Showing posts with label cost cuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cost cuts. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2015

Streamlining ‘crude’ corporations in tough times

In tougher times, operational efficiencies - often brought about by digital streamlining - do matter and the oil and gas business is most certainly going through a rough patch. Yet, despite living in an increasingly digital world, most in the business view IT through a prism of functionality rather than one of enablement and efficiencies. 

Afterall, when you think of the energy business in general and big oil in particular, it is all about physical assets, drilling and generating not servers and computers. Sometimes, a change of circumstances provides the necessary jolt and that circumstance has been the oil price decline

As every oil and gas and oilfield services company, large or small, listed or independent is scrambling around to save costs; suddenly many are meaningfully warming up to the premise of IT services management [or ITSM] - a concept that has been around for a while, but has not tickled the fancy of big oil to the same extent as big banking or big pharma.

With IT driven processes streamlining and merging functions ranging from human resource management to data management, organising emergency response to a centralised incident logging platform - the idea is has savings at its core. The Oilholic went exploring its potential at the recently concluded Knowledge 15 Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada; an event put together by ServiceNow (NYSE:NOW), one of the market leaders in the sphere. 

 

The company has been notching up the concept with each passing year. From giving the corporate world its Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering to Software as a service (SaaS), to IT and infrastructure as service, ServiceNow simply defines what it brings to the solutions table these days as “Everything as a Service”.

Banners proudly proclaiming the strategy were all around the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre; venue of the event (see photo above). Everything is indeed in play - name a process optimisation slant, and a solution could be conjured up, as ServiceNow CEO Frank Slootman told this blogger in an exclusive Forbes interview.

And while the oil and gas sector remains behind the curve, attitudes are changing according to Slootman. Most in big oil are keenly observing how alternative energy and utilities companies are adopting ITSM to improve procedures and save costs, as the Oilholic noted in another Forbes article

Furthermore, KPMG’s IT advisory partner Phil Crozier opines that a wave of mergers and acquisitions within the sector could further the drive. “Hypothetically speaking, let’s look at Shell’s bid for BG Group. The person who is in-charge of IT operations in that sort of a setting does not get told how to bring two organisations together, merely a percentage of some sorts – say 20% – to take off the cost base.

“Now, the only way you can efficiently achieve those sorts of savings would be via process efficiencies and simplification in the approach taken by the two firms. That’s where digital process optimisation comes in.”

That drive is gathering momentum. The Oilholic found several energy sector executives around the convention floor eagerly exploring ITSM avenues. ServiceNow already counts the likes of Valero, Statoil, GDF Suez, GE Energy and several others among its growing client portfolio in the sector.

However, there is still a long way to go before ServiceNow or its bitter rival BMC can put the sector at par with ITSM adoption at big pharma, big finance or big tech. Anecdotal evidence suggests 2015-16 could see many big oil sceptics recognise the potential, even if under financial duress.

Of course, for the moment, you’ll just have to take the Oilholic’s word for it. One found it very difficult to get sector executives to talk about their potential plans on record. The topic is a sensitive one and outsourcing – which forms a component of all this – has been a political hot potato for better parts of a decade.

Here at Knowledge 15, some delegates even claimed to have reduced their headline back-office costs by as much as 50% over a period of 5 to 8 years. The potential for savings and efficiencies is almost, always accompanied by a reduction in headcount. As for the oil and gas sector, forget the back office - currently its shedding employees back, front and centre.

While it’s hard to be dispassionate about job losses, this is about something deeper. To quote one energy sector executive: “A dollar saved elsewhere in the organisation via effective ITSM solutions deployment for procedural matters, could be spent in upstream operations which is what every oil and gas exploration company is really about.”

IT driven streamlining seems to be finally bringing about that belated realisation for some. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo: ServiceNow’s ‘Everything as a service’ banner at Knowledge 15, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA © Gaurav Sharma, April 2015.

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For comments or for professional queries, please email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

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