The Digital Imperative For Canadian Oil And Gas: Download New Report

Until a few years ago, the Canadian oil & gas industry enjoyed more than 100 years of relatively steady progress. A business built on a model that expected demand to increase in lockstep with global population growth was upset when worldwide production outstripped demand and environmental concerns delayed much-needed midstream infrastructure. Most recently, the global crisis has led to a catastrophic drop in prices. An industry that was already preparing for slower economic growth and rising trade tensions is suddenly finding itself in a fight for survival.

Canadian companies cannot afford to simply curtail production and slash capital spending and hope to exit the crisis healthy and competitive. The current circumstances open a window of opportunity for CIOs in the oil patch to continue advancing their digital transformation agendas to keep balance sheets healthy. By investing in digitization, oil & gas will be able to improve operational excellence and be more resilient against future disruptions.

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The IT Media Group (ITMG), which undertook this project with sponsorship from Salesforce Canada, used its extensive experience with the Canadian IT executive community in the preparation of this report. Our research included analysis of ITMG’s content repository and examination of every segment of the oil & gas industry. We determined the top business priorities for Canadian companies and focused on how they are using digital technologies to address them. We also provide insights and comments for realizing the benefits of digitization from interviews with oil & gas IT executives.


This study provides CIOs with examples of how their businesses can emerge stronger and more durable once the economy recovers. We explore use cases for how companies realize wins in these uncertain times. The narrative for this report takes the reader on a digital transformation journey that mirrors the oil & gas value chain. We transpose terminology from upstream, midstream, and downstream segments so that domain experts can internalize the approaches described herein. Each step of the voyage is actionable by any part of the industry.

Key findings

Our research revealed that the adoption of digital transformation in Canada is gaining momentum. All segments are embracing digitization to improve reliability, production, operations, maintenance activities, and customer engagement. An industry that once had a reputation for lagging others is quickly leapfrogging older technologies and moving directly to modern digital solutions. We documented more than 20 examples that describe how digital technologies are addressing Canadian business priorities. These examples provide support for 15 digital transformation approaches that CIOs are using to accelerate adoption within their organizations. These findings help make a case for continued and focused digital transformation in oil & gas.

While digital transformation delivers significant benefits, cybersecurity considerations loom over the enterprise. Businesses need to acknowledge that this is no different than other industries that have already been successful in digitization. Oil & gas CIOs can take advantage of dozens of mature cybersecurity offerings to protect their data and systems from malicious actors.

Advice for CIOs

The advancements in digital technologies are helping companies address their top priorities and challenges in the current economy. Successful CIOs will focus on business outcomes and assist their business peers in visualizing the digital effort, we have included a digital roadmap that summarizes the approaches that Canadian oil & gas companies are using to realize value from their investments in technology. The roadmap provides a logical sequence for transformation in the industry to help augment existing digital strategies. This study has endeavoured to offer practical advice for CIOs to help them satisfy current business priorities, while also keeping an eye to longer-term transformational objectives. It is our goal to promote conversations and spur action between employees, business units, and service providers to address the digital imperative for Canadian oil & gas.

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