One of the books that I read years ago when I did my MBA was Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore. The book describes the challenges to get products accepted by the early majority; this requires a different approach compared to selling products to innovators and early adopters.
The book has left a deep impression, and I’ve used the insights that the book gave me in the various technology deployment roles that I’ve had. However, a key learning that I got as well over the years: when it comes to getting technology deployed in the Oil & Energy business, it’s not so much ‘crossing the chasm’ that is the issue, but to get to the chasm in the first place.
Sustainably embedding technology into the business
In my last role in Shell, I set up a technology deployment drive in support of assets across the company. The main reason for starting this effort was the observation that many technologies got deployed once, but not replicated a 2nd or a 3rd time. In other words, they never went beyond the ‘innovators’ stage.
Over the years, we got better and better at getting technology deployed and accepted as a standard, and by the time I left Shell we had delivered >600 deployments, with very significant business impact as a result. In 2018, I co-founded TechnologyCatalogue.com, together with Vincent van Beusekom with whom I worked closely together in Shell. We now support the broader industry with technology deployment. We support suppliers with positioning technologies for success, and support Operators with getting the technologies deployed in their business.
The support we give to Operators includes increasing the effectiveness of technology deployment within their organisation. A starting point for assessing the effectiveness is by doing a Technology Deployment Health Check.
The input for the health check is generated through 10-30 structured interviews, with the number of interviews dependent on the size and complexity of the organisation.
The Health Check has eight themes, and for effective technology deployment delivery, it is essential to have a score of at least 3 against all eight themes. A score of 5 represents the score of companies that are best-in-class. The themes are briefly described below.
The eight themes of the Technology Deployment Health Check
Theme 1 assesses to what extent the organisation has a clear technology strategy, and whether the technology strategy is understood by the people in the organisation. Also, we assess whether the link between the technology strategy and the technology deployment activities is clear.
Theme 2 assesses the current technology deployment culture, and particularly the role that leadership plays to create and maintain such a culture. For example, in order to maximise the value for the company, it is important to create a culture whereby people are not only encouraged to be the first to deploy a technology, but also for being the second, third, etc.
The next theme assesses the technology deployment organisation. The way you are organised obviously depends on the size and complexity of your organisation, and we keep that in mind when we assess how you’re doing against this theme. However, whatever the size of the company, you do need one or more people that drive the roll-out of technology across your company; if you leave it up to people that are busy meeting daily production targets or meeting project milestones, technologies don’t get far.
In support of technology deployment activities, you need practical tools and processes. What process do you use as a company to select say 20 technologies to address business challenges or opportunities? And say you have 5 assets, how do you select the first 3-5 deployments that you want to get going out of the 20×5 choices? Without practical tools and processes to guide you, you run the risk to end up with a pile of reports instead of tangible deployments.
No matter what the size of your company is, the outside world is far bigger. Every day new products are introduced, and every day other companies get technologies deployed. An external focus is key, to know what is available, and to know about practices worth replicating. Through a set of structured questions, we assess how good the external focus of your company currently is.
For Theme 6, we assess the technical approval process within your company. How are decisions taken to approve the usage of technology and to eventually make it a standard practice?
The next theme explores the commercial incentives for suppliers to introduce technologies. Does it make commercial sense for them to come up with new practices (or would they not do this, as it reduces their current revenue stream)? Are suppliers actively encouraged, e.g. by making technology a standard item on the agenda of the meetings you have with them?
The final theme concerns target setting and status monitoring. For effective deployment, it is essential that people across the organisation have deployment targets on their scorecard, and that the status against the plan is effectively monitored. Where needed, actions can be taken based on the status against the plan.
Based on the health check, specific recommendations are given such that you meet the minimum requirements against all themes. By meeting the minimum requirements, your company is in a good position to get technologies deployed and sustainably embedded in the business (beyond the chasm!). If desired, we can also give recommendations of what would be needed to be top-quartile/best-in-class.
In addition to the above, we can support you with the implementation of the recommendations, e.g. by acting as an advisor to the CTO.
By taking the right steps, you can move technologies towards and beyond the ‘chasm’. It does, however, require a holistic view, considering a full range of aspects, as outlined in this blog. If you meet the minimum requirements on all themes, you have created the right environment for getting technology sustainably embedded into your business.
Would you like to learn more, or discuss further? Please contact Erik Nijveld at firstname.lastname@example.org