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This story features in Unearthed: The power of connection

Better communication leads to more informed and successful decisions, and digital transformation is key to making that happen. Yet companies still struggle when making the digital switch and sometimes even seem to resist it.

We speak to Uwa Airhiavbere, a Managing Director within Microsoft’s Worldwide Energy Industry Practice, on why that’s the case and how to get internal buy in for the digital shift.

Resisting technology is now more work than embracing it. We’re all connecting remotely, processing huge data sets, and communicating with wider groups of stakeholders. So, what’s holding companies back? One thing is perception.

Tasks that might have taken hours or days can now be done in minutes. But, it’s not only about higher speed – it’s about higher quality. “There’s also the idea of making higher quality decisions, because compute power is now broader and more scalable. Especially when you’re using a hyperscale Cloud like Azure,” says Uwa Airhiavbere.

The impressive successes of early adopters have proven that switching to digital technology is more productive, lucrative, and leads to more informed decisions. Yet, there’s still resistance. How can you get the internal
buy-in you need for new tech to succeed? Uwa partners with corporate leaders and teams across the energy and mining industries to implement digital tools. He shares what can make or break a digital revolution.

We call it tech intensity, the ability to bring technology into
the company, adopt that technology very quickly, and then use that technology to drive value in the company.

Focus: Find high value projects that get quick wins

“Pick the outcome where you think digital transformation can drive the most change,” says Uwa.

“Because there are also people in the organisation who might be skeptical about digital transition. They need to see a quick success, and it helps to really drive change across the organisation.” Select areas where people start experiencing the benefits right away. If new technology saves them time and makes their jobs easier, employees will become your biggest digital adopters.

Then, when their results show in progress reports, new discoveries, or your company budget, you’ll gain support from the wider company.
“Seequent Central is a good example of technology that can be brought into the organisation and ramped up pretty quickly. And then, used to drive value immediately in the company,” says Uwa.

Central allows teams to collaborate on building geoscience models, iterate ideas rapidly, version control files, share web visualisations, and access a single source of truth for their projects.

Erasing years of frustration searching for current files is a process win that’ll be felt instantly. “We call it tech intensity, the ability to bring technology into the company, adopt that technology very quickly, and then use that technology to drive value in the company.” The more powerful the impact, the more buy-in you’ll receive – so focus on a big win area.

Think from the beginning

While you should pinpoint a high value area at first, don’t stop there. Consider how the same new tools can be implemented widely right from the start. “Don’t think of it like a little siloed project,” says Uwa.

“Companies get stuck in this phase where they’re doing a lot of pilots, but they’re all siloed and it’s not possible to bring the value from all the pilots together.” You need to keep the momentum going to get the most value from new technology. Make sure you have a plan that rolls out the tools across teams or processes so that more people can experience the benefits.

“Think of it broadly. Like, ‘I’m trying to reduce costs broadly across this department or this division,’ and take on initiatives that actually help to do that. Then, it’s scalable.”

A major advantage of digital tools is their flexibility to be applied across both departments and tasks. Take advantage of cascading wins by planning for them from the start.

Make digital your competitive advantage

Besides your own time, cost, and frustration saved, consider how new digital tools and processes could also appeal or be sold to prospective clients or stakeholders.

“Think of areas where the company thrives,” suggests Uwa.

“Maybe there’s a process you have used internally. Can you actually leverage that technology to now create a new solution that can generate revenue for your company?”

Ask: Can technology you already use benefit others outside your team or company? Whether it’s winning new clients, assuring regulators, or creating new services and revenue streams – imagine how your new technology can become a differentiator.

Infuse digital from the top down

Technology isn’t a standalone item, it’s a part of doing business. Digital needs to be at your company’s core to reflect that.

Leadership needs to strongly support technology initiatives. The good news is: It’s now much harder to argue with the necessity and results of digital tools in the last decade.

What can leaders do to ensure the transformation doesn’t stop with them? “Whatever the mission of the company is or the goals of the company – infuse digital at the most basic level,” says Uwa.

When technology is embedded in your corporate mission, it will then be part of every initiative, team, and decision going forward.

Finally, find trusted advisors

Don’t go it alone. You aren’t the first to struggle with getting buy-in or onboarding people to a new way of working.

The best technology providers focus on understanding each company’s needs – so they can find ways to support them. They have deep knowledge of potential regional and industry specific challenges.

“Companies like Seequent and Microsoft can help to figure out what those challenges are and meet our customers halfway to help them accelerate their digital transformation journey,” says Uwa.

Can you make data more accessible while ensuring you meet local legal regulations? Do you need to upskill workers to get value from new technology?

Reach out to trusted tech companies for their advice They’ve likely helped others overcome similar barriers and, after all, their success is based on your success – they want you to thrive.

“When you align to industry outcomes, it’s quite powerful,” says Uwa.

Digital transformation isn’t new, it’s already part of your work. The only question is: How can you make the most of it?


Uwa Airhiavbere
Managing Director, Microsoft’s Worldwide Energy Industry Practice

Watch Uwa’s Lyceum 2020 keynote presentation

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