Oil price volatility has done little to dampen oil and gas companies’ enthusiasm for digital transformation. On the contrary, according to a recent Accenture survey, they are increasing investment in digital technologies to create business value across the enterprise. Up to 60 percent of the 229 oil and gas professionals surveyed said they were investing the same amount or more despite oil price volatility and up to 80 percent said they would continue the pace over the next three to five years.
Almost all—90 percent—said that they believed investing in digital technologies would create more business efficiencies and value. Digital technologies that enable people and assets are considered the most important. Mobility, infrastructure and collaboration technologies currently represent the biggest investment areas. In the near future, however, more investment is expected to flow into big data, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and automation.
Where exactly are the companies investing to build digital capabilities? Many of them start with their corporate functions, to create more cost-efficient and agile back offices. In IT, digital is supercharging applications and platforms, helping improve infrastructure capacity and cost flexibility. Cloud is enabling new agile platforms and providing access to hyper scale and as-a-service consumption-based models. Mobile and IoT are enabling increased access to information and with cloud are unlocking value through greater insight at the edge and a more automation. All these technologies are transforming functions such as human resources, finance, supply chain management and core operations in the field.
Changing employee expectations, by bringing consumer digital experiences from home to work, and the increased acceptance of crowdsourcing and online labour exchanges is encouraging companies to leverage new collaborative and social ways of working. And the Internet of Things and intelligent platforms are creating a new breed of field worker in the form of smart or intelligent assets that analyse information and act for themselves.
In upstream, digital is putting information in the hands of the people who are best equipped to make the most use of it—those at the edge of the enterprise. It is enabling them to make better, faster decisions. Oil companies are extracting more of the information that is trapped in the data reservoirs in the fields and many are creating a 360-degree view of assets, similar to the retail industry's 360-degree view of the customer.
Lastly, automation in the field is taking on a whole new meaning.
In refining, digital technologies are enabling higher uptime through better predictive maintenance and greater automation leveraging insight created by meshing together IT and operations technology information. In retail fuels, oil companies going digital and better targeting and better meeting the expectations of the new digital customer.