Accenture and Microsoft Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey 2017


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 survey focuses on investments companies are making—why, when and which ones—today and in the near term.

Our 2017 survey into digital trends in upstream oil and gas shows companies fear that not keeping pace with the rate of change will make them noncompetitive.

More than half of respondents recognize benefits of digital technologies, but many don’t know how to pinpoint the value measuring it.

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Explore the 5 key findings

Key finding 1

Companies recognize power of digital yet struggle to realize value.

More than half recognize digital value and are looking to boost investment. In 3-5 years, over 70% plan “more’” or “significantly more” investment, transitioning to areas such as high-performance computing, wearables, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, blockchain and mixed reality.

Key finding 2

Greater gains call for analytics maturity.

Big data/analytics ranks as the top investment area (46%) in 3-5 years. Respondents rate themselves as more mature in analytics than in other digital technologies, but >50% are still implementing big data storage. As analytics accelerate to artificial intelligence and machine learning, deeper maturity is needed.

Key finding 3

Wider digital benefits constrained by organizational issues.

Compared to prior surveys, digital’s ability to cut costs has waned as companies pursue the benefits of faster decision making, and shorter time frames to first oil and gas. By its nature, digital calls for creativity and innovation, and “lack of clear business case” is a major inhibitor to delivering value.

Key finding 4

Most not taking advantage of digital to resolve workforce issues.

Cost pressures mean achieving more with less. Nearly half say the top impact of digital is to boost productivity. Companies are using digital to upskill workforces and leverage contingent labor. The majority sense being 3-5 years away from having a solid base of digital skills.

Key finding 5

Oil companies fear becoming noncompetitive in digital race.

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


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

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

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

Digital advances enable downsized workforces to achieve more with less. Companies need to attract and retain people who embrace inventive and highly productive ways of working.


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
International Oil
Independent Oil
Oilfield Services

About the authors

Rich Holsman

Senior Managing Director
Digital & Technology Consulting Lead for Accenture's Energy Industry

Brian Richards

Managing Director
Innovation Lead for Accenture's Energy Digital and Technology business

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