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Digital Disrupters

September 5, 2014

Can Oil and Gas Companies Become Digital Disrupters?

Digital Disrupters
Digital Disrupters

Back in 2005, text messages were sent peer to peer, and blogs were typically long essays. Founded the following year, Twitter bucked traditional blogging and allowed users to broadcast microblog posts (tweets) to the world.

The social networking service was seeing 500 million tweets per day, 215 million monthly active users and 100 million daily active users at the time of its stock market launch in October 2013.

So why is this relevant to the energy industry?

Over the past decade, technology companies such as Twitter, Google and Amazon found rapid, tremendous success, not only by understanding the technology of digital disruption such as analytics, mobility, cloud computing and social media, but also by making them part of their core business strategies and thus creating a significant competitive advantage.

The energy industry—faced with increasingly difficult challenges such as declining production rates, a retiring workforce and cost control of remote megaprojects—has as much or more to gain as any other industry by harnessing digital disruption and technical innovation. The race is on for energy firms to understand how to leverage the concepts of digital disruption to help solve these pressing challenges and continue delivering shareholder value.

However, while the concept of digital should be straightforward, the execution is anything but easy. Accenture research shows that while many executives recognize the transformational potential of digital technologies—especially in an industry drowning in data and active in scattered, remote locations—energy leaders still have difficulty executing the ideas.

A recent Accenture survey of global C-level executives found respondents in the energy sector slightly more likely than those in other industries to have aggressively pursued and invested in mobile technologies and, to consider mobility a key part of their business strategy. However, the progress energy respondents have made toward key mobile priorities generally lags that of their peers.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2014, which identifies the top trends Accenture sees shaping technology, provides lessons on improving execution and shows how the same trends that helped companies such as Google and Amazon to become digital disrupters are starting to make their way into the energy industry, creating new digital giants out of traditional industry players.

The digital-physical blur Transitioning digital technologies from the periphery of our lives to the core involves a digital-physical blur. This offers energy companies a model for using digital technologies to not just augment or tweak existing processes—but radically improve them. Several developing technologies in this field, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, wearable computing devices and 3D printing, show promise for wider industry applicability.

From workforce to crowdsourcing Digital giants have been successful in leveraging large numbers of people outside of the complete tasks whether in developing open-source software or creating applications on top of enterprise platforms, leading to a market capitalization per employee significantly higher than in the energy industry. Cloud, social and collaboration technologies can help energy companies extend workforces outside the traditional enterprise.

The data supply chain Energy companies need to start thinking of a data supply chain to innovate how data is sourced, modified and delivered to the business to create value. For example, producers looking at enhanced oil recovery techniques are using data from the well to connect to a central analytics capability in real time, meaning they can see the immediate effect of increased pressure and react accordingly.

Download the Industry Supplement to Accenture Technology Vision 2014

Digital Disrupters – Technology Vision

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