Technology Deployment: How to Get it Done and Maximize Outcomes

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The oil and gas industry has truly pushed the boundaries over time, and delivered projects that were considered unthinkable not too long ago. Technology has truly been an enabler. Yet, despite the undeniable role that technology has played, it is also clear that there is significant room to further accelerate the speed of technology deployment.

Although it is often believed that “risk averseness” is one of the main reasons for the lack of innovation in oil and gas, it is often due to other reasons, such as:

  • End users are keen, but do not know about available technologies or do not know where to start. As a result, they stick to conventional practices.
  • End users do not have the time and/or expertise to assess the available technologies and to sustainably embed technologies into the business.
  • Suppliers have difficulties getting access to the right people in the end-user company and/or struggle to make a convincing case.

By addressing these three aspects, major hurdles for change are removed, such that the chances increase that end-users are prepared to change their current ways of working, resulting in accelerated technology deployment.

Simplifying Technology Selection

As in daily life, we are far more confident about using technology if we know about others that have successfully used it. Also, it clearly helps in the decision-­making process if we are aware of reviews from a recognized expert or other user.

For these reasons, Deployment Matters launched the Technology Catalogue. The platform was developed based on first-hand experience because it is often difficult for decision makers to stay up to date on available technology-driven improvement opportunities for their business. The platform helps technology providers create more visibility for their technologies. In a sense, it works similar to TripAdvisor and other sites that we use in our daily life, although in an industry like ours we would likely not rely on anonymous reviews, or reviews from strangers.

Positioning Technologies for Success

Why do some technologies get deployed while other seemingly superior technologies struggle to get traction? A “technology stress test” provides answers and gives key insights on what can be done to increase the chances of success. This stress test is based on more than 600 deployments (subsurface, wells and facilities technologies). A technology has to be technically sound and fit-for-purpose. But eventually, the reason for users to choose it—instead of one of the many other things that can be done to improve performance—is mostly driven by nontechnical factors.

With a stress test, technology is assessed against approximately 30 criteria grouped under seven themes. Only one of the themes is technical, the other six are nontechnical (Fig. 1). Based on a dialogue with key stakeholders around the table, a score is given in the range of 0–5 per theme based on the current situation. As part of the dialogue, actions are discussed and agreed such that the chances of success can be increased.

Fig. 1—Assessment of technology using the stress test tool with technologies assessed against approximately 30 criteria grouped under seven themes.


For example, the test helps assess in a structured manner whether the risks and rewards are fairly distributed, not only between supplier and end-user company, but also between different teams within the end-user company. If this is not the case, you can be sure that there will be resistance, sometimes in a subtle manner. Often the reason why technologies are “stuck in the mud” is because of an unbalanced distribution of risks and rewards; technologies that make everyone a winner are usually the easiest to get deployed.

You must also assess the amount of change management that is required to introduce the technology. Does the technology that you want to get deployed make use of existing data and IT hardware? Is the technology compatible with current processes/ways of working? These and other questions should be asked. If too much (perceived) change is required, then this may be a reason or excuse for end-users to stick to their current practices.

Throughout the dialogue, it is important to keep in mind that it is not the actual score that matters. What matters is the quality of the dialogue, and the actions as a result of the dialogue that can be completed within the desired timeline. It is our experience that three to five well-defined, targeted actions are often sufficient to get technology deployment going.

What if your technology does not pass the test? It could, for example, mean that it is better to first target other companies, or other specific assets/projects within the company, where the chances of success are higher. Or, for a startup company working on a novel technology, it may mean that you need to think early on about the right tactics. This can be illustrated with an example from daily life. I was among the first people in The Netherlands who could control my heating system from my smartphone. This system was provided through the same contractor that had done a great job refurbishing the old house in which I live. Little chance that I would have allowed a stranger to remove the existing control system and replace it with something new. The startup company that provided the smart system realized that and teamed up with a well-established contractor. A similar tactic can sometimes be used to get novel technology accepted in oil and gas.

Technology deployment in the oil and gas industry is challenging, but it can be done. An easy-to-digest overview in combination with deployment references and user/expert reviews aids the selection process. That, combined with applying insights from a technology stress test, can help position technologies for success.

Erik Nijveld is managing partner and cofounder of Deployment Matters, supporting technology providers and oil and gas operators with getting technology deployed, including all related change management aspects. Before starting Deployment Matters, he worked for 19 years at Shell. In his last role, he set up Shell’s “Technology Replication Thrust for Production Excellence.” He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Twente and received an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management.

Technology Deployment: How to Get it Done and Maximize Outcomes

Erik Nijveld, Managing Partner, Deployment Matters

01 September 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 9



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