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Digitalisation in the Energy Industry

Author: Marc Decorte


Digitalisation propelling energy innovation


By 2050, global energy demand will double with 9 billion people on the planet, up from just under 7 billion today, and more people will enjoy a modern, interconnected lifestyle. Even as the use of renewables rises, the world will continue to require more oil and gas whilst remaining supplies will be harder to find and produce. 


Shell believes advancements in technology and innovation will play a key role in delivering energy to society while realising an effective energy transition. Digitalisation - the use of digital technologies (into everyday life) to provide new revenue, new value opportunities and change business models[1] - is one of the key levers the energy industry has to increase productivity, and lower costs. The big challenge, simply put, for both societies and companies like Shell, is how to provide “much more energy and much less CO2”.


There is an increasing recognition in the industry that Digitalisation is accelerating, and starting to affect not only the consumer-facing business, but also the more traditional industrial manufacturing companies.


[1] Garter IT Glossary , 2013

Big Data & Algorithms will become the life blood of self learning machines

Digitalisation themes

To address these challenges in the industry from a digitalisation perspective, Shell believes there are seven area’s that have the potential to create the most value.

3D PRINTING 3D printing enables rapid prototyping for engineering designs as well as production of novel designs in a wide range of materials

ROBOTICS Robotics can address the ‘human exposure bottleneck’ by allowing staff to work at a safer distance while retaining or enhancing process integrity.

COMPUTATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES & HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING (HPC) Computational Technologies provides enhanced & optimised parallel algorithms to solve high-end computational challenges, supporting larger simulation capabilities.

BIG DATA & ANALYTICS The availability of vast amounts of data provides the opportunity to discover new business insights. 

WEARABLES & NEW REALITIES “Ultraportable” devices allow for advanced levels of contextual interaction and machine understanding of natural behaviour.

INTERNET OF THINGS & SENSORS Devices and machines are becoming increasingly interconnected, intelligent and sophisticated. This networking of connected devices has been dubbed the “Internet of Things”.

MOBILE Enabling employees to have better and more appropriate mobile access to corporate systems, data and information is a huge driver in organisational productivity. 

Finding and delivering more energy resources

To find what others cannot, we continue to drive development in subsurface technologies. GeoSigns, our Shell-developed subsurface interpretation software, allows us to visualize substantial amounts of processed seismic data and interpret that data in a more robust, integrated, and collaborative way – accurately locating hydrocarbon deposits faster and more cost efficiently than ever before.

Optimising production

Shell’s Smart Solutions approach helps us effectively apply new market-driven digital technologies across the value chain.  This integrated methodology helps us provide intelligent solutions that keep the finger on the pulse of our manufacturing complexes and offshore production fields. The objective is to continually enhance operational control in all areas of our business – from logistics, engineering and supply chain -- getting the right information to the right person at the right time to make effective business decisions.

Smart Connect uses prediction-based maintenance in plants like Pearl GTL to optimize performance. By finding potential problems early, we can prevent key assets from failing unexpectedly. This saves costs, and increases production and maintenance efficiency worth hundreds of millions a year.

Creating value for our customers and partners

As hyper connectivity becomes part of our daily lives, bridging cultures and social strata, Shell is using mobile technology to create new value for our partners and connect with retail customers and energy conscious citizens via mobile devices.

Take the retail side of Shell’s business[1] the biggest single-branded retail operation in the world

  • About 43,000 branded retail stations, more than 70 countries
  • Half a million front-line staff serving 25 million customers a day

Using intelligent systems, we can develop personalised mobility services for our customers. What is in it for the customer?

A (Shell) study found the top priority for retail customers[1] is convenience

  • Consumers have different expectations for different kinds of retail: when buying fuel, they are prepared to spend only 5 minutes or less
  • The products and service must also be good, or customers will go elsewhere

Personalised mobility services help customers get what they want from us. Via mobile channels, such as our award-winning Motorist app, drivers have access to a world of Shell offers and functionality.  

Recent addition to this service means the vast majority of our 1,000 UK fuel outlets will allow app users to select a petrol pump, fill up, and get a receipt on their phone when fuelling is complete they can even pay through PayPal.

The Motorist app is powered by a real-time customer data analytics engine that allows to send personalised contextual offers to our customers to enrich their experience on site.

The aim of the project was: 

  • To deliver a superior customer experience, in a personalised and a digital way
  • To deliver more cash, through more frequent and targeted interactions driving customers to spend more or visit more.
  • To have a customer centric culture and to learn much more about our customers. 

The team built an integrated marketing solution, with a significant amount of deep dive analytics capability, to get data points from customer interactions with Shell. The solution combined data from traditional CRM sources as well as multichannel social media to provide a holistic view of our customers. This view helps the business to make even smarter decisions, and drive more integrated campaigns. 


1- Digitialisation is one of the key levers the energy industry has to increase productivity and lower costs
2- Creating value through big data is an essential part of the energy transformation
3- Big Data & Algorithms will become the life blood of self learning machines 




[1] Source: “Beyond the 5 minute economy”, link available at










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