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August 31, 2018

It’s time oil companies rethink margins, not just production. Given the sustained low oil prices, there is a clear imperative for oil firms to improve oilfield operations and make  assets cheaper, more effective, and safer. Adding to the conundrum, competition in the world petroleum market is growing fiercer by the day with regional players such as those in West Texas  going head-to-head with those in the Middle East.

A Business 4.0 approach to digital transformation that hinges on delivering mass personalization and leveraging digital ecosystems to create exponential value and mitigate risk will be key in helping oil companies successfully navigate the new reality.

Tailored decision-making is key to better outcomes

Currently, mass personalization is applied only in consumer facing businesses. But it actually holds the answer to solving an age-old dilemma that organizations have faced in the oilfield. How do you reconcile the standard processes  used to drive high levels of efficiency and safety with the fact that every well is unique, much like a consumer?  Standardization can go wrong in the face of demand for personalization; as such solutions can fail at the point of impact and often leave money on the table.

Leveraging a Business 4.0 strategy encompassing automation, cloud, IoT, and advanced  analytics can change the equation. It can help stakeholders better understand well and field performance using sensor data from connected devices in the oilfield. But given the vast number of oilfields, the result could prove to  be a data deluge, full of useless and erroneous noise that is expensive to collect.  It’s likely that such a massive amount of information confuses users more than it enlightens. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Partnering with a managed data services provider (MSP) can help oil firms gain access to information, with an unprecedented level of detail and  frequency,  to derive the insights they need to make informed decisions tailored to individual wells. MSPs address the flow of data about field performance  with the same discipline and level of care as they do to the flow of product from the well. By ensuring deep commitment to quality levels, transparency into data availability, and timely reaction to data outages, the right MSP partner helps exponentially increase the value of the information. The result: rapid ROI on sensor and telemetry networks.

Using an  advanced analytics-driven approach enables organizations to glean granular and new insights that improve throughput, asset life, and safety. For instance, analytical insights have led to lower lifting costs by identifying areas where operator training can be enhanced  and reduced failures by assessing equipment failure signatures. The key to making these insights  effective is to drive change deep into the field  by using design thinking and agile principles, thereby enabling holistic impact.

Data, not opinions will drive the future of oilfields

Workers in oilfields – whether in field service roles or managerial positions – have traditionally been known to be resistant to change and closed off to opinions of outsiders. Good digital analytics, however, is backed by  data, not opinions, making data-based decision making more palatable to employees. For instance, the nuanced differences in analytical insights between offshore and onshore operations – such as between steam lift and CO2 injection – are significant.

The trick to analytical success lies in starting small, digging deep to find relevant and actionable insights, and learning and building in an agile manner to reap desired outcomes. Business 4.0 provides oil and gas companies with the right tools to do just this.


Tom Franklin is an Industry Advisor and Director of the TCS Energy & Resources Center of Excellence for Business Performance. He comes to TCS with over 40 years of Oil & Gas industry experience in operations and business unit management. For the last few years, he has worked with Energy & Resources Oil & Gas customers in the area of Digital Transformation. His main area of focus has been Advanced Digital Analytics for operations safety and performance improvement. He is one of the leaders of the implementation of TCS’ Industry 4.0 approach for the Energy & Resources unit and its Oil & Gas customers.


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