Today Microsoft and Accenture issued a press release announcing the results of its annual upstream sector survey. This year’s survey included several interesting insights, but the overall theme was clear: Oil & Gas companies are upping IT investments to generate operational efficiency and excellence.

For instance:

  • Oil and Gas professionals are focused on using IT to create a more integrated and efficient upstream environment. Nearly half of participants (43 percent) say they anticipate lower costs due to resulting streamlined operational workflows. 
  • Spending on IT is increasing: In 2011, 74.5 percent of respondents spent as much or more “focus and investment” on IT versus 2010.
  • A continued emphasis on operational excellence is a pervasive theme, particularly as it pertains to new drilling regulations in the industry. New drilling regulations have led to an increased focus risk reduction (71 percent), heightened health, safety and environmental protection (68 percent), and managing slower processes due to more regulations (61 percent).
  • Cloud computing continues its rapid momentum within IT organizations. We’re seeing the fastest uptake in Databases (72.7 percent full product solution or development/test purposes) and Workflow solutions (72.9 percent full product solution or development/test purposes).

Another key finding we’re particularly pleased to see is more and more O&G IT people are becoming aware of Microsoft’s Upstream Reference Architecture (MURA). We created MURA after extensive discussions with our upstream partners and customers, who sought tailored, prescriptive guidance on better and more efficient IT operations. They wanted to implement IT solutions more quickly, and with less hassle, so they could more strategically commit resources (finding new revenue streams, gaining competitive advantages and growing their businesses). Already more than 22% of respondents are aware of MURA.

For others, MURA describes a set of foundational “pillars,” or principles that govern an architecture structure. It describes how the upstream sector can create:

  • Performance-oriented IT infrastructures
  • Enhanced user experiences
  • Optimized domain-specific infrastructures
  • Rich application platforms
  • Comprehensive interoperability

This descriptive approach provides an agreed-upon set of principles to establish consistent performance, while also allowing for flexibility that companies need to innovate and establish competitive differences.

More succinctly, O&G companies need IT systems to be more responsive to business needs. MURA creates the foundation for them to do this.

We encourage you to check out today’s press release to better understand the needs of upstream IT departments, and the MURA for Microsoft’s guidance on how to address their needs.