Oil and Gas Employees Embracing Social Media: Microsoft/Accenture Study

January 2010 Vol. 237 No. 1

According to a study by Microsoft and Accenture released Jan. 21, nearly 75% of oil and gas professionals see value in using social media and collaboration tools at work — an 83 percent jump from responses in last year’s similar poll.

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However, firms are not embracing the technology at a corporate level. The Microsoft and Accenture Oil & Gas Collaboration Survey 2010, which surveyed 275 professionals within international, national and independent oil and gas and related companies, found that social media and collaboration technology adoption is primarily a grassroots phenomenon within firms. At the same time, half of those surveyed said their companies prohibit or restrict the use of many of these publicly available tools, such as photo-sharing and social networking sites.

Oil and gas employees stated that productivity gains (37%), work flexibility (95%) and the ability to complete projects on time and on budget (36% and 38%) are the primary reasons for use of social media and collaboration tools. However, companywide endorsement has not mirrored employee demand. The survey found that only 11 percent of social media adoption is driven by the executive suite, and higher-ups’ greatest concerns center around a “limited ability to control or provide a secure environment” (39 percent).

“With fewer resources overall and colleagues scattered across continents, it is no surprise that oil and gas professionals are increasingly turning to technology to connect and share information,” said Craig Hodges, general manager of U.S. Manufacturing and Resources at Microsoft. “However, we recognize that securing company data and intellectual property are obviously key company priorities, and there are many corporate collaboration technologies today that achieve both goals.”
“The survey shows that companies are not realizing the strategic benefits from their collaboration tools investments such as increased workforce performance, improved sharing of knowledge or skills across the work force,” said Craig Heiser, Accenture senior executive in the Energy industry group’s management practice. “To realize the full potential of collaboration investments, companies need to change work processes and individual roles while training their employees on how to achieve improved business performance through collaboration.”

Johan Krebbers, Group IT architect at Shell, confirmed the industry’s need for heightened work force collaboration.

“The challenge we have with exploration is that we have people positioned globally to explore for oil and gas,” Krebbers said. “Eighty percent of our teams are global teams, with members in multiple locations around the world. We must offer world-class collaboration capabilities so that our people can work at a global level.”

More information about the survey methodology and the full results are available at http://www.microsoft.com/oilandgas or http://www.accenture.com/Global/Services/By_Industry/Energy/R_and_I/MicrosoftAccentureOilSurvey2010.htm.