Omar Saleh, Director for Oil and Gas at Microsoft, Middle East and Africa
Challenges in the oil and gas industry in the Middle East and Africa are continually evolving, not least because of the drop in oil price. With these challenges, the stakes are getting higher with new imperatives for sustainability and operational efficiency.
Technology and business converge
Technology is the perfect fit for companies in the industry looking to find ways of addressing these challenges and remain competitive. This includes improving recovery rates, lowering environmental and safety risks and maintaining operations that result in cost savings and improved productivity and profitability.
That’s why we recently opened a new area in our Microsoft Centre of Excellence for oil and gas in Dubai. This is a unique venture that gives big industry players in the Middle East and Africa as well as the rest of the world, the opportunity to see how Microsoft technologies can help them do business.
Putting IT spend to good use
IT spend in oil and gas is increasing, with the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicting spend of US $49.4 billion this year. According to the 2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey by Accenture and Microsoft, 80% of upstream oil and gas companies plan to increase spending on digital technologies in order to help them drive leaner, smarter organisations.
We believe that our technologies make this investment worth it, by offering real solutions to the problems the industry faces.
First and foremost, we’ve partnered with leading industry players like Accenture, Aveva, Baker Hughes, Honeywell, OSIsoft, Schneider Electric and Schlumberger to assist in delivering integrated, cost-effective solutions on a functionally-rich platform that empowers businesses to achieve their goals.
This comes in the form of our Azure Internet of Things (IoT) suite, which gives oil and gas companies the ability to collect, process, analyse, share and store their data in near real-time for business process improvement.
With 44% of respondents in the 2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey reporting that investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) is their next big priority, it’s clear that in the current challenging environment the industry is focusing technologies on areas that will deliver efficiencies and savings in the short term while enabling faster decision making. Respondents also saw the greatest impact from IoT in enabling connected field workers, with 60% planning to have field workers and assets digitally connected with smart devices.
Coupled with our Azure Internet of Things (IoT) suite , our comprehensive cloud vision empowers businesses to develop their solutions on premises or in hybrid or public cloud setups – thus leveraging the cloud on their own terms.
A good example of this is Total, one of the largest publically traded integrated oil and gas companies globally. Total needed to build a private cloud environment. They partnered with Microsoft and deployed a comprehensive Microsoft private cloud solution that would generate significant cost savings for Total.
According to George Alexander, Head of IT Architecture Quality Methods at Total, “Microsoft offered complete end-to-end integration, from operating system to the virtualisation layer to the management layer.”
With Microsoft’s private cloud solution, Total has been able to deliver servers in hours instead of weeks, eliminate maintenance-related downtime and the need for complex clustering architectures while drastically reducing hardware costs.
It’s clear that working in this environment plays an important role in boosting productivity and collaboration. Our solutions foster user adoption and allow for an agile environment, which promotes greater flexibility to work wherever, whenever. This helps with creating a culture of innovation.
Lastly, when we talk about IoT and the cloud, it’s essential that security remains top of mind as cyber-attacks are a real concern for oil and gas companies.
Microsoft’s experience in cyber security, including its own Digital Crimes Unit, brings industry-leading experts and technology together to protect against modern threats. The topic of security will be at the core of conversations taking place at the new centre of excellence for the oil and gas industry.
Oil and gas set to reach its full potential
With these solutions in place, we are excited about the potential the oil and gas industry has to thrive in the Middle East and Africa.