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Making the journey: Five questions for energy and mining executives to ask about their organizations’ digital strategies.


Energy & Mining | March 7, 2018


The Energy & Mining article, “In the Boardroom,” was co-written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultants Andy MacRae and Brian Bayne. They provided five questions for energy and mining executives that are critical in setting up for a successful digital transformation. The article is excerpted below.

Energy and mining companies are among the early adopters of digital technologies. However, many organizations have only scratched the surface when it comes to harnessing the full potential of digital. The most important investment for companies looking to move from digital awareness to full digitization is finding the right executives to lead the transformation.

In Russell Reynolds’ “2018 Digital Pulse Survey,” 79 percent of the surveyed oil and gas and mining executives said that their digital strategy is not embedded across the organization. Canvassing the landscape of early adopters, most digitization efforts have related to improving operational performance and enhancing safety.

The next wave in digitization will focus on integrated process views, complex scenario-based planning and data pattern recognition at levels and speeds beyond human capacity. The industry will see vast improvements and transformative change across a number of areas, including real-time preventive maintenance, product and service digitization, supply chain integration and early warning systems for plant disruptions. Achieving these next-level results is not easy and will require significant focus and investment in new skills and capabilities.

Digital Transformation Leaders

Unlike other executives, digital transformation leaders have a very unique profile. Through in-depth analysis and research, we found that digital leaders are characterized by their disruptive orientation and their ability to approach the business in unconventional ways.

These out-of-the-box thinkers will challenge traditional approaches while infusing creative problem-solving and innovative solutions into the organization. They tend to be bold risk takers who persevere in the face of challenges and move optimistically into new areas. These “lead from the front” executives possess a relentless commitment to higher standards, and their resilience and determination will have a galvanizing impact on the broader organization and culture.

Every organization will make a different journey toward digitization; however, our conversations with senior industry executives revealed five questions that are critical in setting up for a successful digital transformation.

1. Where are we on our digital journey?

In our Digital Pulse Survey, 49 percent of the oil and gas and mining executives said their organizations use digital technologies but do not have an integrated, strategic approach to leveraging their value. Investments in automation and new ways to collect, store and leverage existing data have been the most significant areas of digital investment for natural resources companies.

These investments have allowed companies to collect more data and utilize the data to operate more efficiently. However, most companies operate in silos, and industry executives agree that the lack of organization-wide integration of digital limits their ability to more fully benefit from the data they collect.

2. What is our digital strategy?

Less than a third (28 percent) of oil and gas and mining executives in the survey reported that they fully understood their firms’ strategies and approaches to digital. A clearly defined digital strategy that aligns with the business strategy will facilitate an organization’s ability to realize its strategic goals and maintain a competitive advantage. An awareness of the digital capabilities in other sectors will be critical to the success of oil and gas and mining companies, as much of the improvement potential from digital/data can be realized by adopting proven capabilities from other industries.

To read the full article, click here.

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In the Boardroom