Digital Transformation Agility
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Digital Transformation Agility

Angela Lam, CIO Shell Australia,COG & Integrated Gas, Shell (NYSE: SHEL)
Angela Lam, CIO Shell Australia,COG & Integrated Gas, Shell (NYSE: SHEL)

Angela Lam, CIO Shell Australia,COG & Integrated Gas, Shell (NYSE: SHEL)

Powering Progress

Here at Shell, we have integrated our strategy, portfolio, environmental and social ambitions under the goals of our Powering Progress Strategy: generating shareholder value, achieving net-zero emissions, powering lives and respecting nature.

Executing our powering progress strategic aspiration is accelerated and enabled by digital, data and technology solutions.Digital technologies providing our Shell business with the opportunities to re-imagine how we work and operate our assets; drive cost efficiencies; define new business models; and provide new revenue opportunities as it redefines the energy industry.

To realise significant value faster, we need enabling platforms and capabilities; to build digital capabilities and digital literacy within our organisation; to become better at scaling up successful initiatives; to fail unsuccessful projects quicker; and create the mindset and behaviours that supports agile ways of working. Investing in digital is not an option; but essential to maintain or grow our value share in a rapidly digitalising world.


Underpinning our digital transformation agility are the following key digital design principles:

1. Customer is Central: Work backwards from the customer/user, focus on ‘problems worth solving’, not ‘technology first’. Align innovation and resource prioritisation based on value and customer/user needs.

2. Data is an Asset: Create trusted data sources and democratize data. Establish common data models. Business led data ownership, governance and quality management. Shell data is owned by Shell and customer data is treated as a critical asset.

3. Business drives Digital: Digital investment decisions are made by the business. Are based on deriving the highest value in solving business problems and customer frictions. Delivered by utilising global standard information and digital technology solutions and expertise; or local solution in collaboration with Shell IT leveraging standard platforms and frameworks e.g. Shell Do-It-Yourself (DIY) development environment.

4. Build In-house Capability: Build in house capabilities in areas core to Shell, partner selectively to learn and move at speed. Shell leaders to role model and build digital literacy. Access to online digital skills development for all staff.

5. Act our way into the Future: Experiment to prove value. Encourage local innovation but ensure alignment with global themes and integration into roadmaps. ‘Reinvention of the wheel’ is not tolerated. Where value is proven, replicate at speed.

Human Centred Design Thinking

Applying a human centred design thinking approach is key to digital transformation agility and ultimately business transformation. Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity (Tim Brown, IDEO). According to the Design Management Institute, design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by 219 percent over the last 10 years.

When we don’t design tools, products and services for our customers and employees to use, that align with their needs and solve their real problems, adoption is low

Human centred design matters to Shell as we often look at problems and opportunities from a technical or commercial point of view at Shell rather than a human one – it’s time to change that now. It is also a key driver in customer centricity, one our key digital design principles and central to realising Shell’s powering progress strategic aspirations. When we don’t design tools, products and services for our customers and employees to use, that align with their needs and solve their real problems, adoption is low.

Human centred design thinking is a vertical capability and one where we aspire not just to provide the tools but to enable people with the mindset and behaviours so that they can do their job differently. By taking this approach, design thinking tackles the ‘sweet spot’ where desirability (value proposition), viability (business case) and feasibility (technical capabilities) intersect.

Data & Technology

Digital transformation agility is all about data. Shell’s digital aspiration will require a dedicated focus on data, information accessibility and insights to support automation enabled processes and systems. We continue to increase our focus on how people within our assets use data and analytics to make faster, better decisions.

This relies on our ability to collect and store data, use advanced analytics and data science to create end to end solutions that leads to actionable insights which support decision making and value creation. Technologies such as IoT sensors, drones, robotics collect data in a timely fashion; Cloud offering to provide compute & capacity for AI, cloud enabled development and fast deployment; AI & Advanced analytics methods such as natural language processing, machine learning, real time digital twins to create end to end solutions; insights made actionable through digital augmentation technologies including 3D printing and virtual reality (VR).

For example, at Shell, end to end asset management is facilitated by remote assistance capability using smart helmets (RealWear HMT-1) to augment operations. The RealWear helmet has a high-performance HD camera and class leading noise cancelling microphones to enable mentors located anywhere in the world to see what the worker is seeing, hear them clearly and coach them in real-time. Shell has 200+ devices actively used within Shell across 50+ locations.

Business Drives Digital Value

Digital transformation agility is all about the business driving the pace of digital value delivery. The pace of change and value generation is led by the business, aligned to each asset’s digital ambitions, appetite for change and investment capability. Digitalisation is the responsibility of each line of business to determine highest business value opportunities to pursue and to lead the business process and people change management needed for successful adoption of digital solutions. Digital incubators will ensure the right entrepreneurial business and technical resources are in place to support new value initiatives.

Agile Ways of Working

We will use agile approaches to reengineer how we deliver digital transformation activities. Hybrid teams of data scientists, business professionals, engineers and traditional IT will deliver minimum viable products to test, adapt and scale up across Shell. Agile@Shell is an umbrella term representing the embedding of Agile and lean principles and practices across the Shell. The Agile@Shell umbrella includes our EDGE Agile project delivery, based on Scrum as the solution/software development lifecycle methodology, and DevOps for continuous delivery.

Agile ways of working are also applied to how we lead, learning and develop. We are creating the leadership, behaviours and mindset to support collaborative and iterative ways of working for digital with a fail fast/learn and scale quickly mindset. Apart from adopting a learner’s mindset, we are shifting our thinking way from project to towards product thinking. In turn this also shift our outlook towards service thinking - creating a holistic service or process that enables our products to maximise their value.

Digital Capability & Literacy

Shell is committed to developing digital capabilities that ensure our initiatives are customer centric, framed and designed for accelerated delivery. Our challenge remains to develop the right digital capability mix that ensures our projects and initiatives deliver better value to our users and require less rework than we have experienced in the past. Our is on critical digital capabilities including user experience, integration, software engineering, data science and cybersecurity. Additionally, increasing the overall digital literacy across Shell is key to achieving digital agility in our workforce including more employees who are upskilled that make the most of digital opportunities such as our Do It Yourself or citizen development, usually software.

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