THE FUTURE OF OIL & GAS: IT’S A GENERATIONAL THING

Photo Credit: ID 32757659 © Yiu Tung Lee | Dreamstime.com
By: Ben Lamm, CEO of Chaotic Moon Studios and Managing Director of Accenture Interactive

The Future of Oil & Gas: It’s a Generational Thing

To stay alive and thrive in oil and gas, updating archaic software is a smart start to attracting top talent.

For a company in the oil and gas sector, uncertainty and shifting economic conditions have always been hallmarks of the trade. In 2006, no one would have suspected the U.S. to be a major world producer, but the discovery of the Parshall oil field in North Dakota radically shifted the global oil and gas landscape. Yet, for an industry defined by change, most companies have been reluctant to adapt and keep pace with rapidly changing infrastructure technology.

There are plenty of factors that determine revenue, profit and overall success for a company in the oil and gas industry, ranging from gas prices (for the record, the monthly average price for a gallon of gasoline in September was $2.46, which — according to government data — is the lowest it’s been since 2004) to legislation (take the House voting in early October to lift the 40-year-old ban on oil exports). But these factors are, for the most part, out of an individual company’s control. So what’s the best investment a company can make to achieve stability and success in a fluctuating, ever-changing environment?

Despite the industry’s largely unpredictable course, it is undeniable that we’re at a technological crossroads. Despite legislation, gas prices and other inconsistent determining factors, future success is going to be largely dependent on the strategic implementation of technology and a company’s ability to nimbly adapt as we move forward into an age that’s becoming more and more digitally focused. In short, the best investment an oil and gas company can make is cutting-edge software.

Here are a few things oil and gas companies have to keep in mind to survive and thrive as we move toward a future that’s becoming more tech-focused by the second:

A Shifting Workforce 

Millennials. While this word has been used to the point of exhaustion over the last few years, it nonetheless defines a demographic that companies have no choice but to embrace. Millennials now not only define the emerging workforce, but as Time magazine reported in May, they’ve also surpassed Generation X to become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.

The quality of one’s employees determines the future success of the company, and that’s why it’s crucial to hire the best. And there are certain requirements that the best require. For millennials, these requirements are defined by which companies appear to be the most forward-thinking and innovative.

In an age where your smartphone can get a weather reading from halfway around the world in an instant, why are workers on oil rigs keeping and managing critical operational information on the equivalent of Post-it notes?

Talent entering this industry has been raised on new, constantly adapting technologies and high expectations and standards of usability, speed and intuition. It’s this technology-driven, often-demanding demographic that’s going to propel oil and gas forward, simply by offering companies no choice but to get on board or fall behind. In short, cutting-edge software is necessary and alluring to smart, experienced and hungry millennials. And to succeed in the future, these are the people you want and need using that cutting-edge software.

Modern Tools

Software is obviously no longer merely an internal tool used within the company; it’s now a critical element of recruiting, with candidates making employment decisions largely based on the tools they get to use. But it’s not just about luring the best talent with flashy user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. In a field as massive and data-centric as oil and gas, the right software has the power to totally transform businesses big and small.

Designing and developing truly effective software with an intuitive UX spans the entire oil and gas system in terms of implementation and usability, from the planning to extraction to transport phases. And unifying this software and making it more intelligent will make alerts, tasks and problems easier to access and diagnose. Also, updating software will enable oil and gas companies to compare and analyze new holistic data that was previously inaccessible, allowing them to ingest, compare and analyze sets of data more accurately, effectively and efficiently than ever before. This leads to better-informed operational decisions, which have better results.

The real question is, in an age where your smartphone can get a weather reading from halfway around the world in an instant, why are workers on oil rigs keeping and managing critical operational information on the equivalent of Post-it notes? Oil and gas is operating with infrastructure that is effectively, technologically speaking, light years behind. In any industry, the right software is key. In oil and gas, it’s imperative.

The Right Partner

After a company determines they’re going to make the competitive decision and take their technology from archaic to state-of-the-art, it’s critical to go all-in and do it right. Software isn’t a cookie-cutter business; what works for one company likely won’t work for another, and hiring a random development shop to mimic the best option on the market is a recipe for disaster.

When it comes to creating custom software, research and execution are equally important. The best practice is to choose a team of experts with proven experience in oil and gas to dive in and diagnose goals, strengths and weaknesses — a team of experts powered with the skills and experience to determine the best plan. And then, execute it. You need a team of experts that handles strategy, design and development from day one.

This is the best way to guarantee a final product boasting impeccable performance and an incredible, intuitive user experience. It also ensures that as technology progresses, the software — along with the company — can progress as well.

Chaotic Moon Studios is a creative technology studio transforming business for the world’s biggest brands by designing, developing and delivering digital experiences of consequence. For more information, visit www.chaoticmoon.com.

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