Last week energy leaders from prestigious companies including Deloitte, LyondellBasell, McDermott, and Apache Corp. gathered to discuss trends and the future for the oil and gas industry at the 13th annual Conversation with Houston’s Energy Leaders (HBJ) event. Between engaging discussions on future strategies and observations about the current outlook for the industry, one theme resonated across all conversations — digital transformation.
The recent downturn years have sparked talk of digitalization and forced innovation throughout the industry. With oil prices evening out at $50 per barrel as the new norm, companies are looking for ways to help control their margins more effectively. All four panelists point to transformation through digital means.
Technological innovation opens new pathways to do more and do it better. With companies like Deloitte and Lyondellbasell putting their full force behind Big Data, the returns are exponential. Big Data will allow for more informed strategizing and forecasts, such as prediction of failure before it occurs. Both companies stressed that with tech. proliferation there will be an increased need for cyber security in the years to come.
LyondellBasell touched on how drones can more safely, accurately, and efficiently perform safety assessments and measurements as opposed to the use of human resources. Discussions further continued around digital innovation with McDermott’s dialogue on the possibilities of the Digital Twin. The digital twin is a virtual model of any physical asset a company owns. Through it, the system’s conditions can be better tracked, new improvements can be first tested, and it’s data allows for the possibility of executing preventative maintenance–which is more efficient and less costly– versus breakdown repair.
The Long Haul
Apache Corp. exemplifies how a Fortune 500 company can proceed to foster company growth despite volatile industry conditions. By increasingly leveraging digital transformation within their company, they have achieved tremendous growth with minimal increases in staff. They anticipate adjusting to volatile conditions in the industry more masterfully via increased digital capacities. This strategy is echoed throughout the market as companies show increased preference for short-term projects while following more long-term tactics.
Who IS The Future
Every panelist stressed that investing time and resources into recent graduates is now more important than ever. Improvements and modernizations in education are enabling these future leaders of technology to graduate with digital knowledge beyond that of their colleagues that have graduated in years past. As a result, these technologically savvy individuals are reshaping industries and driving the adoption of digital transformation.