O&G Professional Collaboration Grows with Social Media Tools -Survey

Oil and gas professionals are collaborating more than they did one year ago and are adopting the use of social media tools into their daily work, according to a Microsoft and Accenture survey.

The survey of 205 professionals within international, national and independent oil- and gas-related companies found that nearly three-fourths (74 percent) are using social media for business collaboration — a significant increase over last year's survey responses (62 percent). Public instant-messaging tools are used the most for business collaboration (38 percent, an 11 percent increase over last year), followed by internal company social networks (33 percent, a 17 percent increase over last year).

Overall, professionals are working together more than ever, with 34 percent reporting that they are collaborating more this year than in the previous year. This trend is anticipated to grow in coming years, primarily because of the aging oil and gas industry work force that must prepare its younger generation to take on leadership roles. Almost a third of respondents (31 percent) said that improved technology-driven access to information could lessen the business impact resulting from the scarcity of skills and talent stemming from the aging work force.

In addition, the global nature of the oil and gas industry is driving the demand for the ability to collaborate from anywhere, at any time, using any device for real-time information and knowledge sharing. However, this ability is often hindered by what survey respondents identified as the biggest barriers for collaboration: broken workflows that prevent information flow (47 percent) and no unified solution for knowledge sharing (45 percent).

To address these collaboration barriers, respondents identified that the following technology enhancements are needed to further a company's success: improved timing to streamline decision-making (52 percent), improved interaction capability through any device (42 percent), and improved computing power for data analysis and computer simulation (35 percent).

"As the industry continues to expand globally with workers dispersed across multiple regions, oil and gas companies are challenged to find new, innovative ways to help employees collaborate and share information remotely, in a security-enhanced manner," said Craig Hodges, general manager of U.S. Manufacturing and Resources at Microsoft. "The cloud is driving this business transformation, providing flexibility, agility and cost reductions to the enterprise and providing information workers with anytime, anyplace access to information, across a wide variety of connected smart devices, powered by Windows."

"Diversification, developments in oil and gas technology, talent, and regulatory policies are just a few factors demanding oil and gas companies to make information available to their work forces and partners in a timely and efficient manner," said Brian Miller, senior executive in the energy industry group at Accenture. "The survey results show the industry's recognition of the strategic benefits in utilizing IT solutions such as cloud computing, enabling easier accessibility to data and knowledge sharing within a security-enhanced environment. Companies need to accelerate the implementation of these solutions to help them innovate, operate more successfully in dynamic environments, and increase their productivity and business performance."