Overcoming the barriers to effective digitalisation to feed business intelligence

Emily Scott's picture
Emily Scott, Marketing Manager, TruQC
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Digitalisation can elevate your business by providing opportunities for efficiencies and increased revenue. According to the World Economic Forum, digitalisation has the potential to create around $1 trillion of value for oil and gas firms over the next 10 years, creating benefits worth about $640 billion for wider society. However, digitalisation is not as simple as changing from analogue to digital forms – it requires leveraging digital technologies to transform processes across your entire business, spanning departments, sites and workflows. Businesses must overcome common barriers to digitalisation to ensure operations are not disrupted and return on investment is realised. Most companies find it difficult to identify a place to start, with multiple stories of failed attempts.

Typical digitalisation attempts involve pieced-together tools, redundant manual data entry or expensive custom developed software applications. No matter the approach, these attempts consistently fail to address three common barriers to successful digitalisation: field adoption, data standardisation, and uniqueness by site or application. This dooms a digitalisation effort from the start as operations are disrupted and there is no clear path to return on investment (ROI). Ultimately the solution is abandoned, or at best used by one or two departments, and the primary goal of collecting good data is never reached. Luckily, these barriers can be overcome with a new approach to digitalisation which not only delivers the data corporate is looking for but also brings immediate operational efficiency.

A common misconception is that field users are resistant to new technology, but in reality, they have been jaded by previous initiatives that forced significant changes to their daily activities.  Driven by corporate, technology had been introduced without an appreciation of how users are actually collecting data in the field and getting the work done. Field users worry that implementing new technologies will require extra effort on their part for non-value added steps that included redundant data entry, lengthy training, and more logins. These employees have to change the way they do their jobs – disrupting processes and workflows – and ultimately stopping digitalisation before it even begins. 

Any new solution must make available clean, standardised data regardless of a company’s ultimate digitalisation goals. While it starts with data collection, that data must move through an organisation’s existing workflows to ensure the work still gets done – and hopefully in a more efficient manner. Digitised reporting (moving from paper to electronic) is the first step, but achieving full process digitalisation must tackle additional challenges such as redundant data entry, document management, and handling of third-party participation. As a business continues to evolve, digitalisation software needs to be agile enough to adapt quickly. Simple form builders are not capable of incorporating complex business processes and workflows and custom development can take months or years, only to be obsolete when finally launched. Any successful digitalisation solution must be able to adapt quickly to deliver on the promise of useable data as needs change.

Any digitalisation solution must conform to existing business processes – not the other way around. This means uniqueness must be respected and rapidly accounted for as a solution is proliferated.  Companies are global with sites spanning cities, states, countries and continents. One site may be digitalised, but if data is gathered in a different way, it cannot be effectively analysed, even if it is the same system. Additionally, each facility has unique assets, processes and workflows. Special activities, such as turnarounds, introduce even more complexity with third-party inspectors and contractors coming on-site for brief periods of time. A successful digitalisation platform has to not only be configured for each unique site but also be open enough to integrate with the varying back office and business intelligence platforms used across the organisation.

The solution to overcoming these barriers and ensure effective digitalisation is an agile, easily adaptable software framework that is configurable by location, role, task or function to satisfy individual data and workflow needs, without reinventing processes. Getting clean data first is paramount. Once this is established, the data can then be used anywhere by anyone at the company. The focus must be on an easy-to-use, intuitive interface configured for a field user’s data collection needs. It will integrate seamlessly into your business without changing the way data is collected or distributed. Additionally, APIs and integrations must feed clean, standardised data into existing hardware and software solutions within the company for data analysis. When built correctly, the data both the field and corporate need is gathered without disrupting the normal work process.

Successful digitalisation is proven to provide immediate payback in hard costs in the oil and gas industry while delivering Business Intelligence (BI) benefits many times the hard cost savings. This includes increased value-added work, streamlined workflow and reduction in risk. Proven solutions implemented at a major oil and gas company have shown 83% reduction in inspection preparation time, 50% reduction in inspection time and 33% reduction globally for overall inspection prep, execution, report creating and risk score assignment at downstream facilities. The estimated hard dollar savings per downstream facility being $1.5 to $2.3 million. Additionally, digitalisation can be applied across any process with field activity or a complex workflow, including turnaround, maintenance, safety, or flange and valve, to ensure easy implementation, BI-ready data and immediate ROI. 

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