By Carlos Soto, Enaxis Consulting
In many ways, the current landscape of IT within oil and gas mirrors the recent past of the banking sector. Rewind to 2007 and big banks were starting to aggressively adopt technologies like mobile computing, social media and high-performance computing (HPC), which is the ability to perform and track countless calculations in a fraction of a second. These adoptions led to service advances for customers and employees.
Video conferencing slashed travel budgets and facilitated expansion into global markets, often via outsourcing, which further drove efficiencies. Mobile computing enabled banks to offer customers flexible banking online, which removed the cost of paper and saved some companies millions. Placing iPads at branches improved customer service by decreasing customer wait times (CWT). HPC, according to some analysts, became a game-changer in derivatives trading and has challenged the capital markets sector to rethink decades-old strategies.
Along with the victories, however, the banking sector also learned some hard lessons; specifically related to a lack of processes, best practices and standards with regard to the implementation and use of new technologies.
The problem stems from the fact that many of these new technologies were introduced into banking organizations in an ad-hoc manner. Managers, eager to reap the rewards from the benefits of a particular technology, pushed for quick proof-of-concepts, often viewing adoption as a foregone conclusion. Rushed adoptions led to rushed implementations, which in turn created redundant silos, as similar technologies and vendors were introduced by different internal groups into an organization. In many cases, these silos replicated throughout the full spectrum of a bank’s organizational structure within three common ways:
• Different technology groups had their own implementation and use of mobile technology; often with programmers building proprietary services to help make the technology interface with existing systems.
• Verticals like HR, finance and operations worked with different technology groups to implement redundant services and technologies into their groups.
• Vendor management became inundated with multiple third-party companies providing duplicate services and tools to different groups within an organization.
Technology permeated the banking infrastructure before the formation of standards, governance and best practices. At the core of these difficulties was the paradoxical, organization decision of how to manage technology. Specifically, how do banks successfully handle the transformational disruption associated with integrating new technology? At this point several banking organizations started to create transformational executives supported by innovation managers that centralized the adoption and implementation of new technologies in an organized fashion. But the damage of having placed the cart in front of the horse had been done—cost inefficiencies, failed projects and aloof technology silos often remained untouched.
What oil and gas can learn from this brief look at banking is that information technology has become a cultural attitude within many organizations. People want to use their own devices at work, social media in service management is a strong capability for frequent corporate travelers, and video conferencing brings people closer together in meetings than a simple bridge line.
Almost a decade ago, implementing technologies to improve their working environment, forced banks to determine what kind role technology would play in their organization. Some banks became cutting-edge providers and builders of forward-thinking IT, while others became passive followers or late adopters of technology. But by determining what type of organization an oil and gas company wants to be, with regard to the introduction, implementation and adoption of technology, they can avoid the repercussions of a poorly planned IT strategy.
IT in oil and gas is at the cusp of experiencing more disruption from high-tech solutions; drones, HPC, big data, and cyber kill chains are just a few examples. How will your organization respond?
This blog post originally appeared on Enaxis Consulting’s website.