As we begin the new year, we must reflect on the old. In August of 2020, the oil and gas industry hit the bottom of the barrel regarding production and rig counts. Over a year later, U.S. oil and gas rig counts rose from six to 635, spurring a rise in production, worker count and, most importantly, the need for continued digital transformation in the form of field service technology. Oil and gas businesses should feel confident that investing in digital transformation will see return on investment (ROI), continued cash flow and the elimination of inefficiencies.
The first step to digital transformation is investing in the tools and solutions needed to support companies and workers in the field. Field service technology solutions help process tickets and forms more efficiently and seamlessly, dodging bottlenecks in the quote-to-cash process. Once collected, the data is used to create a proactive workflow that allows for routine preventative and predictive maintenance, increased equipment reliability and efficient regulatory compliance. On top of that, by digitizing and automating the billing process, human error and billing delays caused by lost revenue errors and incorrect pricing are removed from the equation. Adopting digital also allows for accurate data collection, giving oil and gas companies visibility into current and historical data, which is sure to increase efficiency and profitability. This actionable data provides companies with the insight they need to grow and thrive.
Participating in digital transformation also enables maintenance managers to monitor equipment conditions more efficiently and verify user qualifications, thereby reducing safety risks while protecting assets and the operators utilizing them. With equipment records digitally transformed into a visual, user-friendly format, quality assurance managers and field service teams can use the data to ensure worksite safety conditions meet safety and regulatory compliance standards.
The future is digital, although the oil and gas industry has a reputation of reluctance when it comes to change. Until recently, it has relied on antiquated thinking and manual processes to drive business operations. Out of necessity, many companies are transitioning to new solutions to replace legacy systems and stay ahead of quickly growing demand coming out of the pandemic slump. Implementing change within your workforce is a very delicate process, which means these digital transitions and technology shifts must start at the top. To change the mindset of a workforce, top executives need to build trust between themselves and their employees and have complete knowledge of digital capabilities.
From the top down, everyone must be on the same page. It’s up to the top-level executives to ensure that everyone in their labor force understands the reasons and the benefits of changing operations. Once everyone is in sync with change management procedures, it leads to fewer errors and a more productive working environment. Engaging employees builds a rapport that helps them understand and trust the change management process.
Teaching workers how to use the platform is the next step in full digital integration. The focus should be onboarding the user with tools and programs to assist them in the digital transition. The faster and easier the user can adapt to the new systems, the quicker the company will see the return on its digital investment.
Several oil companies are struggling to upskill their laborers and adapt to a customer base that is more and more tech-savvy. To combat this, oil and gas companies can utilize configurative educational content to assist with the software learning curve. E-learning solutions, complete with interactive tests that help train employees, are available to teach workers how to navigate digital platforms. Employees will adapt quickly and understand how to use the software and have a deeper understanding of how it simplifies their daily tasks and enhances their day-to-day work functions.
Digital transformation in the oil and gas industry shows no signs of slowing down in 2022 and, when implemented correctly, technology will continue elevating energy companies to the next level. What is often overlooked is the importance of an effective change management strategy. Employees must understand how changing the way they work will benefit them and their daily lives. Everyone must be on the same page.
Simultaneously, providing them with the right resources to learn and adopt new technology will pay off immensely. Oil and gas companies planning to go digital by adopting field service technology must be sure to see change through the eyes of their most valuable asset, their employees. Change is always tricky, especially in the world of business. Undergoing a digital transformation alongside an airtight change management strategy will allow oil and gas companies to grow with their industry and keep employees on board.
Travis Parigi is the founder and executive vice president of LiquidFrameworks, a ServiceMax company. He focuses on growing its software platform and evangelizing its benefits to customers. He plays an active role in technology, architecture and overall product vision. Prior to LiquidFrameworks, Parigi was a founding member and served as a senior engagement manager for Emerging, Inc., an e-business professional services firm funded by Austin Ventures and Benchmark Capital with offices across the U.S.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.