August 01, 2014
Digital disrupters: Are energy companies next in line?
By: Richard Holsman

Standing on the cusp of profound and disruptive technological changes that allow machines and people to work together, faster and smarter, the energy industry is transitioning digital technologies from the periphery to the core to radically change the way it works. Our latest energy view of the Accenture Technology Vision 2014 finds that traditional players in the oil and gas companies hold tremendous potential to transform into tomorrow’s digital giants.

The digital-physical blur is allowing oil and gas companies to taste success in their continuing research on using robots or drones to carry out work that is hazardous or difficult for humans. Take for example a 10-company consortium’s effort to develop robots to replace humans in the dangerous work of inspection of pressure vessels and storage tanks used extensively in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, enabling access to instantly actionable information with the potential to save lives. Using latest digital technology that incorporates common sense, the new robots are easy to deploy and operate.

Taking robots to the skies, use cases for autonomous aerial vehicles or drones are abundant—in fact, they may be available by end of next year. One company, for instance, is experimenting with flying drones equipped with heat-seeking cameras to inspect stretches of oil pipeline to get a virtual view of the pipeline. Drones can also be used to detect survivors of accidents and disasters and deliver supplies to emergency zones. Apart from improved operator safety, they also present significant cost savings opportunities in “automated data gathering and maintenance, integrity and surveillance workflow, and data analysis to generate predictive insights on facilities.” This will help companies achieve faster and cheaper operations, higher production and even higher efficiencies. Read how energy companies today have the opportunity to be digital disrupters—recreating and redefining their businesses to help create competitive advantage.

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