Leveraging Digital to Augment the Transforming Oil & Gas Workforce

Oil & gas companies are collaborating with technology partners to ensure enterprise resiliency
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There have been substantial workforce reductions over the past year in the oil and gas industry. In the United States alone, reductions have been between 15 and 20 percent. Potential for long term secular decline and industry volatility causing layoffs is challenging the recruitment of new talent to lead the industry forward. The industry will need to become more agile and efficient to survive with the talent that it has.

Recognizing the Challenge

In the past, competitive differentiation among oil and gas companies might be reservoir productivity, proximity to market, or other factors less related to business model construct or workforce talent. Leading companies are turning to technology partners to build more resilient operations. These partnerships are helping industry participants realize the potential of a superior digital foundation. Chevron has noted how complementary their partnership with Schlumberger and Microsoft is. All consortium partners bring unique competencies clearly not possessed by the others. These partnerships will be more important as the industry pushes to more cloud-hosted technologies.

Requirements for Success

It is important for the digital leadership within these industry participants to identify what is required to build the enterprise of the future. An agile mindset that delivers at scale is the goal. In the past, digital was separate of the business but leading companies incorporate digital into everything they do. Data cleanup and a data governance framework is often the first step on the journey. Many companies in the industry began their initial data cleanup projects in the on-premise data warehouse investments that were made in the last decade. While it may seem prudent to utilize infrastructure that has already been paid for, the pace of change in technology tends to leave these companies in a position of weakness to pursue leading software and technology.

Recognizing the importance of maturing into a cloud-first enterprise can be challenging, but also necessary. Everything from cloud sensors, analytics, edge computing, and compute power are all important cloud hosted technologies that will be the foundation for change. Most oil and gas leaders realize it is vital to build up the capabilities to make decisions at speed. A smaller workforce doesn’t mean there is less work to do. To learn more about the digital transformation revolutionizing the Oil & Gas Industry, read the eBook, The Future Oil & Gas Enterprise.


The challenges are also abundant. Cross collaboration across business units is necessary to unlock, although it may not be common practice or many companies. Getting subsurface data uniform and accessible across the organization is one example of how upstream companies are cross collaborating by bringing reservoir engineering and geoscience data together. Many companies tell IDC the cultural component of the strategy is the most difficult attribute to building a digital first enterprise. The most challenged organizational changes are ones where the right structure isn’t in place to address this element. Oil and gas, like many other industries, has been prone to using spreadsheets to collect data. The challenge is getting these streaming data sets to a central location.

One avenue is utilizing a company such as a system integrator or engineering company to provide data as a service. It is inherent that many business models need to become less IT-centric and focus on the operations of their business. Having a robust IT function with a lot of personnel focused on making data coherent will be burdensome. Data loads are consistently increasing and something such as safety data cannot be compromised because of internal workload. Nearly 50% of all companies still use spreadsheets and manual processes for event and alert management (see figure below).

In Conclusion

Industry stakeholders are going to be keen on not letting their respective enterprises be operationally uncompetitive. Being more productive with a smaller workforce is no easy feat. The leaders will unlock the true potential of their enterprise and separate themselves from their peers. Recognizing the need and being prepared for the challenges will be critical to developing a roadmap to a digitally transformed business. Additionally, impacts of commodity prices, carbon emissions awareness, new energy sources, and capital markets are all also changing market dynamics.

With the Oil & Gas industry undergoing so many pivotal disruptions, how can you gear up your enterprise to adapt quickly? Learn how to build the digital roadmap for the future oil and gas enterprise during the webinar, “Managing a Mixed Energy Future”, live on July 22nd at 11 AM/ET. Click the button below to register.

Andrew leads IDC's Worldwide Oil & Gas program, collaborating with global teams, and is responsible for developing and leading IDC's worldwide research on Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream Oil & Gas operations. His core research coverage includes the ongoing and accelerating digital transformation in the Oil & Gas industry. Based on his background covering the energy space, his research also includes a particular emphasis on how digital transformation is changing energy markets and business models in the sector.