Re-Inventing the Second Wheel I A Conversation with Wipro’s Canadian Country Manager about the Convergence of Digital, Industrial and Social Innovation

“How does one measure the success of a museum?” – J. Paul Getty

It has often been said that humanity’s most diffusive periods of economic growth were accomplished when disparate forces came together to solve the seemingly unsolvable. One need only look to the productivity boom of the industrial revolution, the paradigm-shifting response to the great war, or the democratization of information following the dawn of the information age, to witness the monumental effect that the resolution of societal-scale problems can have on the economic fortunes of the street-level person.

Our current era in history offers its own challenges to executives and workers alike; challenges that polarize the masses in a way rarely seen in the modern age. Living on a planet with finite resources serves up the latest quandary our civilization must face given our penchant for endless growth. The age of readily accessible and cheap-to-produce resources offered a stabilizing force to the growth and productivity trends that formed the foundation of the modern age. These trends, however, are anything but sustainable.

Decades of drilling in Alberta has built the economic engine of Canada, putting meals on the table for countless families and improving the quality of life for more still. And yet, this quality of life remains elusive for many; even in Calgary, the historical heart of the Canadian oil and gas industry. This city, and many resource-dependent centers like it, is at a once-in-an-epoch inflection point that will determine our destiny for this next millennium and beyond.

While the debate surrounding environmental impact is often one of the divisive us-vs-them refrains, the reality of the opportunities offered by this latest societal challenge lies bare for all to see. With increased efficiencies through the advancement in digital technologies, comes both lowered emissions and improved profits. And, therein lies the unique opportunity that partisan prognosticators seem unable or unwilling to face.

Amit Majithia, Vice-President and Canadian Country Manager at Wipro, will be navigating the oil and gas industry’s second-wheel alongside fellow digital leaders from Suncor, Enbridge, Enmax, Tundra Solutions, Attabotics, Calgary Economic Development, and Alberta Energy Regulator at The ERA Digital Foundation’s inaugural digital event – ‘ The Soft Machine‘ on Thursday, May 14.

As is the new normal in 2020, Amit and recently sat down in our respective virtual living roomes to discuss how Canadian energy companies can leverage digital innovation to accelerate business growth whilst simultaneously providing for decreased societal and environmental liabilities.

What do you think are the most significant advances in digital technology in the energy industry over the last year and how can they effect the survivability and growth of the average Canadian producer? What are your customers doing to ensure they capture the benefits of digital innovation rather than falling victim to them?

Firstly, it’s important to understand that digital technology within the oil and gas industry is not a new concept. This industry has sought out digital technology to streamline processes for quite some time. What is new and has impacted the survivability and growth of Canadian producers is the adoption of digital technology to positively impact the experience consumers and employees have with the company. This has brought a need for digital tools like cloud computing, mobility solutions, AI, IoT, cybersecurity, etc. all of which we work with our clients to implement.

In the current COVID-19 environment, there has also been a renewed focus on how digital technologies are critical to support the continuous operations of energy companies. Tools and platforms that enable employees to work from home as well as remote team collaboration, agile anywhere software development, secure access to shared documents on public or private cloud networks all now recognized as essential to the business.

Our key to yielding the benefits of digital innovation is design thinking and bringing this concept into the core of our client’s business models. The base of design thinking is Empathizing: – understanding the human needs involved to recognize problems and the ability to quickly mobilize, creating a user experience that benefits consumers. Our clients best leverage the design thinking skillset we offer by working with us as their advisors, and not just those who create products. The companies we service that embrace our design thinking process tend to operate with an outside-in perspective that puts their customers at the core of their focus and quickly results in positive impacts on the company as a whole.

How does Wipro help oil and gas companies leverage digital innovation to drive business automation, data intelligence and workflow efficiencies while mutually advancing corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives?

Economic turbulence is not new to the O&G industry and given the fast-changing scenario we are seeing on a day to day basis now, we expect it to be a very interesting time for the Energy industry over the next one year. Energy convergence has taken prominence across Oil & Gas, utilities and renewables and that will only be accelerated now. Our O&G customers are working on a twofold agenda – one that modernizes the core, strengthens the digital foundation, and another that explores the viability of scaling innovation possible from adopting digital tech. We are helping a number of our customers do both.

Wipro is definitely a unique player in the marketplace as we specialize in key areas that not only help our customers achieve their goals but also work to better identify those goals. Prior to our recommendations, we like to connect with the client to get an idea of where the company wants to be in the near and distant future. We tackle each project with a co-creative approach, working with them to collaborate and incubate strategies offering new ways of working and increased agility—we like to think big and execute from the bottom-up.

For our oil and gas clients, there are two key drivers of digital transformation (DX) programs, the first is the want to improve their consumer’s experience, and the second, to become a more sustainable and conscious organization. Using our design thinking, new ways of working we can support clients and implement automation, data intelligence, and workflow efficiencies, all essential to achieving their ESG objectives, further enabling them to achieve a sustainable future.

We also leverage strategic partnerships that help digital and data foundation platforms that tap onto the vast amount of data the industry generates to make it accessible, enhance decision making, productivity, and performance. The Microsoft partnership is one such example where we are jointly contributing to the Open subsurface data universe. We build/orchestrate an ecosystem of niche partners to enable the digital agenda of our customers.

What opportunities do you envision for public-private partnerships that can rise above the division and find common ground and practical solutions to the growth, evolution, and increased environmental leadership of the Canadian Energy industry?

From our perspective, we can see a few opportunities for private-public partnerships (P3s) offering growth to green initiatives in Canada’s energy industry. The first opportunity comes from the shrinking financial resources available during times of crisis creating a need for support on green initiatives. P3s are a useful tool to work through a financial crunch, providing a mutually beneficial incentive for public and private companies to come together to ensure plans for green initiatives within the industry go unscathed—Government entities want to meet their goals for green energy and so do the oil and gas producers.

Another opportunity for P3s lies in the growing trend of CleanTech, which has the potential to become an attractive investment for the Canadian Government.

For additional information and to register for the opening chapter of ‘The Soft Machine – A Deep Exploration of Alberta’s Next Energy Economy’, please click here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Robert Brennan Hart
Robert Brennan Hart
Robert Brennan Hart currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Social Impact at the Electronic Recycling Association and has been recognized by the United Nations Foundation as one of the world's Top 70 Digital Leaders and Avenue Magazine as a Top 40 Under 40 digital luminary. As the founder and former CEO of the Canadian Cloud Council and Politik, Robert is a globally recognized advocate for the advancement of a more equitable and enlightened digital society and has participated as a member of the United Nations Global Digital Council, DocuSign global advisory board, and HotTopic’s Meaningful Business steering committee. Previous to joining the ERA, Robert served as the Chief Community Officer at Abaxx Technologies and Executive Producer of the Smarter Markets podcast.

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