Digital change critical for the Resources industry

Change can be hard, but it’s better when you choose it, rather than having it forced upon you

Times might be tough for miners at the moment, but while commodity prices are currently historically low, these pricing fluctuations and cycles are par for the course. It’s important to remember that demand for energy, however, continues to grow. In fact, some analysts state the oil and gas extraction industry is set to grow 12.8% in FY16.

As we transition from one point in the market cycle to the next, it’s a good time to take a moment and look at current operations with a view to making adjustments over what we can control. Times like these give the industry an opportunity to reflect, plan and modify operations to reduce costs and find real operational efficiencies.

And really, increasing the amount of control you have of your operations is what it’s all about. Recent developments and price reductions in storage, big data and sensing technology are bringing effective remote operation and automation much closer to an industry that has traditionally been a little cautious in its approach. While it might be difficult to find the executive goodwill to invest in new technology (that could be transformative for offshore processing and remote operations), now’s exactly the time to look at the possible future returns on this type of investment.

Calculating the cost of change/building the business case

The first step is to understand exactly what you want to achieve and then determine what might be holding you back. When it comes to investing in technology and changing the way you do things, you really need to start with your goals first. Don’t be blinded by the tech – you need to be clear about what you want to achieve, and then work backwards from there to ensure that your new technology goals are 100% aligned with the goals of the business.

Beyond this, there are a number of key questions to ask that can help you to understand the real impetus and value for change. These questions are also of prime importance when building a persuasive business case.

Ask yourself:

  • What opportunities are you currently missing out on?
  • Will your current technology support your anticipated future business needs for remote operations, digitisation and automation?
  • What risks are posed to the business by remaining with the current technology stack and maintaining the status quo?
  • What are the gaps between what your current technology can provide and where you want your mining operation to be?

Paying the price of same

There are many examples from the world of IT where enterprises have successfully calculated the cost of doing things the same versus doing things differently. Some of the largest and most successful enterprises are those that have grabbed change with both hands and reaped the benefits of being ahead of the curve, and then have established processes and policies that encourage and reward innovation so that they stay there.

Google and Apple are great examples here, and the price that companies like Microsoft have paid for not embracing change and being slow to enter the mobile platform market is well documented.

There are many other examples that could be used to illustrate this process. But regardless of which example you choose, what’s important here is ensuring that your business understands both the potential of new technologies and their limitations. The technology side of your business also needs to understand the needs and objectives of your business. Then you have to ensure that the companies that you partner with to provide technological solutions understand this as well.

Partnering and investing for change

When you’ve begun the journey to answer these strategic questions you will build a suitable knowledge platform from which to make your decision. But from this point, you can start to ask a different set of questions that stack up the value of your incumbent technology providers versus their competition – the challengers.

You can also start to compare not just the services that they provide, but their understanding of your organisation’s business requirements and their ability to align with them. Ask yourself:

  • Do they have a great grasp of emerging technologies and their implications for mining?
  • Can they be agile – can they implement their proposed solutions to your agenda, to your specific requirements?
  • Do they value providing best of breed solutions that will deliver certainty and a degree of future proofing?
  • Can they be a true technology partner to your business and do they really understand your aspirations?

Change can certainly be hard, but the rewards can be significant for those that make smart decisions and embrace the new. It can pay in the long run to invest in change. At Nextgen you’ll find a company that understands change and offers flexible, agile technology solutions for your future business requirements. Our customers will tell you that we’re quick to understand their requirements and quick to make them reality. Change can be good when you choose it. Challenge accepted.