Cost pressures, regulatory change, and a global focus on energy transition are rewriting the rulebook for oil and gas companies. Is your business fighting to remain relevant and profitable? Digital transformation is part of the solution. But the tools you choose must be agile enough to help you navigate an industry on the cusp of change.
Process automation technologies, such as low-code application development platforms and robotic process automation (RPA) solutions, can meet your need for flexibility—as well as offer cost-efficiency in a volatile market.
Where automation alone is not enough to solve complex business problems, AI (artificial intelligence) can be woven into the technology mix. With capabilities such as machine learning built-in, your process automation solutions become more intelligent and capable of revolutionizing the way you work.
1. Modernize with minimal disruption
Fragmented, inflexible legacy systems often thwart progress, despite being crucial to critical operations. In an intelligent automation environment, low-code applications and software robots can connect easily with IT assets you already have in place—allowing you to automate without overhauling your IT setup.
While there will be a slight learning curve, you can typically deploy these process automation tools without extensive and costly training. The high usability of these customer-centric solutions makes it much easier for you to extend automation throughout your enterprise.
2. Adopt AI as you need it
Gartner’s CIO Agenda Survey found that AI adoption is growing steadily. In 2018, only 4% of the companies surveyed had deployed AI. By 2019, this had increased to 14%.
AI can push process automation into new areas of possibility, thanks to capabilities such as machine learning, natural language processing, image recognition, and so forth. With an agile process automation platform in place, you can embed these capabilities into your workflows as and when required. This iterative approach makes AI adoption much more manageable. It also allows you to adopt more sophisticated technology as AI evolves.
One field of AI that works well in the oil & gas setting is machine learning. This uses models to extract knowledge and patterns from rapidly growing volumes of data. You could, for example, use this intelligence to monitor operations and better detect risks or opportunities. Alternatively, you could leverage predictive analytics to test new exploration options and assess the potential environmental impacts of new projects before these are launched.
3. Optimize processes end-to-end
With the tools to customize your own intelligent applications and a framework to pull all your resources together—software robots, AI, data, and people—you can reimagine a wide range of downstream and upstream processes.
With all these business optimization tools working synergistically, you can streamline processes from start to finish. You can also track performance and identify bottlenecks. This supports continued process improvement.
4. Manage data smarter
Oil & gas operations produce an overwhelming amount of data and content. You need a system to efficiently manage multiple sources of information, from run tickets and transaction reports to data that’s related to exploration and production.
Intelligent automation combines the automated data processing power of software robots with AI’s ability to capture and extract meaning from vast quantities of unstructured data. The result? You can transform paperwork into digital data and benefit from critical insights that were previously inaccessible.
Day-to-day, you can also incorporate data into your processes more efficiently. You could, for example, use an intelligent application to capture and time-stamp photos or videos as part of an inspection process.
5. Ease compliance burdens
Intelligent automation in oil & gas also enhances compliance and audit-readiness. First, when you’re building digital workflows and processes, you are redesigning these from the ground up. You can, therefore, make sure that all work complies with current safety laws and other industry regulations.
Second, process automation technologies log every action. This maps data flows and provides a clear audit trail of process steps completed. If you need to prove that safety-related checks were completed, for instance, you have the evidence at hand.
All this considered, intelligent automation in oil & gas could help companies navigate the rapid change that will characterize the energy sector going forward.