Despite common misconceptions, the oil and gas industry is no stranger to big data, technology and digital innovation. From using technology that helps us better understand a reservoir’s resource and production potential to advances that improve on-site health and safety while boosting operational efficiencies in oil fields globally, the industry has been at the forefront of digital innovation since the 1980s.
The most prominent of these technological changes often happen in business models among equipment vendors. This is because equipment manufacturers see ways to use machine-learning technologies to maintain equipment, ultimately helping customers get the maximum value and efficiency from their infrastructures.
While this is not a new phenomenon, other areas of the oil and gas industry are starting to notice the ease with which they can do business when technology is at the forefront—and not an add-on—of their organizations.
Almost all processes and touchpoints for oil and gas companies involve some kind of technology. While this increases efficiencies, it can be hard to get your entire workforce (including your leadership team) on board and trained for technological innovation.
Overcoming Obstacles to Embrace New Tech
In a perfect world, your entire team would be using innovative technologies to improve how it works. But that can be difficult, especially with an aging workforce—and more than 25% of the oil and gas workforce is 55 or older.
Some leaders in the oil and gas industry are reluctant to embrace new technologies, which makes their workforce similarly resistant. Many companies rely on antiquated systems that were innovative years ago, but they haven’t kept up with technological changes.
These older systems can lead to problems for your business. They often lag behind their modern counterparts in performance forecasting, production forecasting across thousands of wells and enhanced oil recovery opportunities. What’s more, dated oilfield technology directly influences analytics across unconventional assets, resulting in a loss of resources and revenue.
When businesses and their workforces fail to adopt new tech, essential data can go missing. New technology depends on proper data entry, and the nature of the product will always require some human intervention to ensure equipment is operating properly.
Today, millions of employees are adjusting to remote work because of the coronavirus pandemic. While this will ensure growing momentum toward embracing new tech, the need for proper data entry will only increase. Because of this reality, adapting to new technology with resources such as cross-checks and automated calculations/analysis and training is imperative.
Accepting Innovation with Open Arms
When adopting new technology, you want to make sure it works to your advantage. That way, your team will be more open to embracing it for day-to-day operations. Here are some things to look for in new tech that will allow for simpler incorporation into your existing processes—and your workforce:
1. Use and Adaptability
You want your workforce to use these new technologies every day, so they shouldn’t be cumbersome or confusing. Look for products that have user-friendly interfaces, meaning an employee could look at it with no explanation or context yet still understand the basics. If not, your employees will become frustrated and forgo using the new tech.
You also want to make sure any tech you choose can easily grow and change with your business. This will make it even easier for employees to use the technology regardless of what’s happening with your company.
If new technologies don’t fit easily into your current systems and processes, they may not be your best options. When you pick tech that can seamlessly integrate, however, you make it that much easier for employees to embrace. Fortunately, software code is often standardized, which allows systems to interact without the need for a bespoke design.
Find technologies that will allow you to link everything in one easy-to-use space. This not only requires less time and effort on the part of your employees, but it also allows for more seamless data collection and distribution.
3. AI and Automation
New technology is meant to save time, and the best way to do that is with AI and automation. In areas where employees operate heavy machinery, for instance, automation is especially beneficial as it can improve safety as well as the time spent on a particular project.
AI and automation can also help analyze large pools of data accurately and efficiently. These technologies significantly reduce the margin of error while freeing up time for your employees to work on more ambitious projects.
Of course, this new technology will be for nothing if you don’t update your team through ongoing communication and training. This can include lunch-and-learn sessions, programs with subject matter experts and more. The more employees can feel involved in the adoption and development of new tech, the more likely they’ll be to embrace the tech—and the better your business will be.
Vince Dawkins, president and CEO of Enertia Software, has worked with industry-leading organizations, and he has been integral in developing the Enertia application into a resource used by over 150 leaders in the upstream oil and gas industry.
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