Over the past several years the oil and gas industry has struggled with diminishing demand, evolving regulations, political uncertainty and even natural disasters. All of these challenges have forced companies to adopt new strategies to sustain profits.

Many, of course, are looking to cut costs in the areas of production and delivery. But innovations in process management and communications are enabling companies to increase their efficiency and even boost their bottom line. Among these innovations two stand out as being the most effective: going paperless and embracing data mobility.

Breaking free of paperwork

As in other large well-established industries such as health care and banking, the shift to go paperless in the oil and gas industry has been slow but steady, while the benefits of embracing digital technology have become increasingly significant.

Companies continuing to rely on processes that require extensive amounts of paperwork are often unable to compete in an industry experiencing rapid changes and shrinking profit margins.

From general operations including human resources management and accounting to industry-specific tasks such as recording drilling measurements or maintaining safety records, the need to digitize files, reports and data has never been greater. In fact, process automation and having a digitally “connected” workforce are now necessary to meet many of the regulatory requirements mandated by law.

Oil and gas companies that are lagging in going digital are now feeling the impact by not being able to maintain efficient and compliant operations. This is causing some companies to move to a centralized platform to align processes and people, foster collaboration and transparency, and ensure greater consistency among divisions. This unified approach simplifies reporting and makes information available anywhere and at any time.

Data mobility

Back in the boom times oil and gas companies didn’t have to really dig into the data and scrutinize the numbers. Companies grew rapidly and purchased different technology systems for each department and function.

However, as the data started rolling in, companies began to hire analysts to research each siloed system and come up with potentially conflicting insights. This left operations with siloed guesswork and made it nearly impossible for operators, engineers and managers to make knowledgeable, tailored and goal-oriented decisions.

Over the last 10 years, companies have spent billions of dollars implementing enterprisewide systems, but these systems don’t speak to each other, and companies aren’t receiving value out of their investments.

Companies need to invest in software that delivers consistent, trustable data and insights across the entire organization, from corporate to the field, and allows them to boost production and optimize capex and opex. A system that integrates and un-siloes data helps on many levels. These include

  • Omnichannel communication so that exploration, drilling, distribution and production divisions can seamlessly and transparently communicate with vendors, sales teams, partners, the corporate office and customers;
  • Streamlining of operations via real-time visibility into activities at the local level and the elimination of guesswork. HSE professionals can cut more than 30 hours per month by managing safety and inspection audits in an electronic format; and 
  • Supply chain efficiency via real-time communication so that suppliers and contractors can be better utilized across work streams and communicate with context.

Thanks to the latest technological advancements, the industry is poised for a second digital age that will slash costs, unleash unparalleled productivity and skyrocket performance—but only if executives can harness the right technologies to support their business strategies.

What’s next

While there is undoubtedly a need to continually improve extraction and production processes, there is also a continual need to rethink operational processes and use new technologies that boost operational efforts.

With the current oil and gas market, companies need to reinvent themselves to improve productivity. Investing in digital technologies is a no-regrets move that boosts production from existing operations and revolutionizes operational frameworks.