We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. A wave of disruption, which promises to unlock $1 trillion in value by 2025 for the oil and gas industry is on its way. Young professionals (YPs) have a choice to make: ignore the oncoming wave at their peril or learn to become star surfers.
4IR is a term coined by the World Economic Forum (WEF), an international body that acts as a guiding beacon for top executives, consultants, investors, and governments. It is famous for its yearly meeting in Davos, where these movers and shakers have been talking about the biggest threat/opportunity combination that they are faced with today: digital disruption.
If you look at the top five companies by market capitalization, you will notice that they are all tech companies today. A decade ago, three of the top five were oil and gas companies. Word on the street is that the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.
That is a threat, yes, but as a YP, I see this as an opportunity too because we are agile, innovative, and tech-savvy. However, to effectively surf this disruptive wave, we need to do two things:
Keep tracking the wave, and upskill ourselves so that we can quickly leverage the rapid innovations.
Develop an entrepreneurial disruptive mindset so we can bite into the $1 trillion pie.
A primer to the 4IR’s impact on the oil and gas industry
The 7 broad elements of the 4IR are
Internet of Things: Inter-networking of physical devices through software and sensors
Artificial Intelligence: Machines mimicking cognitive functions associated with the human mind
Big Data Analytics: Process of examining large and varied data sets to uncover hidden patterns
Cloud Computing: Providing shared computer processing resources and data to devices on demand
Platform Economy: Business model that allows users to not just consume value but also create value
3D Printing & Custom Manufacturing
Robots & Drones
These elements and others not mentioned here (such as blockchain and neurotechnology) may combine in ways that cannot be forecast today. Almost all major oil and gas companies are piloting multiple projects around emerging technologies. For example, Schlumberger is evaluating the use of Google Glasses for field operations and Chevron is using drones to improve its HSE performance. The smart YP who takes the initiative to both understand these trends and evaluate how they impact her or his work will stay ahead of the game.
We have just spud the well with this article. To drill deeper into the topic, here are some additional resources: