Carriers say their businesses are moving forward with digitally connecting everything

(WO) — The process of companies in the industry connecting almost everything digitally is advancing inexorably, executive participants said during a panel discussion Tuesday mid-morning at the Schlumberger Digital Forum in Lucerne, Switzerland. Woodside Energy CEO Meg O’Neill, Ecopetrol Group CEO Felipe Bayón and IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna discussed the topic of ‘Connected Everything’.

Overview of digital efforts. Asked how Woodside is approaching greater digital transformation, O’Neill said the recently completed merger (June 1, 2022) with BHP Petroleum is actually helping the effort. “The merger with BHP doubles the size of our business,” O’Neil explained. So that gives us a very significant shift in our geographic footprint, a very significant presence in North America, and a stronger balance sheet. And what it really does for us in the context of connecting for a new future is that it positions us very well to be able to invest in the technologies that we need to develop energy today, as well only in some of the energy sources that will be increasingly needed in the future.

Meg O’Neill, CEO of Woodside Energy

Meanwhile, Colombian state-owned company Ecopetrol has put in place a bold strategy for 2040, when it comes to digital transformation. Accordingly, the moderator asked Bayón of Ecopetrol how the implementation of the digital transformation of his company affects his relationship with customers, suppliers and partners. “As we were developing the strategy, the 2040 strategy, it was important for us in the midst of very trying and difficult times with COVID – with very difficult economic conditions for many people, not only in Colombia, but in the countries where to function – to try to reconnect,” Bayón said. “And we had been part of the conversation in terms of laying the groundwork for recovery, making sure that we were providing people with energy, that we we can be part of that conversation with people. So the strategy basically says that we want to continue to grow in the middle of the energy transition. We want to be very strong on the ESG keys. So it’s about putting technology at the heart of conversation about how we actually see our connections to society, the environment and good governance.And finally, through knowledge, we can change not only our pers onnel, but also the way we connect with our communities. »

IBM’s Krishna was asked about its efforts to convince carriers to take advantage of the power of digital technology and the factors preventing them from fully adopting it. He said it’s rooted in the process of the industry trying to break away from its history and traditional ways of operating. “Listen, we’ve been in a transition out of traditional operations going back to the 1920s,” Krishna said. “This is exactly the ‘transition’ the oil and gas industry is talking about. I think artificial intelligence was first connected through processes. You can take all the data from all these processes across all industries, and the value of what AI unlocks is $16 billion in global productivity this decade. It’s not in the future, this decade. But within that amount, there is $1 billion associated with the oil and gas industry. So the oil and gas industry would like another $1 billion, I’ll call it profit. About half of that is due to sustainability and reducing emissions. I think that’s the opportunity, and that’s what we want to unlock with our partners.

Felipe Bayón, CEO of Ecopetrol Group

The implementation and angle of people. When asked if the digital effort connects across the silos of his business and how important that can be, Woodside’s O’Neill had an emphatic answer. “Oh, absolutely,” she exclaimed. “And I would actually like to build on Arvind’s point about capturing value associated with digital. If you think about it, technology enables things like remote operations, autonomous operations, enhanced recovery. As stewards of natural resources, one of the greatest imperatives for us is to extract as much oil and gas as possible from these reservoirs. Digital is absolutely essential to this, and it runs through the business, as you asked, from geoscience, to engineers, to the production operator on the platform, to the engineers who support plant design. . It is absolutely essential. And, you know, hopefully we can get our share of that billion dollars that Arvind mentioned.

The moderator referred to a speech given earlier in the morning by Saudi Aramco Chairman and CEO Amin Nasser. In this speech, he referred to the internal review of its staff, a company’s employees and the available talent pool. The inference being that companies in the industry can focus on their partners and customers and move internally to digital scrutiny of what they are doing with your own employees. The fact is, digital skills are intrinsic to working in industry today. And that seems to have generated not only short-term help for workers to adapt their skills, but there is also a long-term objective when it comes to talent training and digital investment.

