A number of oil and gas companies have set up business units to focus on innovation, research and new technologies. This includes partnering with both universities and other research organizations to facilitate the transfer of emerging technologies to:
- Create and/or maintain a competitive advantage
- Enable a new business capability
- Address/close a business gap
Some examples include:
- BP global technology centers: http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/about-bp/bp-and-technology/our-approach/our-locations.html
- Chevron Technology Ventures: http://www.chevron.com/ctv/
Given the level of change and capital investment required to integrate these technologies into existing operations and ongoing projects, there’s a significant level of risk that comes with these initiatives. In addition, universities and research institutions spend the majority of time focusing on research and development of new technologies and concepts and not on practical structure or framework for integration of these new findings into day-to-day business operations. In order to increase the possibilities of success and maximize ROI, a consultative approach to technology selection entails:
- Identifying key stakeholders
- Establishing and aligning goals
- Determining strategic objectives and business case
- Determining the selection criteria and scoring
Let’s explore how a collaborative and engaging approach will help organizations identify the right technology to incorporate.
Identify Key Stakeholders
Successful organizations engage, solicit and constantly probe the right people for input, feedback and recommendations in an ongoing manner. These stakeholders work at all levels of the organization. Specifically, the recipients of any new capability are incremental in shaping the solution, from inception to post-mortem. Without the buy-in of key stakeholders, your initiative may be doomed from the start.
Establish and Align Goals
Goal-setting should be at the beginning of every strategy (which precedes selecting and integrating a new technology). In order to ensure that your strategy, or strategies, are working in a cohesive manner, business leaders must agree on what the ultimate goal is and ensure all individuals, at all levels, across the organization are informed and aligned with that goal. This is critical to identifying the correct strategies which, in turn, help to identify the right technologies/new concepts in which to incorporate into the business.
Determine Strategic Objectives and Business Case
We recommend, as an interactive starting point, to take key stakeholders through a SWOT analysis followed by a matching exercise. Everyone is aware of the SWOT analysis where individuals ‘bring to the table’ a list of Internal Strengths and Weaknesses and External Opportunities and Threats. However, not everyone is aware of the subsequent matching exercise which enables you to identify the “what next” with your SWOT. A matching analysis includes the following actions:
- Strengths are matched with Opportunities (Leverage)
- Weaknesses are matched with Opportunities (Constraints)
- Strengths are matched with Threats (Vulnerabilities)
- Threats are matched with Weaknesses (Problems)
Once an organization has identified their Leverage, Constraints, Vulnerabilities and Problems, they can take deliberate and calculated next steps to address each of those categories. In the case of Executing Technology Transfer the right way, they can use these criterion to set strategic objectives, drive the selection criteria, and ultimately select the right technology for their business. Not only will this exercise directly tie the technology to the business strategy, it will embed ownership, at the ground level of the organization, into the initiative. Your key stakeholders, who helped lay the groundwork, are more likely to develop a sense of stewardship as you progress.
Once the strategic objectives are established, the business case can provide the benefits commentary around acting on the goals and strategy. This can include ROI/Cash Flows, improvements in employee retention, efficiency gains, cost of not doing anything (i.e. opportunity costs), etc.
Determine the selection criteria and scoring
The strategic objectives previously defined in the SWOT and Matching Analysis feed directly into the selection criteria and prioritization (i.e. scoring) that will be used to assess and select the new technology under considered. This ensures that the selection criteria will continue to align with, and subsequently address, the overall goals and strategy of the organization or department.
The remaining steps, technology evaluation/selection and implementation can proceed in the method in which the organization executes on any given initiative. That can be a traditional project implementation method (such as waterfall or agile) or a custom methodology mandated internally. The key difference is the emphasis on collaboration and inclusiveness at all levels as well as enforcing the strategic thinking which will address the problems, challenges and opportunities that the organization faces.
North Highland is a full-service management consultancy that has changed the way the industry thinks about consulting. We can help your organization successfully drive the changes (people, process, technology) brought about by introducing new technologies into your business.