In our previous post we discussed the importance of an easy-to-access catalogue. Making the technology visible is one thing, but how can you assess the likelihood that the technology gets adopted by the Oil & Gas industry (or industries of similar nature)? The Technology Stress Test provides answers. Technology Suppliers can use the Stress Test to position their technologies. Oil & Gas companies can use it to perform health checks of their technology portfolio. Investors can use it to assess the health of their investment portfolio.
The Technology Stress Test (see one-pager) is based on 20+ years of technology deployment experience in the Oil & Gas industry but can be applied in almost all B2B applications. The criteria composing the Stress Test formed the basis for >600 successful deployments in recent years, resulting in >$1 billion net cash.
If a technology has already been used multiple times – supported by reviews from users and experts – there is less need for a detailed assessment. But particularly when the technology is in early stages of development or deployment, the Stress Test gives insights of what is needed to get the technology going.
The Technology Stress Test is performed through structured dialogue around ~30 criteria grouped under 7 themes. Based on the outcome of the Stress Test, specific actions can be taken to increase the chances of success. The outcome is summarised on a ‘plan on a page’ that can be used for your engagements with internal and external stakeholders.
Passing the Technology Stress Test is a prerequisite for successful deployment, but not sufficient. We will give an overview of other critical success factors in blogs published over the coming weeks. A detailed discussion of all critical success factors is covered as part of a 2-day learning programme. The next programme is scheduled 26-27 June, Delft, Netherlands. The programme will also be delivered in Kuala Lumpur, Aberdeen and Houston this year, with specific dates to be announced.
So, what are the 7 themes that make up the Technology Stress Test? Let’s discuss them, one by one. Do you have questions after reading this article? Do you want to learn more? Would you like one or more technologies in your portfolio to be assessed? Please contact us at either email@example.com (for suppliers) or firstname.lastname@example.org (oil & gas companies, investors, consultancy firms).
A: Business Impact. The first theme may sound trivial and easy, but actually it is not. It is important to make a realistic assessment of the absolute impact, and it also needs to be put in perspective and compared to other things that a business can do to improve performance. At the end, the impact as a result of the deployment needs to excite the person you’re talking to. If it doesn’t, the technology is either not interesting enough, or you’re targeting the wrong person.
B: Business Impact Dimensions. The best technologies are those that reduce cost AND increase production AND reduce safety/environmental exposure. If technology scores negative against one of those elements, then you can be sure that you will encounter resistance: from the people who own the target or performance indicator that is negatively impacted. It essentially means that you need to target a person one or more levels higher in the organisation, the person that owns all relevant targets. And there are various other subtle aspects related to Theme B that need to be taken into account. Determining the person to whom you need to sell the idea is largely driven by B, in combination with A.
C: Risk & Reward balance. There are many examples of technologies where one part of the organisation gets the rewards, while another runs the risk. Or technologies that help the operator and eat into the profit of suppliers. The more a-symmetric the risk/reward profile, the more resistance you can experience. The best technologies are truly win-win for all parties involved. If it is not, then it is at least important to be fully aware, such that you can address the imbalance properly. We can help you with specific suggestions based on our experience.
D: Change Management requirements. Under this theme, technology is assessed against 5 specific change management aspects that are very relevant for getting technology deployed. The more complex the change is, the more change management that is required. The less change needed, the smoother the deployment will go.
E. Ease or replication. It is often said that the Oil & Gas business is conservative, and there is a degree of truth it in. In all fairness though, it is understandable that people don’t want to unnecessarily experiment with new approaches to put humans, production, environment, reputation or careers at risk. The same way that we wouldn’t allow a stranger to experiment with the rooftop or the water piping system of our own house. The quickest wins can be realised by replicating technology successfully used by others. And usually the ‘closer’ the other user, the more convincing the deployment reference will be.
F. Technical do-ability. The themes discussed so far were mostly non-technical. It is indeed our experience that for successful technology deployment, technical facts are not sufficient. Particularly a deep understanding of human behaviour is critical. But obviously the technology has to be technically sound, approved by the relevant authorities, and in line with local rules & regulations. These aspects are covered under this theme.
G. Last, but certainly not least: Contracting & Procurement. If there is not yet a contract in place with the supplier of the technology, then C&P aspects are often on the critical path. Hence important to make C&P part of the team from day one. Under this theme, a structured dialogue takes place around 5 specific C&P related questions that can help you to introduce the technology in the most optimal way.
Once the assessment against the 7 themes is done, the scores can be translated into a simple Impact versus Do-ability chart. The structured dialogue around the 7 themes will offer specific suggestions what can be done to increase Impact/Do-ability, and thereby increasing the likelihood that the technology will be adopted by the business.
Now what if your technology failed the Stress Test, despite specific actions to increase the Impact/Do-ability? Will my technology have no chance? Not necessarily. However, it usually does mean that you first need to build trust, by delivering value through technologies that do pass the test. And if you don’t have such technologies in your own portfolio, then it is important to be part of a ‘bundle’ with technologies from other suppliers. We can help you with such bundle.
It is like in daily life. I was among the first people in The Netherlands who could control his heating system at home from his IPad. How did I end up with this solution? I live in an old house, built in 1892. When I bought it, it required renovation. One of my contractors renovated the roof, the bathroom, he installed a new central heating system, and multiple other things. He did a great job. He then asked me whether I was willing to trial a new type of control for the heating. The advantage would be that I could control the heating system from any location, via an App. The potential advantage would also be that any troubleshooting could be done by the service provider, by establishing a link with the heating system from his office. I was actually OK with the old system, and I didn’t consider it critical to do something different. But I trusted the provider, and he had done a great job. With this, I said YES. Now what had been the chance that I would have gone for this solution in case a stranger would have knocked on my door? Exactly 0. The provider of this novel control system appreciated this, and therefore he didn’t approach customers directly, but through the contractor as part of a bundle of solutions that add value right away.
Of course, there are exceptions. If a technology is a true enabler for a problem, then users are receptive. And in some companies, there may be a culture where technology is simply mandated. In most cases though, people will respond to technology in line with the Technology Stress Test, which is actually very much based on the way we respond to doing things differently in daily life. The Technology Stress Test helps to give the insights such that the right actions can be taken to maximise your chances of success.
Once your technology passed the Stress Test, will it be adopted automatically? Passing the Technology Stress Test is a prerequisite for successful deployment, but not sufficient. We have defined 10 other critical success factors for successful deployment. As indicated, these will be discussed in detail during the 2-day learning programme and can also be discussed in detail during consultancy and coaching sessions.