When consumers drive up to a gas station with high-tech pumps, they might get the impression the entire oil and gas (O&G) industry is part of the technology revolution. In reality, many O&G operations have yet to undergo a digital transformation, and instead hold on to outdated practices. Digital transformation to them means simply replacing paper-based tracking systems with old-school, error-prone excel spreadsheets.
What’s the reason for the lag? According to the EY Oil and Gas Digital Transformation and the Workforce Survey 2020, a significant amount of organizations (two-thirds) consider the inability to change quickly as a major challenge to the adoption of digital technologies in their companies. Oil and gas companies are basically process-driven. From upstream to downstream, every step of the value chain is organized by rules and regulations designed to achieve a routine working environment, posing a major obstacle to effective transformation in the sector.
As demands for greater efficiencies, streamlined services, increased production, and improved ROI increase, O&G businesses should feel driven and determined to invest in digital transformation. COVID-19 made this imperative even more urgent. But how can innovators in the field convince leaders to innovate more rapidly and effectively? For example, 75 percent of companies believe they already have the right skills to derive value from mobile and cloud investments. Surprisingly, over 90 percent of those businesses say they already use these technologies. Yet, the sector sees inefficiencies and a lack of process management that impacts energy service providers across all aspects of their production and service line.
First, the EY study highlights that a new generation of leaders and decision-makers is needed to move the needle on progress toward instilling a culture of innovation that supports the adoption of digital technologies.
In addition, the O&G industry needs to shift industry dynamics in preparation for a younger, more technologically savvy workforce to emerge and train.
And, lastly, mounting global tension in Ukraine and overseas have presented new challenges requiring innovative, more seamless technologies that can drive down costs in an unpredictable environment. These new global threats combined with an industry that is still floundering after a post-pandemic economy has led to an ever-increasing need to innovate.
Without question, digital transformation should reach every part of O&G, whether at an oil field service or a production operation. But where does a business even begin to introduce digitalization? The first step to digital transformation is to invest in the tools and solutions needed to support companies and workers in the field. Field service technology solutions help process tickets and forms more efficiently and seamlessly, preventing gridlocks in the quote-to-cash process.
When weighing all the pros and cons of investing in new technology for companies that are already making millions, with the recent and unpredictable global volatility impacting the industry, here are a few reasons why the O&G industry should choose to invest in innovation:
Equipment Rentals: Have you ever tried to rent a car? The process can be daunting. Imagine managing an equipment rental process encompassing multiple elements and individuals involved in the process? Field operations technology creates a seamless experience from the warehouse to the back office, allowing companies the flexibility to utilize the latest equipment and technology without being hampered by outdated procedures.
Scheduling and dispatch: The efficiency of a scheduling and dispatching service for any company can make or break their business and reputation. Digitally transforming the scheduling and dispatch process is essential in a world where time and speed are everything. The utilization of field service technology allows companies to stay informed of all job-related data by tracking all resources in one place. They can also track everything they need to know about serialized equipment, including movements, job history, inspection and maintenance records, and trends.
Invoicing: Invoicing inaccuracies can cause distrust and friction between clients and customers. By enhancing their invoicing capabilities, O&G companies will reduce customer pushback while supporting the intricacies of each customer’s invoicing requirements, lower billing errors, and decrease time to payment.
Data collection: All individuals take notes differently, but there isn’t much room for inconsistencies or time gaps when collecting data. With workers in the O&G industry required to capture more data than ever before, new technology can make this process more seamless. Advanced logic can guide oil and gas workers on collecting data quickly and accurately while also allowing workers to capture the data online or offline, erasing connectivity issues in the field. Once data is collected, it can create a proactive workflow that enables routine preventative and predictive maintenance and more reliable equipment. Everyone must follow industry regulations, and there’s no better way to achieve efficient compliance than with the support from digitization.
Asset maintenance: O&G companies can utilize digital tools and IoT to gather asset data, monitor the condition of assets in the oil fields, and remotely understand and assess overall health. These devices can remotely measure and understand an asset’s overall health. Companies can decrease labor costs by utilizing these tools, increasing asset uptime, and boosting economic output.
Barreling into the Future with Digital Transformation
In 2022, any O&G business will run more effectively with digitalization, evolve, and even increase its bottom line. The industry can move beyond old-school thinking and manual processes to embrace hands-on digital transformation from the field to the corporate headquarters. Investments in field service digitization and automation will provide beyond a bang for their buck and lead to productivity gains, customer service upgrades, and a significant drop in billing errors. With this current economic market and global events impacting the gas industry, O&G companies have much to gain from a streamlined process that will catapult them into the future.
Matt Danna is the Senior Director of Product Strategy for LiquidFrameworks, a ServiceMax company, and has been with the company for 15-years.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.