In the past several years the energy industry has seen a changing of the guard, with a new generation coming into the field to replace industry veterans. Now we are standing on the precipice of another crew change—this time with robots. According to a World Economic Forum study, robots will handle 52% of current work tasks by 2025—nearly twice as many as today. In the field of energy, advances in artificial intelligence software and robotics offer the promise of freeing humans from dangerous and difficult tasks such as decommissioning offshore oil and gas installations, and inspecting, maintaining and repairing power lines, underwater pipelines, and tall wind turbines.
Middle market energy companies are taking advantage of these technologies today. And while they need to innovate, they need to do so without raising costs too much. Since innovation is a complex, company-wide endeavor, it requires a set of processes to structure, organize and promote it. According to McKinsey, companies that aspire, choose, discover, evolve, accelerate, scale, extend and mobilize with regard to innovation are the ones that are most successful. Determining how much your company does these eight things is an important starting point for improving innovation performance.
One of the first steps to building an innovative organization requires understanding where you are today and then assessing the gap between that and where you want to be. To do so, middle market energy companies need to analyze what is routine and repeatable within the energy process. "Leaders cannot simply mandate a new culture,” said Ana Denena, national practice energy leader for RSM US LLP. "Organizations must develop new routines that fit in the context of their own culture and move toward a culture that embraces the right mix of innovation in technological advances."