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Canadian Oil & Gas has a secret weapon… its people

It's not just about extracting more of the resource… it's about doing it smartly.

Adam Crutchfield

Written by Adam Crutchfield, National Energy Leader

People are the key to a successful digital transformation of the Oil & Gas Industry in Canada.

People power energy

People power the energy sector and have done so since the birth of our Canadian industry. But the role they play and the level of impact that teams of people can have on long-term success is being amplified by technology. Our challenge, and our opportunity, is to bring our people along with us as we digitally transform the energy industry. In doing so, we will create the next generation of success.

As PwC Canada’s new National Energy Leader, I will offer my perspectives on our industry, the technology that’s driving change and the power that people have to enable success for our Canadian energy industry.

Depth in skills can help manage disruption

Our Energy Visions 2019 report highlights that ongoing technology investments by Canada’s energy companies will help our industry remain globally competitive. Given the unrelenting speed of disruption, that investment mindset and the willingness to support ongoing improvements in technology and capabilities will be vital.

Success in disruption depends on the availability of skills and talent and the transformative capacities of technology. The energy sector has always embraced technology and the competitive edge it brings, but it hasn’t always been good at investing in people to fully enable transformation.

The gaps I’m touching on here are more fully illustrated in some recent PwC research:

  • Our 22nd annual CEO Survey shows that 68% of global oil and gas CEOs are concerned about the availability of important skills in their industry, especially when it comes to the digital capabilities needed to implement digital transformation.
  • On the domestic front, our recent Digital IQ report shows that when compared to their global peers (21%), more Canadian executives (27%) say the lack of suitably skilled teams is the top barrier to success in digital initiatives for their organization.
  • Our same CEO Survey also showed that Canadians are significantly less likely than their counterparts (37% globally versus 27% in Canada) to train their employees to work with new technologies.

In other words, we may be seeing a sector looking to hire its way out of a problem, an approach the survey results suggest is more of a phenomenon in Canada than elsewhere in the world. We may be falling back on old habits in Canada, relying on our world-class post-secondary institutions to help us move the needle when we could also be moving to re-invest in long-tenured talent to bring them up the digital curve.

Give employees the right digital tools for the job

It’s not just about hiring more data scientists and engineers. It’s about upskilling and preparing our existing workforce for a new way of working. It’s about closing the “say/do” gap when it comes to investing in tools and training to digitally enable the workforce, thus creating the platform for further innovation.

Consider the question we ask in our latest Energy Visions report: “As the world moves toward an increasingly digital future, are we doing enough?”

If I had to answer that question today, I would say we’re doing a lot more than we were three to four years ago. But, as a Canadian industry, we’re not as far along as any of us would like to see.

Giving people the digital tools, and more importantly the capabilities, to get the job done is an important component of achieving digital transformation. Empowering executives below the CEO level to take charge of this digital transformation, as highlighted in our recent Digital IQ report, is a step in the right direction. That’s because in businesses that are successful, 75% to 80% of people involved in digital strategy are helping to form the overall strategy of their business. In short, digital is a platform, not a silo.

Technology will help the sector stay competitive

Our competitors abroad are investing heavily in how their people work, with the goal of making them more efficient in an increasingly digital sector. We can do that, too. And we should.

As Canada’s energy sector keeps investing in digital transformation initiatives and the people driving them, we will maintain and expand our global competitiveness as the overall market transitions.

Read more about digital transformation in Digital IQ and our view of Canada’s energy sector in Energy Visions 2019. You can also contact us to talk about the implications of digital for the oil and gas sector.

Contact us

Jill Satre

Jill Satre

Partner, National Energy Leader, Alberta Energy & ESG Leader, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 403 781 1844

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