Energy giants BP and Shell focus on innovation and collaboration as they search for solutions to save the industry and the planet.
Do you know why Ed Alford, vice president of Business Application Services at British Petroleum (BP), works for an energy company and not a tech giant like Google?
“If you pull the plug, you can’t do a Google search. We can only ensure a better tomorrow for our children if we act today to create clean energy. One of the best ways to do that is from the inside of energy companies,” he said recently at SAPPHIRE NOW.
Energy powers everything. The way heat, light, and mobility are delivered is changing dramatically. Energy can power economic growth, and it can help solve the big issues of the century like climate change. For example, BP has the largest renewables business in the oil and gas industry ranging from biofuels in Brazil to wind energy in the US.
“By 2020, BP’s portfolio will be 50 percent gas, because gas is even cleaner than renewables and doesn’t require additional energy for production,” says Ed. “But producing gas efficiently requires technology at every step of the way, beginning with extraction and ending at the customer. Technology can make the world run better.”
To meet these goals, it is critical that BP has a flexible, secure, high-performing IT platform to enable its teams to rapidly develop these new innovations at a minimal costs. The company uses the leading Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform for its unmatched functionality, platform maturity, and reliability.
An Industry Under Fire
Geographic challenges, price fluctuations, skills gaps in the workforce, and the rise of new technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics are all pressuring the oil and gas industry. But perhaps the biggest pressure is coming from consumers who, like Ed, are worried about the future.
The industry risks losing public support without progress toward cleaner energy. Earlier this year Royal Dutch Shell decided to sell most of its carbon-heavy oil sands assets in Canada. The sixth-largest company in the world also plans to increase its investment in renewable energy to $1 billion a year by the end of the decade.
“Our biggest challenge is maintaining public acceptance of the energy industry. Trust is becoming a serious issue for our long term future,” said Shell’s executive leader Ben van Beurden at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston a few months ago.
But it’s not so easy to finance change and innovation. Most companies today spend 75 percent of their resources on running the company — aka keeping the lights on — and only 25 percent on innovation. That equation must be inverted if an enterprise wants to stay ahead of the game.
What’s the Secret?
“To innovate successfully, you need to focus on the people who asked for innovation,” say Klaas de Waart, ERP Enterprise Portfolio Manager at Shell. His job is to assess and implement SAP enterprise and analytics products at the company.
“By shifting innovation from the back end to the front end and targeting small communities, you stabilize and shrink the development cycle. To stabilize the back end requires innovating to market standards. We no longer want to purchase software or applications that require customization. We want to purchase standard “off-the-shelf” applications that require no customization or engineering to work in our environment, all running on an SAP platform.”
Essentially, what Klaas wants is a simple app store where he and his team can search for new applications or functionality they can buy and install without any fuss. That saves time and money.
SAP App Center Makes It Simple
“We want to make it easy for our customers to find and acquire great solutions from our broad ecosystem of strategic solution partners including startups, independent software vendors, and services and technology partners,” says Diane Fanelli, general manager, Global Channels and Platform at SAP. “That’s why we made SAP App Center more compatible with procurement processes and easier for our partners to engage with SAP customers.
Innovapptive is an enterprise mobility software company partnering with SAP to help enterprises like Shell transform their businesses through process and technology reengineering.
“Our vision is to unlock and maximize the investments made by customers in SAP,” says Sundeep Ravande, CEO and co-founder of Innovapptive. “We do that with configurable prepackaged mobile workforce management solutions and a configuration framework available on SAP Cloud Platform, so we can jointly deliver innovation and value to our mutual customers.”
In this model, Innovapptive invests in creating an innovative solution for Shell and then markets it on the SAP App Center. “This is a win-win for everyone,” says Klaas.
Companies like BP and Shell know the clock is ticking if we want to solve the big issues impacting our future. That’s why speed and ease of innovation are critical, and that’s why a collaborative approach is the best way forward.
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