UtilitiesOil & Gas

Energy industry 2021 predictions

Disruption will drive companies to improve operational efficiency

2020 sent shock waves across oil and gas, utilities and mining organizations, creating dramatic shifts in supply and demand, revenue streams and productivity. As these companies head into 2021 they continue to face the fallout from disparate – yet equally challenging – business disruptors.  

In the Oil and Gas sector, companies are dealing with the consequences of reduced demand, which has resulted in less headcount and more merger and acquisition activity. Mining companies, meanwhile, are having the opposite experience – massive growth in demand and prices. Yet they are challenged to keep up with this growth while maintaining a safe operating environment. And for utilities, accommodating a remote workforce and creating ever-richer digital experiences for customers are musts. 

How will the Energy industry deal with these challenges in 2021 and beyond? By focusing on information management to make optimal use of data. It’s the common denominator that will propel the Energy industry to work smarter, more efficiently and more profitably.  

Here’s how better information management could drive change in 2021. 

Tackling unconnected data  

The pandemic highlighted challenges related to poor data quality and ineffective information strategies within organizations. Unconnected data repositories often lead to operational inefficiencies, requiring time and manpower to maintain – two resources stretched thin during pandemic operations.  

In a recent OpenText™ survey of energy companies, 40 percent reported that data is not connected across the enterprise, and a further 35 percent of organizations maintain data in silos and legacy systems.  

Heading into 2021, organizations should strive for better control over work processes, information and risk, looking to integrate data from multiple systems and sources. Oil & Gas companies should focus on bridging content silos and consolidating operational systems to get the desired value from mergers, acquisitions and divestitures and produce economies of scale.  

Empowering the remote worker  

Pandemic disruptions led to a fast transition from on-site to remote working. In addition, staff reductions are taking place in oil and gas companies due to reduced demand. As demand starts to increase through 2021 there will be a renewed reliance on third-party contractors who need temporary access to corporate content.  

While the shift to remote and contract workers has accelerated the need for data sharing, many organizations have accessibility, visibility and security challenges when it comes to asset-related content. To fully enable remote workflows, organizations should make asset management more automated, digital and intelligent.   

Accessing the most up-to-date asset information will improve worker confidence in data, leverage maintenance data to boost visibility and reporting and facilitate better collaboration and handoffs across teams. 

Dialing up Decision Support to improve productivity  

Gaining operational efficiency and reducing costs are perennial goals for just about every company but are especially important as the Energy industry adjusts to the “new normal.” Improved decision support, driven by integrating and managing data and content systems and leaning on analytics to make effective decisions is key to achieving these goals. 

But before companies can integrate and manage data, they must shrink the backlog of critical documentation yet to be digitized. The OpenText survey of energy companies showed a slow transition to digital, with respondents citing no digitization of inspection documents, work orders and piping and instrument diagrams; 35 percent reporting digitization for standard operating procedures; 36 percent for operator logs and 48 percent for worker assignments. 

Organizations will first look to bridge the digitization gap in 2021, and then try to better control operational processes and information. For work orders, as an example, when asset information is digitized and integrated into a single source, organizations can collect IoT data on an asset, perform analysis to optimize require work orders and schedule work orders to minimize downtime.  

Optimizing supply chains 

The pandemic has created intense pressure across all Energy supply chains. Historically, supply chain management has not been a high priority for these industries, but COVID-19 has impacted supply chains in unforeseen ways. For 2021, creating more resilient supply chains and ensuring that production and maintenance won’t be affected during turbulent times is essential. 

How? The rise of automation in Energy supply chains, which rely heavily on maintaining and servicing physical assets, has the transformative potential to reduce system downtime and predict failures before they happen. Digital transformation of supply chains can deliver the visibility required to improve economic performance, environmental compliance and ethical practices.  

Improving digital experiences 

For utility companies, the need to deliver superior digital customer experiences has been magnified in 2020, thanks to new technology, increased connectivity and the pandemic-driven shift to online interactions. Customers expect their experiences with companies to be personalized and seamless. 

As utility companies respond they must ensure they’re delivering the right information through the right channel at the right time. Digital platforms that help provide exceptional digital experiences throughout the customer journey will become indispensable.   

Learn more about how OpenText™ Oil & GasMetals & Mining and Utilities solutions can help companies move forward in 2021. 

Martin Richards

Martin Richards is a Senior Director for Energy Industry Solutions at OpenText. For over twenty years, he has worked with ECM technology, delivering professional services and solutions for the energy and engineering industry.

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