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New Ways of Working, an Oil & Gas Roundup

New Ways of Working, an Oil & Gas Roundup

Posted By: Sean Guerre.

Sean GuerreAs Director of WorkforceNEXT Energy, I make the rounds at quite a few events focused on digital transformation, emerging technology and workforce in energy. The advantage of having so many recent sessions and discussions to attend is that I can distill the best parts for your quick reading pleasure:

Discussion 1: New Ways of Working at E&Ps – Breaking Down Silos

1. A working practice is training everyone to be “citizen data scientists” so they can all access the data and create the reports they need right away. (*The key is using an AGILE framework to speed deployment.)
2. They’ve created a new virtual expert team that helps people connect on RPA, drones and get involved with new tech. These are cross-functional SMEs who look at a new technology and how it could be applied in the business.
3. “One Data”- Open data throughout the enterprise and break down silos. Have one data model and a common data store so business units can share best practices.


Discussion 2: It is very hard to comprehend the enormous amount of change occurring right now.

This is causing tremendous cultural shifts in the O&G workforce (ex. 5G connectivity/Edge Computing in the oilfield allow for much higher bandwidth of information flow via VR/AR and mobile devices).

How can companies have all employees start using the new tech applied to their jobs? This is the question most asked during these sessions…the answers vary but typically revolve around building a culture of high engagement and allowing cross-functional team between IT and Operations to insure all are on the same page.

*The big question is how can other E&Ps compete with majors and NOCs who have such huge budgets for digital transformation? How can they stay relevant at a lower investment rate?

Here’s the conclusion: IT in its past configuration cannot compete.

Lead, Join Forces, or Die.

For dealing with the enormous amount of change right now, here are some of the biggest questions and solutions I heard:

Q: How can companies focus on automating their operations?
A: Organizations need to get engineers and others to come along quickly to aid in automation, otherwise the human factor will be the biggest obstacle to deployment.

Q: How are companies dealing with scale?
A:  Intelligent automation can help scale, but the engineers and geoscientists must learn to trust not only the data, but the focus that is driven by the actionable answers via RPA.

Q: How can companies best handle the major Culture Shifts?
A: They can empower the business users. Here are a few key pieces:

  • Like was said in breaking down the silos, companies need to expose and centralize the data.
  • Best practices need to be implemented for people to make decisions based on data versus just experience or gut-feel.
    • Diving deeper on this one: Most people don’t make decisions in their personal life on data, so that’s often the natural flow and transfers to business decisions as well. It’s hard to switch to making decisions on data, and sometimes the data needed is hard to find.
  • Cross-functional teams are key to accelerating adoption.

Even as companies work to integrate these key pieces, there are challenges.

One of the big ones is continuing to focus on key legacy ecosystems. It makes it tougher to transform, since so much is pre-existing.

This talk also brought up questions that were not easily answered…

Q: How do you integrate the legacy vendor ecosystem to the new tools and software?

Q: How much data do you bring into the system since you are now capturing so much? How do you prioritize and monitor? (Possibly Edge Computing can assist.)

All things considered, one best practice and takeaway for any emerging technology implementation or digital transformation initiative is to start locally, execute, then roll out on a global basis on lessons learned.


Discussion 3: Changing How Decisions are Made in Oil & Gas with Digital Transformation

The key challenge here is how to create a different action in the field that yields actual results and drives change.

This challenge fortunately has multiple solutions that, taken together, can greatly alter how to drive action:

  • Cross-functional collaboration: one team looking at data the same way
  • Capture and share best practices across assets
  • Manage by exception
  • Make data-driven decisions
  • Implement accelerated learning

Changing how decisions are made takes 3 essential ingredients:
1. Discovery
2. Insights
3. Actions

“If it doesn’t actually drive an action then the technology has failed.”

The final, difficult part of change management is discerning and responding to everyone’s “wants” versus “needs”. Are the solutions just saving work time or are they driving better operational decisions?  

The overall lesson is that the person in charge of innovation in your workforce must drive the solutions for the actual needs that will drive business results.


Well, these are just 3 recent discussions from leading E&Ps who are well underway with adapting and upskilling their teams for the digital transformation wave.

If you would like to hear sessions on these topics from the leading oil & gas companies, then please take a look at attending our next WorkforceNEXT Summit on April 18th at the Omni Houston, where energy innovation and workforce transformation leaders will gather.