It's Time to Future-Proof Your Energy Operations Business

May 17, 2023

Written By

It’s hard to approach any strategy planning session without mentioning COVID-19, the black swan that redefined force majeure, upended budgets, marginalized existing investments, and turned daily operations upside down.

So, where do we go from here? Most importantly, how should we approach resiliency?

The global pandemic was an eye-opener. Transformation plans many of us kept tucked underneath a stack of invoices became trump cards we tried anxiously to play.

If only we had more time.

So, before the next crisis strikes, let’s talk about digital transformation as a way to future proof your business and help it navigate these ever-changing waters.


Maintaining Velocity and Agility Amid the Chaos

No one reading this post would have predicted in 2020 that 98% of companies would soon employ legions of remote workers.

To be fair, the remote work explosion wasn’t entirely unpredicted. The gig economy, and various flavors of hybrid and work-from-home employment, had been steadily growing in popularity in recent years.

The COVID-19 pandemic poured accelerant on the fire.

Suddenly, everyone—regardless of preparedness, tech maturity, or familiarity—had to enable remote work. Not out of value, but out of necessity.

There are plenty of silver (or even gold) linings to this chaotic rush to remote.

A Pew survey found that 83% of employers believe their remote work implementation has been successful, and over half believe that remote work has made employees more productive than traditional work structures.

Of course, it has also brought challenges.

Employees who traditionally worked in quiet office spaces are interrupted by children and neighborhood noises. In the same survey, over half of remote working employees reported being interrupted by noise 5 times or more per day.

By far the biggest challenge has been caused by technology. No one was fully prepared for what transpired.

How to obtain supplies, maintain reliability, balance gas and pipeline systems, or process invoices?

What should our strategy be for ensuring regulatory compliance—which was already increasing rapidly in scope and scale—while simultaneously managing assets and inventory from 3rd party suppliers?

It’s tough, especially with energy companies and utilities consistently ranking below other industries in terms of digital transformation.

To maintain velocity and competitive agility during a period of intense change, it’s important to rethink all aspects of your business, technology, processes, and value.


Beyond the “New Normal”

To illustrate the shift that has taken place, let’s examine traditional energy company processes and technologies that no longer make sense.

This includes things like:

  • Printing reports
  • Spreadsheets
  • Client-server apps
  • Using different apps to manage each jurisdiction or state rules
  • Using multiple apps across business sections (for example: forecasting and supply, gathering and transportation, customer choice and distribution, etc.)
  • Local installs and a single data center

These aren’t typical mid-horizon changes to tech that get rumbled about around the water cooler. These are business activities that will cripple your productivity and competitiveness if you fail to change.

The energy sector has been through plenty of shocks, but this one is different.

It comes at a time of convergence between industry-agnostic changes—remote work, digital transformation, Gen Z replacing Boomers—and gas-specific frictions like regulatory escalating and 30-year low prices.

The combination is calling into question everything we thought we knew about running a gas company.

McKinsey estimates that, without significant (read: fundamental) changes, “it will be difficult [for energy companies] to return to the attractive industry performance that has historically prevailed.”

We’re entering a new era of energy. One that operates at an accelerated, adapt-or-die speed that will cause old and slow companies to sink.

And let’s not forget about budgets.

A fog of financial anxiety surrounds digital transformation when the economic outlook is uncertain and capital spending is under the microscope.

Remember to put digital investments into perspective. Don’t invest to follow a trend. Savvy digital investments easily pay for themselves, and usually faster than you think.


Digital Transformation is No Longer a Differentiator

Five years ago, digital transformation was a holy grail. Today, it’s a necessity.

Without digitization, operations atrophy and liquidity dries up.

Companies that aspire to lead the sector are investing in:

  • Web-based apps with regulation-forward and security-forward architectures.
  • Cloud deployments with regional data centers and around-the-clock availability.
  • “Window of truth” platforms that combine multiple legacy systems into a single energy resource planning solution.
  • Single data platforms that capture data from across your business and leverage that information intelligently.
  • Modern system architectures that are sustainable, elastic, and flexible.
  • Customer-centric

Legacy systems, replete with clunky interfaces and chunky tech stacks, are old news.

Thinking of digital transformation simply as investment in technology is incomplete.

The average employee wastes 32 days every year cycling through a never-ending tornado of apps. Focus on the second word: transformation.

How can you deploy technology to transform your day-to-day processes and workflows?

How can you improve cyber security and boost productivity?

How about eliminating operational friction and unlocking your employees to execute amazing innovation and projects?


It’s Time to Get Resilient

The energy resource planning ecosystem is quickly changing.

Comprehensive, single-platform solutions are available that help you reconcile data, analyze trends, automate transactions, and manage every touchpoint from wellhead to end-user, within one easy-to-understand interface.

Better yet, the latest solutions are secure, portable, and mobile-ready, designed to accommodate the lifestyle of your new-and-improved workforce.

Don’t wait for another crisis to call your bluff. There will never be more time to think or a better time to invest.


Image Credit: Adobe Stock


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