Across the world, energy companies are facing disruption from a changing energy mix and rapid advances in technology. These irresistible forces mean they need to transition into a new and different kind of company, while continuing to generate profits and returns for investors. PwC and Shell are collaborating to showcase SAP's suite of Intelligent Enterprise solutions that will enable energy companies to achieve this transformation at maximum speed and minimum cost and risk.
We at PwC have worked with Shell for many years, supporting innovation and efficiency across many areas of its business. However, the joint project we’re undertaking now is our most ground-breaking yet. Together, we’re creating a fully working demonstration model of the energy company of the future, built around a digital core founded on SAP’s public cloud platform.
The project was initially inspired by Shell’s IT platform strategy, which has SAP at its heart. Shell is looking to use S4/HANA Cloud to enable it to consume innovation much more quickly, by leveraging the quarterly updates that are much smaller in size but more frequent.
For Shell, one of the most ground-breaking aspects of this strategy is the move to public cloud. Shell’s aim is to de facto “outsource” a lot of the services that it currently handles internally, but where it can see that SAP could achieve economies of scale that Shell – despite its size – wouldn’t be able to achieve on its own. To support this goal, Shell was eager to work with others to create an environment that would not be Shell-specific, but a market standard for the entire industry.
By doing this, Shell could see it would be able to shape its own future and gain a strategic advantage. To help realise this vision, it turned to PwC – a choice that reflected PwC’s intimate knowledge of Shell’s business, renowned expertise in business transformation and technology innovation, and deep SAP understanding and experience.
The PwC team hit the ground running, beginning by gaining a clear view of the client’s needs. And we quickly came up with a novel and innovative way to meet them. First, we would buy and configure the SAP cloud solution ourselves. Second, we would use that solution to create a “demo” energy company that would bring to life the full power and benefits of SAP in the public cloud.
We set to work in close collaboration with Shell and SAP, combining our own technology innovation and business insights with technical expertise from SAP and input from Shell’s IT, Finance and user communities. Within three months, after three rapid development “sprints”, the demo company was up and running: an intelligent enterprise in the cloud – containing every aspect of a modern energy business, and utilising technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics to optimise its delivery of products and services to customers.
To maximise Shell’s engagement, we wanted to give the new company a personality that would resonate. So “Maverick NextGen Energies Inc” was born, an unconventional US-based energy producer. We supplemented this personality with creative concepts such as a “day-in-the-life” animation. And we used feedback from Shell to fine-tune Maverick, ensuring it would address the client’s opportunities and pain-points.
When Maverick was ready, we began to show it to people in various areas of Shell. In a series of “aha!” moments, client personnel immediately spotted the benefits and human insights available from this technology. For example, they highlighted how it could replace legacy manual processes, boost speed, enhance collaboration, enable “in-context” discussions through social media-type interactions, transform internal controls from after-the-event to real-time, and provide consumer-grade user interfaces and experiences. In short, they could see the dawning of a new world of IT – one whose effects would be revolutionary and deliver clear competitive advantage.
So far, so good – for Shell. But this project had further to run. Much further. Shell is keen for the cloud solutions it uses to be industry-standard. So it wanted us to show Maverick to other energy businesses ranging from global majors to mid-cap players, and crowd-source their perspectives to improve it still further and broaden its appeal. Working with SAP, this is what we’re now doing, through a series of meetings with other potential users.
Based on the positive responses to Maverick to date, we believe we’ve designed the lean, agile, digitally-powered energy company of the future. The SAP public cloud solution provides the digital core around which this future demo company will continue to grow and innovate. And through the cloud platform it gains access to a large ecosystem of innovative developers whose products integrate with SAP’s.
That said, Maverick’s most transformational impacts may not be around technology – but in changing people’s perceptions of what’s possible. It’s now at the heart of massive change in management process, as people across the energy industry get to see for themselves both what Cloud is and the benefits it can provide. That’s why they’re so excited by Maverick. And why we at PwC are every bit as excited as they are.