Digital Transformation: The Risk of Slow uptake to Oil & Gas

Chaucer / Energy Viewpoints  / Digital Transformation: The Risk of Slow uptake to Oil & Gas

Just do it!

To coin the phrase from Nike.

This is the mentality that successful individuals and companies share alike. Amazon, GE, British Airways and Starbucks have embraced this methodology and grabbed technological change with both hands, yet within the oil and gas industry, ideation is somewhat stagnant.

A Need for Digital Transformation

Chaucer recently attended the Data Driven Production North Sea conference in Aberdeen, it highlighted the need for O&G operators to digitally transform and showcased some fantastic technologies. The desire for change was there and the ‘just do it’ mentality exists, but there seems to be a real struggle to practice what is preached.

Amazon and Tesla encourage their employees to follow through with ideas, if they work, great! (new revenue stream/cost saving). If they don’t – so what? (R&D cost), just fail fast.

While understanding that the O&G sector cannot replicate this approach throughout its entire operations, due to the nature of the work, it can however adopt this mind-set to transform the IT, HR, Marketing and Finance departments.

Why is Change Still Rare?

Technologies such as the Cloud, AI and Machine Learning enable organisations to become more; efficient, collaborative, cohesive and transparent, which in turn aids oil production, operations and streamlines the supply chain, but resistance in the O&G sector exists.

Innovation doesn’t just mean adopting new and exciting technology, it also means redesigning new working processes and methodology, a potential cost saver, yet change is still rare.


  1. Are too many ‘grey bearded technophobes’ preventing adoption?
  2. Is it easier to continue along the same path and stay within your comfort zone?
  3. Would you rather your competitor make the first move into the unknown?

The downturn in oil price was a blessing in disguise. Yes, a lot of people lost their jobs which was terrible, however it may have saved the industry. Without this ‘kick up the arse’, operators would almost certainly still be using; multiple excel spreadsheets, working in silos and non-communitive.

If the oil price drops to $30/bbl, we know what will happen. If slow adoption continues this risk of going bust remains very much alive. Technology adoption and change must happen rapidly, if it is to mirror the success found in the FS, retail and tourism sectors.

Looking Ahead

In the long term, it is predicted the O&G industry will not be in a position to compete with the likes of Facebook, Google etc. In terms of salary, competition must lie in the interest of work, technology enhances this.

Millennials & ‘Generation X’ have grown up with technology and a thirst for all things new with very little patience to wait for it. A future risk may not come from low oil prices but the inability to attract new talent, the next generation.

The good news is oil companies have started on their digital transformation journey, but senior stakeholders need to listen and support the various business functions to let them ‘just do it’, to drive innovation and change. Adoption needs to happen a quicker pace than the last couple of years if the industry is to catch up and thrive once again.

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