A Changing World – Digital Transformation


I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the annual GDA International Conference & Exhibition in Bahrain last month. The focus topics for the event were very much in keeping with the recent industry trends for new innovation and technology, integration, digitalisation, efficient energy, and plant/process improvements.

What pleased me the most about the conference, compared to others I have attended, was the genuine excitement the audience and speakers had for exploring new digital innovations and sharing how these have benefited real people within their organisations. Often at these events, you hear shameless pitches from salespeople trying to push their products or services, but this conference was different. The discussion was driven by enthusiastic thought leaders within the major downstream operators themselves, sharing the value that digital strategies have brought to their day-to-day lives – encouraging others to embrace the same technologies. This theme was evident throughout the week, and it is clear the GDA’s focus is on maintaining this level of knowledge sharing among its members for many years to come.

Suleman Al Bargan (Director of Refining & NGL Saudi Aramco) and Nabil Bourisli (CEO Kuwait Petroleum) further embraced this willingness to share in the closing ceremony speeches. They talked about past times in which they were in need of critical parts in their plants, and simply picked up the phone to one another for support. Without hesitation, they were able to share resources and allow access to their respective premises to retrieve the necessary parts to resolve their troubles. This history of collaboration speaks volumes for the success the region has achieved so far and will be a key factor moving forward as organisations continue to embrace new technologies and digitalisation strategies.

As mentioned in a number of presentations, digital transformation is not just about adopting new technology for the sake of it. To recognise the value it can bring in transforming your operations, digitalisation must enable new end-to-end business processes that produce positive business outcomes and differentiate an organisation from the rest. In my presentation, “Reaping the Rewards of Digital Transformation”, I shared a case study to emphasise the true return on investment leading organisations are able to achieve from the use of integrated platform solutions available in the market today.

Lastly, I would like to leave you with a recent quote I read from Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, which perfectly encapsulates the changing world I see today: “In the new world, it is not the big fish that eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”

Whether we like it or not, the world is moving fast into a digital arena. Sticking to old ways of working will almost certainly leave companies behind!

What are your thoughts on the digital transformation of industry? Join leading industry experts by participating in the 2018 Operational Excellence and Digital Transformation Survey. Your support will help shape the findings for this year’s report and help benchmark the year-on-year results which will be published and shared to the global industry. Thank you in advance!

DAVID ROSS is the Regional Manager for Middle East for Petrotechnics. He has been with the company for six years with progressive responsibilities in sales, professional services and projects with a particular focus on the Middle East and APAC.

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