Industries in every sector are undergoing a digital transformation in one way or another. Businesses are implementing technology platforms that can eliminate inefficiencies and improve day-to-day operations that cut time, generate revenue and improve working conditions for their employees. This is particularly relevant in the oil and gas industry when it comes to digitizing field operations.
Although technology has the ability to simplify jobs and tasks, executing a digital technology strategy has proven to be a daunting one. There are several challenges that companies face when applying a digital platform to their operating infrastructure. For example, in the oil and gas industry, only a handful of companies consider themselves digitally sound and capable. According to a 2020 digital operations study for energy by strategy& of the PwC network, oil and gas companies have been slow to adopt and adapt to digital applications and operations. Out of the 200-plus companies surveyed, only 7% consider themselves equipped enough to handle a full-on digital transformation. The same survey suggests that 70% only see themselves as being in the early stages of digital maturity.
The oil and gas industry has always been one reluctant to change and one that relies on antiquated thinking and manual process to drive business operations, until recently. Out of necessity, many companies are transitioning to new solutions to replace legacy systems that have plagued the industry for decades. Implementing change within your workforce is a very delicate process, which means these digital transitions and technology shifts must start at the top. To change the mindset of a workforce, top executives need to build trust between themselves and their employees. Workers need to believe that leadership has their best interests in mind.
Committing to a digital transformation is the first step in implementing one, but employees must evolve alongside the company as one cohesive unit for it to be successful. Employees are often accustomed to the “old way” of working and not interested in the adoption of new technology – they like what they know. Often, companies fail to show workers the benefits of new systems and technologies, which can create doubt and resistance that obstructs the adaptation process, resulting in lost time and resources. End-user engagement is critical in the change management process. It’s understood that implementing effective technology platforms can benefit the company, but what often gets lost is how it benefits the worker.
The oil and gas industry can be a brutal environment to work in. Long hours, dangerous working conditions and being away from family for weeks at a time can take its toll on employees. By upgrading field operation management systems, organizations can make their workers’ jobs easier and safer. The faster they can complete their jobs, the faster they can be home with their families. On the flip side, the company saves time and money and increases bottom line. From the top-down, everyone must be on the same page. It’s up to the top-level executives to ensure that everyone in their labor force understands the reasons and the benefits of changing operations. Once everyone is in sync with change management procedures, it leads to fewer errors and a more productive working environment. Put simply, engaging employees builds a rapport that helps them understand and trust the change management process.
With the first roadblock out of the way comes another, teaching workers how to use the platform. The focus should be on onboarding the user with tools and programs to assist them in the digital transition. The faster and easier the user can adapt to the new systems, the quicker the company will see the return on their digital investment.
Several oil companies are struggling to upskill their laborers and adapt to a customer base that is more and more tech-savvy and expects their employers to be as well. To combat this, oil and gas companies can utilize configurative educational content to assist with the software learning curve. There are e-learning solutions available that can teach workers how to navigate through digital platforms by keeping everyone engaged with learning portals and content complete with interactive tests to help train employees. Employees will quickly adapt and understand how to use the software and have a deeper understanding of how it simplifies their daily tasks and enhances their day-to-day work functions.
It’s no secret that, when used correctly, technology can elevate a company to the next level. What is often overlooked is the importance of an effective change management strategy. Employees must understand how changing the way they work will benefit them and their daily lives. Everyone must be on the same page. At that same time, providing them with the right resources to learn and adopt new technology will pay off immensely. Oil and gas companies planning to shift to digital field operations management systems must see change through the eyes of their most valuable asset -- their employees. Change is always difficult, especially in the world of business. Having an airtight change management plan will keep employees onboard and keep the business moving forward.