The upstream oil and gas sector is well behind other industries when it comes to being digitally enabled. The iconic image of “roughnecks” — overall-clad workers with oil-stained faces handling equipment on a
drilling rig — has not changed much over the past few decades, even as the industry is recognized for its technological innovation. Yet look at a modern-day automotive manufacturing plant, where lines of
workers assembling individual car parts already have been largely replaced by robots. The difference between the two images is clear.
That said, there is an enormous amount of interest in and expectation around the benefits that digital solutions can bring. Although many oil and gas companies are trying out new digital ways of working, no one can claim to have “cracked it” just yet. We believe there are some basic guiding principles that companies should consider when developing their digital business models:
1. Digital transformation is not a technology-led solution. It is a business-led transformation that leverages technology.
2. This transformation requires all aspects of the operating model (vision, strategy, process, culture, and behaviors) to encompass digitization.
3. Digital solutions need to be holistic. All dimensions of a company and its operating ecosystem (its suppliers and external partners) need to be digitally enabled.
4. Companies need to develop their own digital transformations because there is no “best practice” model in the sector to replicate.
5. Getting the right weighting between technical (the engineers) and technology (the data scientists and software engineers) capabilities is critical.