Many oil and gas companies are increasing their investment in IT to facilitate a more integrated and efficient operation platform, in conjunction with building a global collaborative environment. They view the cloud as a technology in line with making these goals a reality, according to a new survey by Accenture and Microsoft.

The survey of 200 professionals in international, national and independent oil and gas-related companies showed that 74% spent as much or more “focus and investment” on IT in 2011 as they did in 2010. Most of the respondents say they have plans in place to use cloud services in the future, while many have already adopted them.

Other trends include the increasing use of mobile computing devices in the workplace and the rise of big data. Today’s oil and gas IT professionals are focused on having quick and easy access to the volumes of data needed for informed oilfield decision-making, regardless of their location, according to Microsoft and Accenture.

Nearly half (43%) say they also anticipate lower costs due to streamlined operational workflows.

“We understand that those working in the oil and gas industry have data coming in from a variety of potentially disparate upstream sources, ranging from big data stored on servers to data coming in from a person in the field on a smartphone or tablet,” Albrecht Ferling, managing director for the global oil and gas and mining industries at Microsoft, said in a statement. “Being able to effectively process this information and act on it 24/7 regardless of location is a key priority for our customers.”

The survey results show that new drilling regulations have caused the industry to further increase its focus on risk reduction and heightened health, safety and environmental protections. Almost 75% of survey respondents agreed that the need for improved incident response has created the need for greater IT integration.

“An ongoing challenge for energy companies is the search for operational excellence,” Dean Forrester, senior director at Accenture’s energy industry group, said in a statement. “The results of the survey are evidence of this. Companies continue to pursue improved access to data and increased visibility of information and anticipate an increase in their use of technologies such as cloud and mobility in the coming year. We believe that these trends will support the continued drive toward optimizing production and mitigating risk.”



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