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If the pace of change in global business wasn’t already at light speed, what’s happened in the last few weeks has made it so. Suddenly, entire industries are trying to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming operations. What does this mean for the energy sector?
Two experts with insight into this joined Pink Petro founder Katie Mehnert to discuss this: Dawn James, energy lead for the Americas at Microsoft and Rachel Lane, solution principal, customer experience at Medallia.
“In oil and gas specifically, when it comes to new technologies “we’re a bit of a skeptical bunch,” said James. “We’re not ones to do it just because everybody else is. We always have to have a very clear reason why we’re doing what we’re doing, why we’re going through the process.”
The pandemic has forced the industry to try to adopt new technologies quickly, she said. “If what’s going on now with this crisis is an indication as to whether or not we can, the answer is absolutely yes.” In fact, James added, many people she works with “have flipped the switch overnight” — including by setting people up to work from home.
Lane, who works with numerous industries, said this crisis has shown that agility is crucial for a business and an entire industry. “Up until this crisis we thought of business agility as being almost a luxury, and as something that we know we need to get to at some point… If there’s one thing that this has shown us, it’s that actually those businesses that are more agile in how they can pivot to the new market, those are going to be the ones that are going to not just survive, but they’re going to thrive.”
Lane added, “This has been a great wakeup call for quite a few vertical sectors, forcing internal conversations about how to use technology in new ways for business operations. I think our investments going forward will be very geared toward leveling risk as well.”
As for what technologies are most important now, James highlighted big data analytics and predictive analytics as particularly important. Lane agreed that digital efforts are pivotal in enabling a business to connect “disparate data in a meaningful way to understand how we move the business forward.”
Digital platforms that allow companies to engage with their customers are crucial as well, Lane said. Also, “the industry is absolutely changing toward green energy” and “diversifying the energy stack,” James added.