As a result, IBM’s Krishna was asked if there was a disconnect between today’s real-time needs and the digital needs of the future. “My short answer is actually no,” Krishna said. “But, humans don’t like change. It’s just a fact of life. It’s not a question of any of you or any of us. Our own people don’t like change. So I think you have to be aware of that as leaders and understand how you can help your people through the transition. Simply reprimanding them or hoping to hire new skills won’t work; There’s not enough. This is just the very, very quick first sighting.

“The half-life of skills is reduced,” he continued, “and everyone has to realize that. Fifty years ago, 30 years ago, people could stay in the same [portion of their] occupation. Now it’s about six different areas. This means that the average person in their professional career will have seven times the transition. What are we doing as leaders to help improve these conditions in terms of training, health support, etc.? ? That’s a big part of what we need to do. »

Bayón was asked what a company should do to fill the gap, when there is potentially a training void, but workers are looking to the digital future.

“As part of this strategy that we have put in place, the third element is to ensure that we can retrain, retool and requalify people,” replied the CEO of Ecopetrol. “So at least 70% of our people will have to go through there, at the point of Arvind, by 2030. And we’ve identified that we can create value for around $20-30 million from that. I think the biggest thing is giving people the opportunity or the tools to make sure they can have a better work life balance, making sure they can connect to what they make. And it’s interesting to see that people who were fleeing the industry are now coming back. And they say, “It’s because we see that you’re in the lead. We want to be part of this change.

“I think technology is at the heart of it. So in the last year alone we were able to book $350 million in profit from technology and digital. It empowers people. So even if we’re looking inside, it can put us in touch with people on the outside in communities, when we’re not just thinking about emissions, but also things like water management. So there are other things we can do to connect our employees to people from communities.

Arvind Krishna, Chairman and CEO of IBM

Climate, emissions and ESG. Another angle discussed was the relationship between digital transformation and ESG issues. The moderator asked O’Neill from Woodside how important it is to effectively explain and communicate a company’s climate policy to its employees, to propel them forward. “It’s absolutely essential,” O’Neill acknowledged. “We want our employees to be ambassadors for the company, and they need to understand to be able to articulate how the work we do [is solving ESG issues]. And that means providing reliable energy, affordable energy, and low-carbon energy. We produce about 70% gas, which is lower carbon intensity than many alternatives when used in power generation. This is a good thing. But we are also keen to invest in some of the new technologies and energy sources that are even less carbon intensive. And we believe that our investments in oil and gas today will help the world prosper and help fund this transition to these low-carbon energy sources, which are just beginning today. And it will take a little time to evolve.

Meanwhile, when asked about examples of different areas of operations, where things work better and where the industry can present a united front, Krishna replied, “Let’s just recognize that, first of all, we all live in this that the sector produces. And the other sector also says, I think oil and gas is essential for security, industrials, building materials and many other things, not just internal combustion engines. So let’s start with that. I think one area I’ve been very involved in and I’m excited to see progress is cybersecurity. Let’s recognize that cyber will be the problem of this century. And every one of my suppliers that I’ve spoken to in their office about these issues, they’re all worried about having to shut down operations. They (cyber hacks) cause damage, they cause a lot of downtime. And I was delighted to see, I think, 18 companies come together in Davos to see if the oil and gas industry can come together and share cyber best practices.

Ecopetrol’s Bayón was asked what the cybersecurity advocacy priority is for him and his organization. “It is,” Bayon said. “And I once heard from the skeptics, someone say that there are two types of businesses in the world, those that are hacked and those that don’t know they are hacked. That means it’s something that has to be very, very, very relevant. The other thing is that hackers don’t break in. They connect. So back to the question of culture, how do we make sense of it? And I’m with you, Arvind. They are our employees. But I also think that technology can help us.

“I believe this is one of the areas where we need to come together and work together. And that’s a big threat. I mean, we are not managing the infrastructure which is essential for our countries, for our regions and also for national security. So we just have to make sure it’s (cybersecurity measures) still there.

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