Contrary to the expectations of many, the pandemic and its various lockdowns have accelerated, rather than arrested, long-term trends in the oil and energy industry, such as energy transition and digital transformation.
Energy transition describes the planned conversion in the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon before 2050. This strategy is based on the key requirement to reduce energy-related CO₂ emissions to limit climate change. Energy transition will be enabled by a combination of information technology, smart technology, policy frameworks and market instruments.
While global energy transition is well underway, there is no room for complacency and additional action is urgently required by all of us. Oil and energy companies are under particular pressure in this respect as renewable energy and other related efficiency measures can potentially achieve 90% of the world’s required carbon reductions.
Not surprisingly there’s a price to pay for this fundamental change in approach. Energy transition places the burden of new, challenging capex projects, such as the building of assets like wind farms, solar farms and wave power, onto the shoulders of energy companies.
Adding to the challenge, these projects are often undertaken in undeveloped environments with difficult terrain and with lots of different suppliers and partners involved, making logistics and administration particularly tricky.
In the move towards renewables, technology undoubtedly has a significant role to play. It is enabling remote operations (although that’s true of every industry, right now) and driving human-machine collaboration.
Digitalisation is expected to play an ever-increasing role in supporting energy transition strategies. Beyond that, it will help to set short-term emissions targets through standardised reporting and the capability to track accountability.
One of the keys to success with energy transition projects is collaboration and the sharing of data. Fast and reliable reporting into the business from field teams, who will need to establish remote work environments, is also an important factor.
One side benefit of enhanced collaboration across remote locations is that it will reduce the need for physical travel. The fact that everything is hosted in the cloud rather than with an on-premise data centre will further reduce emissions for the business.
The ideal way forward is with collaboration between all the leading players in the industry, but that level of cooperation is probably unrealistic at the moment.
A more likely scenario for short term energy transition is full internal collaboration on both capex and opex projects. This will happen as organisations set up new businesses in the renewables space to capture market share and secure key locations for the construction of wind, wave and solar production assets.
This will require collaboration beyond internal departments to upstream organisations, system integrators and solution providers, all with their own information and data requirements.
Digital collaboration has been pinpointed by Accenture and the World Economic Forum as vital in driving successful energy transition strategies. But a high level of collaboration is only possible, of course, with a common IT architecture.
Microsoft leads the way in end-user IT within the oil and energy industries. The tech giant has published extensively on their reference architecture for oil and gas technology, and this has informed the suite of tools and applications they now provide for the industry. Some key features and principles worth highlighting include:
It’s worth noting that many organisations in the sector have capability covered by their existing Microsoft licences that are not currently being used. This includes two tools that could prove pivotal with successful energy transition projects: Teams and the Power Platform.
Our view is that Teams must be the most under-utilised tool in the applications portfolio of most organisations.
The platform has enjoyed a meteoric rise ever since the pandemic dictated that we all needed to work from home. However, even though many of us have been using Teams for video conferencing and messaging, relatively few organisations have taken full advantage of the platform and turned it into a truly unified communication and collaboration tool.
The obvious way to extend Teams communication is by migrating legacy PBX and other messaging tools such as pagers or existing chat services into Teams.
The deployment of a direct routing platform enables either the full migration of voice services and contact centre operation or if it happens to be more appropriate, the integration of these services to provide an extended period to generate a return on your investment without compromising functionality in the short-term.
Whichever route works out better for your businesses, there’s no doubt that when Teams is used as a central hub for all work, it offers so much more potential than when it’s used only for communication.
Indeed, Microsoft Teams can be the central window through which any oil or energy organisation communicates and collaborates, both internally and with those outside the business.
Like the Power Platform, it can help surface information from other systems, report on it, and share it. By digitising the workflow, it can help speed up the completion of your energy transition projects.
The Power Platform is another example of Microsoft introducing new solutions that give customers a competitive edge in the marketplace. It is a collection of services that enables your business to be more insightful, collaborative and efficient.
The Power Platform can, and indeed should play a central role in increasing operational efficiency. This can be achieved through the deployment of business process automation, applications, integrated reporting and even chatbots that can be used internally within Teams or as a customer-facing service.
Like with any set of tools, knowing what to build and what you hope to achieve with the finished product is key to realising the optimum gains.
When combined with Teams, the Power Platform can solve a myriad of operational challenges with bespoke solutions tailored to the needs of individual oil and energy organisations. Be it an approval app for faster management decision making on oil rigs, an app for energy research team collaboration or simply an automated workflow, the possibilities are endless.
This includes the ability to enhance asset performance and efficiency by leveraging IoT to put critical data into the hands of your operators. It can also help optimise digital operations by connecting your people, suppliers, data, devices and processes to improve communication, digitise workflows, and increase productivity.
Working with an expert partner can help you realise these gains faster by unlocking the experience of development over multiple projects. Better still, enlisting the support of an experienced Microsoft Gold Partner like Resonate will help you realise the benefits of wider Teams and Power Platform benefits faster.
We like to think we have the most extensive oil and gas experience in the Microsoft UC space, and we have the added appeal of being able to offer a highly innovative Power Platform practice.
A Top 5 Global energy giant recently needed to reduce infrastructure complexity and cost while also providing tools to enable flexible working, encourage collaboration and exploit innovation.
Resonate supported them with an adoption-led approach. With change management and high user engagement at the forefront of our thinking, we delivered a refined release strategy, measuring and monitoring business goals during migration to ensure a consistent and robust platform that could be repeated companywide.
If you’d like more information on anything we’ve covered today, you can download our Power Platform eBook written specifically for IT professionals and operations leads in the oil and energy industry here.
Or, you could book a discovery call with a member of our Oil and Energy Team to find out what we could do for your organisation.