Adoption of Real-time Collaboration Tools Continues to Grow Among Oil & Gas Professionals

Oil and gas companies are driving adoption of social media tools within their work forces, according to Microsoft and Accenture survey

Houston — January 25, 2011 — Oil and gas professionals are collaborating more than they did one year ago and are adopting the use of social media tools into their daily work, according to a recent survey from Microsoft Corp. and Accenture.

The survey, released at the recent Microsoft Global Energy Forum 2011 in Houston, covered 205 professionals within international, national and independent oil- and gas-related companies and found that nearly three-fourths (74 percent) are using social media tools in the Cloud for business collaboration, a significant increase over last year's survey responses (62 percent).

Public instant-messaging tools are used the most for business collaboration (38 percent, an 11 percent increase over last year), followed by internal company social networks (33 percent, a 17 percent increase over last year).

Overall, professionals are working together more than ever, with 34 percent reporting that they are collaborating more this year than in the previous year. Microsoft and Accenture believe this trend will continue to grow in coming years, primarily because of the aging oil and gas industry workforce that must prepare its younger generation to take on leadership roles.

Almost a third of respondents (31 percent) said that improved technology-driven access to information could lessen the business impact resulting from the scarcity of skills and talent stemming from the aging work force.

Impact of Global Operations

In addition, the global nature of the oil and gas industry is driving the demand for the ability to collaborate from anywhere, at any time, using any device for real-time information and knowledge sharing. However, this ability is often hindered by what survey respondents identified as the biggest barriers for collaboration: broken workflows that prevent information flow (47 percent) and no unified solution for knowledge sharing (45 percent).

To address these collaboration barriers, respondents identified that the following technology enhancements are needed to further a company's success: improved timing to streamline decision-making (52 percent), improved interaction capability through any device (42 percent), and improved computing power for data analysis and computer simulation (35 percent).

"As oil and gas industry professionals become increasingly spread out around the world, companies will be required to provide new, innovative ways to collaborate remotely and in a unified and security-enhanced mode," said Craig Hodges (LinkedIn), general manager of U.S. Manufacturing and Resources at Microsoft. "The Cloud can address this need with flexibility, agility and cost efficiency by enabling access to increased computing power for the accelerated implementation and adoption of collaboration technologies that enable real-time information and knowledge sharing among colleagues, partners and customers regardless of geographical location."

"Diversification, developments in oil and gas technology, talent, and regulatory policies are just a few factors demanding oil and gas companies to make information available to their work forces and partners in a timely and efficient manner," said Brian Miller (LinkedIn), senior executive in the energy industry group at Accenture.

Miller said that the survey results show the industry's recognition of the strategic benefits in utilizing IT solutions such as Cloud computing, enabling easier accessibility to data and knowledge sharing within a security-enhanced environment. "Companies need to accelerate the implementation of these solutions to help them innovate, operate more successfully in dynamic environments, and increase their productivity and business performance," he concluded.

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