Upstream oil and gas overview

The rate of change associated with digital transformation means disruption across industries, and the upstream oil and gas sector is no exception.

Commissioned by Accenture and in conjunction with Microsoft, the 2017 Upstream Digital Trends Survey focuses on investments companies are making—why, when and which ones—today and in the near term.

The survey shows companies fear that not keeping pace with the rate of change will make them noncompetitive.

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The survey of digital trends in upstream oil and gas shows companies fear that not keeping up with the rate of change will make them noncompetitive.

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Explore the 5 key findings

Companies struggle to realize value of digital

>50% recognize digital value and are looking to invest. In 3-5 years, >70% plan “more’” or “significantly more” investment, transitioning to areas such as high-performance computing, AI, robotics, blockchain and mixed reality.

Greater gains call for analytics maturity

Big data/analytics the top investment area (46%) in 3-5 years. Respondents more mature in analytics than other technologies, but >50% are still implementing big data storage. As analytics accelerate to AI, deeper maturity is needed.

Benefits are constrained by organizational issues

Digital’s ability to cut costs has waned as companies pursue faster decision making and shorter time frames to first oil and gas. Digital calls for creativity and innovation, and “lack of clear business case” is a major inhibitor to value.

Few leveraging digital to resolve workforce issues

Cost pressures mean achieving more with less. ~50% say productivity is top impact of digital. Companies use digital to upskill workforces and leverage contingent labor. Most sense being 3-5 years out from a solid base of digital skills.

Losing digital race a threat to competitiveness

Respondents recognize digital helps address cost reduction, capability improvement, health and safety, and operational effectiveness. Companies reluctant to drill deeper into digital run the risk of becoming non-competitive.

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Making greater headway calls for executives to become involved in envisioning how digital’s next wave can lead to performance breakthroughs.

From cost reduction to value realization

For the industry, the focus needs to move from sheer cost reduction to boosting asset and workforce productivity.

Transition to digital’s future

When it comes to technologies, digital’s next wave is transitioning to artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.

Achieve more with less

Digital advances enable downsized workforces to achieve more with less. Companies must attract and retain those with innovative ways of working.

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About the 2017 upstream oil and gas digital survey

  • Our sixth-annual report on digital technologies in upstream oil and gas surveys more than 300 upstream leaders in 18 countries.
  • Commissioned by Accenture and in conjunction with Microsoft.
  • Conducted in April 2017 by PennEnergy Research in partnership with the Oil & Gas Journal.
  • Examines current and near-term digital investments and focal areas.

Survey respondents include members of executive and mid-level management, business-unit heads, engineers and project managers at:

  • National Oil Companies
  • International Oil Companies
  • Independent Oil Companies
  • Oilfield Services Providers

Richard Holsman

Lead – Accenture Microsoft Business Group, Europe

Brian Richards

Managing Director


The 2019 oil and gas digital trends survey
The 2016 oil and gas digital trends survey

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