy industry continues to play catch up with changing consumer expectations and the pace of digital transformation. Technology companies are larger (as measured by market capitalisation) and are looking to disrupt all sectors including energy. The energy industry will need to defend itself from these disruptors at a time when it is experiencing diminishing returns (despite widespread cost efficiencies) and increasing investor and activist scrutiny.

A post-digital age

The post-digital era will be one where each consumer, employee and business partner will have their own reality, and every moment will represent an opportunity for companies to play a role in shaping it.

Organizations will need to deliver not just personalized, but also individualized experiences to meet changing consumer expectations which are becoming more “digitally mature”. Businesses need to acknowledge that they’re not alone on their digital transformations and that people too are transforming – often faster than any organization.

The “post digital” world will be characterised by companies who are looking for the next new competitive edge. This world will see companies turning the potential of digital into reality. To date, businesses have used the power of digitally driven mass customization to sell two different options of products or services, then 10 different options, then 100 different options. Companies’ success with this approach has fostered for them the illusion that they can meet any need, no matter how personal or customized. The next era will be characterized by massive pressure as customers, employees and society make their demands known. But it will also provide tremendous opportunities for those companies to maximize new digital technologies to enhance their decision making, making their operations more efficient and delivering the appropriate product or experience at just the right time.

Five trends

Accenture’s Technology Vision explores five trends which explore what the post-digital world could look like from such perspectives. There are critical to every company’s success—and include the technologies that will help the energy sector lead in this next phase of innovation.

Understanding this post technology future is essential. Given their collective prioritization of digital technology, every energy company will eventually converge on the same turning point—one where digital-era technology, which began as a differentiating advantage, is something expected from every business.

Digital has moved to the core of the energy business. Energy executives are reporting that the digital technologies of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (so called “SMAC”) have now moved beyond adoption silos and have become part of the technology foundation of their business. The next challenge is to develop the next generation of technologies to become really differentiated and stay ahead of the competition.

Ninety-seven percent of upstream and ninety-one percent of downstream executives says the pace of innovation in their organization has accelerated over the past three years due to emerging technologies.

Trend 1: DARQ power

Understanding the DNA of DARQ

Distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality, and quantum computing will be the next set of new technologies to spark a step change, letting energy companies reimagine the entire industry and its role in the world:


of upstream and 90% of downstream executives are currently experimenting with one or more DARQ technologies


of downstream companies and 76% of upstream companies agree that the combination of all four DARQ technologies will bring extensive changes to their business (higher than the global average of 69%)


AI is the number one DARQ technology - both upstream and downstream executives ranked this technology as the one which would have the greatest impact on their organization over the next three years

Trend 2: Get to know me

Unlock unique consumers and unique opportunities

Tech-driven interactions create a tech identity for every energy customer— key to understanding the next generation of consumers, and delivering individualized, experience-based relationships.


of upstream executives and 73% of downstream executives report that customer digital demographics is significantly and extensively expanding the number of ways they deliver products and services


of upstream executives and 76% of downstream executives agree digital demographics give their organizations a new way to identify market opportunities for unmet customer needs

Trend 3: Human + Worker

Change the workplace or hinder the workforce

Energy workforces are becoming Human+: each worker is empowered by their skills and knowledge plus a new set of tech-driven capabilities. Now, energy companies must adapt technology strategies to support a new way of working in the post-digital age.


of Upstream and 63% of Downstream executives agree their employees are more digitally mature than their organization, resulting in a workforce “waiting” for the organization to catch up


of Downstream and 76% of Upstream executives believe that increased employee velocity – the pace of workforce movement between roles and organizations – has led to the need of reskilling employees

Trend 4: Secure us to secure me

Enterprises are not victims, they’re vectors – creating new ecosystems

Ecosystem-driven business connections increase energy company exposure to risks. Leaders recognize that just as they collaborate with entire ecosystems to deliver best-in-class products, services, and experiences, security must join that effort as well.


of upstream executives believe that prospective ecosystem partners perceive the security of their organization very highly and 79% of Downstream executives feel the same


of Upstream and 85% of Downstream executives agree that to be truly resilient, organizations must rethink their approach to security in a way that defends not just themselves, but their ecosystems

Trend 5: MyMarkets

Meet consumers’ needs at the speed of now

Technology is creating a world of intensely customized and on-demand experiences, and energy companies must reinvent their organizations to find and capture those opportunities as they come.


of Upstream and 78% of Downstream executives agree that the integration of customization and real-time delivery is the next big wave of competitive advantage


of Upstream executives and 47% of Downstream executives believe that 5G will have significant impact within the next three years


of Upstream and 76% of Downstream executives agree 5G will revolutionize the industry by offering new ways to provide products and services (e.g., drone delivery, driverless vehicles, etc.)

Get ready for what’s next

Tomorrow’s energy industry leaders are already investing in the digital ecosystems of the future and the next wave of emerging technologies. This should give them a good start in the post-digital era—an age with massive customer, employee, and societal expectations.

However, the post-digital world doesn’t mean that digital is over. On the contrary, it is posing a new question for the next era: as all organizations develop their next digital competencies, energy companies will need to ask – what sets us apart?

The 2019 Accenture Technology Vision welcomes businesses into the new post-digital era.

Richard Holsman

Managing Director, Lead – Global Digital, Resources

Julie Adams

Global Energy Research Lead


Top tech trends in oil and gas for 2019
Delivering digital dividends in oil and gas

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