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The importance of culture change for successful digital transformation – interview with ENI

GO DIGITAL ENERGY

The importance of culture change for successful digital transformation – interview with ENI

There are plenty of oil & gas industry surveys highlighting the importance of culture change for successful digital transformation. When speaking with Giacomo Silvestri, Group Digital Strategy, Innovation & Portfolio Management at ENI, he highlighted the importance of change management for the successful transformation of the company. We had a chat with Elisabetta Purlalli , Head of Change Management at Eni, to discuss how the company is transforming its culture in the light of digitalization.

Could you explain what you are currently working on at ENI?

The main focus of the digital unit that I’m leading is to foster the change in the organization. The company introduced this unit because our CEO believes that there is a need for mindset change to fully capture digitalization moment. In a team of 6 women, we are working with every unit of the organization to raise awareness on the many opportunities digitalization can offer. We hire digital experts (data scientists, digital natives) that are doing a very good job not only as employees but also as drivers of change. They introduce a different way of doing things within the teams that have a lot of competencies with respect to the oil and gas industry and knowledge of the business, but, let’s say, an old style of doing things. Adding these new digital experts goes hand in hand with new agile ways of working. We gather teams so that digital natives and experienced industry professionals are sitting together and trying to tackle problems from new angles.

How do you measure the success of your initiatives?

Of course, we have a series of instruments for that. We start with common instruments, like surveys, where we measure the temperature of the company prior to the initiative and then all along, every three months, we measure the progress. If we understand that it’s not working, we have to modify the approach. To get more profound feedback, we also gather small and large meetings, where people are encouraged to talk knowing that they will not be measured or judged when they speak.

Do you have any difficulties attracting digital natives?

It’s not a big issue for us – in the last 6 month, we hired more than 20 data scientists. From our experience, new digital natives coming in the company are largely interested in diversification of work and mobility. So we are working on integrating them all along the value chain and providing them opportunities to change roles. They can start with analyzing data of the reservoir, and then change to study communication data for example. Data is the base and they can easily move between business functions and countries. Once we hire digital natives, we give them all the possible opportunities and upgrades to their role to keep them motivated.

How are your experienced employees adapting to change?

For sure there was some reluctance when the first data scientists were coming in. But they are very flexible and eager to learn. They spend a lot of time with operating people to learn and understand the processes to make the right model. In this way, our experienced employees understand that they are doing something beneficial for the company. In reality, there is such a willingness to change in some cases. No matter what generation, some people are very much interested and curious, and it has a regenerating effect on them.

What is the key trait of successful digital transformation leader in oil & gas?

I would say that it is inclusion, in a sense of reversing a structural pyramid and giving it a different shape. Everybody has something to say and everybody’s contribution is important for digital transformation. So it’s important to develop an inclusive culture where people are motivated to say what can be improved. As a leader, you have to set an example, something that employees can learn from.

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