Parsable Blog

Digitization isn’t enough — Lessons from WEF

Parsable Team

A few weeks ago the World Economic Forum invited some of the folks driving tech strategy in Oil & Gas to help workshop their Digital Transformation Initiative. Parsable was honored to be the only startup among senior leaders from major multinational corporations, academics, authors, and analysts invited to attend.

A couple of takeaways stand out. I invite interested parties to get in touch directly to dive deeper into these conversations.

Key Takeaway #1: Successful Digitization Requires Collaboration

Collaborative execution — not simply digitization — is the key to driving:

factory collaboration.jpg

Digitization efforts alone aren’t sufficient to fulfill the above priorities.Collaboration provides critical leverage within the context of an individual job, interdepartmentally, and even along an increasingly complex supply chain. Digital collaboration means you can replace opaque sequences with real-time oversight; and build safeguards and regulatory reminders into processes, but retain the flexibility to modify them when circumstances require. Collaboration can’t just be picking up the phone or the walkie-talkie, it needs to enable capturing photos, videos, even digital signatures and sharing them across sites and geographical locations so all of the parties needed to get the job done can get the full context.

In “The Checklist Manifesto,” Atul Gawande takes lessons learned observing operational excellence in aviation and applies them to healthcare. His main discovery is that the checklist is essential, but only when paired with collaborative execution are you assured that each step has been performed correctly. When things don’t go according to plan (which occurs more than we’d like to admit), it’s again collaboration that enables the freeform, urgent, all-hands-on-deck approach required to solve the problem and get back to normal.

Moving to a collaborative execution approach in healthcare resulted in a dramatic reduction in key metrics like post-operative infection rates. Imagine what it’ll mean for Oil & Gas. Many companies still rely on paper binders and walkie talkies, so a move towards digital procedures may seem forward-thinking. But stopping short of this collaborative element leaves aside the critical driver of impact.

Key Takeaway #2: Velocity → Value

Our second insight, hotly debated at the workshop, is that iterative deployment precedes end-to-end value.

The two are often set-up as counterpoints: a choice between velocity (rapid iteration, try → improve → improve) and value (get the perfect end-to-end solution). If it’s really a choice, then value seems the clear winner.

The problem is that going straight for value means you end up getting neither. The good intention to future-proof, risk-proof, and use-case-proof a solution for all possible scenarios unfortunately results in feature creep, endless delays, and most often a digital solution too complex for anyone to actually use in the field — expensive shelfware.

In comparison, if you seek velocity first, you get both. By starting a digital transformation project focused on a seemingly narrower pain point — a use case, a business unit — you can deploy a solution that delivers value to that group from day one. Then, you can iterate with them to address any issues or obstacles that no one knew would exist until the solution was actually field-tested. You derive patterns from those learnings that allow that solution to solve more use cases and more business drivers, quickly expanding across the entire organization. Proving quick and effective iteration is the most future-proof model you can buy.

We’d love to hear where you and your organization stand on these topics.