Try to imagine what you would do if you are in this situation. Your development team has just completed their latest project, and you now have a great platform tool looking for only the right problem to solve. How do you demonstrate to potential clients that they can achieve a competitive advantage in their industry? Sounds like one of those too good to be true stories, doesn't' it? Add to the challenge that your company is not one of the big three oilfield service companies, or one of the Silicon Valley digital titans, so recognition and credibility aren't' a given for you going into the clients' offices.
We talk about proof-of-value pilots, and that is the right approach for getting in the door. But this client has been prototyping new technology for several years and is approaching pilot purgatory. They are drowning in too many innovative but independent pilots, done without effective executive oversight with too many tactical local champions pulling for their favorite technology. This is a classic case of starting small and keep thinking small. The chief operating officer is beginning to pull their hair out and threatens to shut down all new technology projects, including yours.
In many ways, moving towards a new software and data platform based on modern technology seems like a 'no brainer'. But why then do a majority of digital solutions continue to fail or not reach their full potential. It is often not obvious, but the barriers to adoption are real, and you have to have a game plan to overcome them, or your project will end up in the dust bin along with the others. that can happen even if the right solution is sitting right in front of them.
Years ago, legacy IT systems were "on-prem" in the client's data center. Updates would put the system down for weeks or months, depending on the last update—these often-meant considerable losses in productivity and the ability to properly serve their customers. What's more, users faced intensive retraining every time a new update was installed.
Today's new systems are "in the cloud." They get regular updates, which for the most part, are seamless to the user. When a significant update does occur, it's still easy for the everyday user to understand the changes and to continue to use the software without changing what they are trying to do.
The training for the legacy software was complex. But a new paradigm has surfaced from consumer technology. Just think about your teenagers, how many of them have to go to two weeks of technical training to be taught how to use their new smartphones?
You would have the "power user" in your organization that you would call for issues. Often, that power user would have to go back to the software company for answers, taking even more time. The new software is more manageable for any user to pick up. Questions are easily solved by any user based on the knowledge published by the company.
But despite these apparent advantages, It still takes a champion, thinking strategically, to lead substantial change in an organization. Digital transformation is not just adopting new technology, like the PetroVisor™ Platform. It is re-imaging your business to leap forward, overcoming today's inefficiencies, as well as the ones you know are coming right around the corner.
Let's take Hollywood as an example. For the next 2-3 years, people are not going to go to a movie theater. The whole idea puts people into sweats. Maybe some high end, niche theaters will make it, but most movie theaters are going out of business. Better popcorn, nicer seats, better sound systems, or larger screens are not going to get people to come back to the cinema right now. People want entertainment streaming in their homes and on their phones. People won't even care about the actors' names, as long as they are good, and access is easy.
What is the future of oil and gas? There are indeed many voices that are saying keep It in the ground and move faster to alternative sources of energy. While you are going to the trouble of adopting a new way to share information, to automated, standardized workflows, to install a platform for advanced analytics, you might as well add one more challenge to the mix and re-imagine how you want to work. I didn't' say this would be easy, but putting a band-aid on today's integration challenges isn't going to be enough, and you already know that.
Will companies be willing to pay for geoscience, reservoir engineering, drilling, and completions expertise, or will an industry knowledge-as-a-service model be more effective? Where is the most profitable place in the new energy industry value chain going to be? The answer probably lies in your corporate databases, but can you find it and run the right model to help you better predict the future? Uber has made the taxi driver and their vehicle a commodity, not an employee or company capital expense, and everyone is getting pulled into the data science aspect no the physical asset management. Is data the new oil? It most certainly is becoming a more critical enterprise asset. Are you happy with the way your company handles this emerging source of value? Where in the energy supply chain do you want to aim for in your strategic plan?
There are undoubtedly several difficult challenges that the C-Suite is struggling with, but the future is more than just getting the right price for crude oil and natural gas and getting the best leases in the basin's sweet-spot before the price skyrockets. Those are still important questions, but so are the role of system thinking and strategic architecture. Strategy or Tactics, where do you measure value?
Getting back to our salesman's dilemma, he now knows he has to vet his customer just as they vet him. They have the money to buy his product but do they have the vision to use it well. The challenge is becoming a partner, not just a supplier, to an industry in transition.