The Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) bills itself as “the world’s most important oil and gas event,” and after spending a week immersed in it, I have to say that’s not an exaggeration.
Every year, ADIPEC draws key international and national oil companies from around the world, and this year’s event brought in more than 145,000 attendees from over 2,200 companies across 67 countries. This is where leaders make key decisions on the future of the industry, meet with key stakeholders and partners, and assess major challenges and opportunities.
Throughout the conference, I saw and heard three themes that were consistently presented as the drivers of future success: insight, collaboration and knowledge. All three were front of mind in Abu Dhabi, as executives from around the world explored how the industry can adapt to a new reality through a new mindset and new advanced technologies to prepare for the future economy.
Across the energy industry, insight is seen as essential to enabling higher levels of safety and reliability — and there’s a growing understanding of how technology that generates deep insights can make an impact on sustainability as well.
Achieving gains in safety and sustainability while also improving reliability (and profitability) will require new capabilities. Advanced technologies can collect, condition and analyze data from across the entire enterprise, providing a holistic view of the operation.
With this technology in place, engineers in the plant will have access to a stream of real-time insights. Companies can then leverage visualization and workflow solutions that provide these engineers with actionable information to drive better decision-making and foster collaboration.
These are the type of insights that companies will need to rely on as they strive to achieve the agility that enables them to stay competitive and explore new business models. They will only be available from the next generation of “smart” technology.
As I heard one ADIPEC attendee say about digital transformation, “If you want to survive, you have to embrace this.”
The consensus among industry executives at ADIPEC was that partnerships must be built on both courage and trust. Importantly, this extends to all partnerships — between businesses and between functions within an organization.
Businesses in this industry increasingly face global demand disruptions that they must react to with agility. Top executives are tasked with ensuring that the vast amounts of data their companies generate every day is analyzed to understand how to better react to these challenges, including breaking down silos to improve collaboration. As I heard one executive say, “We have too much data, but less information. That has to change.”
Consider companies that are executing on massive new capital projects that involve people around the world working around the clock. The move to digital enables seamless, ongoing collaboration, with engineering data stored, managed and accessed from multiple project databases — on premise or in the cloud. The data can be made available to feed other systems or inform decisions via customizable dashboards accessible to all.
To make it possible, executives responsible for digitalization initiatives in the industry are looking to technology providers that offer broader solution coverage and integrate seamlessly with third parties to create digital data streams and workflows. This type of integration will dramatically lower costs, foster collaboration and speed up projects.
Over the next decade, it will be critical for leaders to break down silos across the value chain to accelerate the velocity of their business growth.
A major issue that all energy companies are facing is a loss of experience, with so many of the industry’s older workers retiring and taking their decades of accumulated knowledge with them. Leading organizations are already taking steps to support the next generation of workers, who will be the key to leading their companies into the future.
This is why automation of knowledge becomes a critical enabler for the new workforce, who won’t have the luxury of years to gain experience. In the energy industry, artificial intelligence (AI) will function primarily as a “supercharged insights advisor,” analyzing data and extracting key patterns to provide operational intelligence and automated workflows. AI enables the critical transfer of knowledge throughout the plant or site, supporting better decision-making for all users.
This ability to capture and transfer knowledge is critical, because people are not going to be replaced by AI. In the smart enterprise of tomorrow, the skillsets of people will be augmented with the latest advances in technology — and the organization will still need people to innovate, implement and sustain these new technologies.
This view was shared by those gathered at ADIPEC, and it was clear many of them were exploring how technology can help them maintain and extend their competitive advantage. I enjoyed being able to tell them that many of these solutions are ready to be implemented at scale today.
Companies that want to be at the front of the pack need to start their digital journey now — because the leaders of tomorrow are already charting their course.
If you’d like to learn more about the transformative power of digital solutions, please read my recent executive brief Next-Generation Operational Technologies Enable the Smart Enterprise in a Changing World.