Energy giant Shell is adapting the way it does business in order to capitalise on the Internet of Everything (IoE) trend.

The company claims to be the first in the oil and gas sector to innovate new technologies underpinned by the IoE.

Shell CIO Alan Matula said yesterday that innovation is in the company’s DNA. “We do things we’re very proud of and a first in the industry,” he said at Cisco Live in San Francisco. “We’re willing to try things others wouldn’t.”

Matula revealed that Shell realised the IoE was going to take off three to four years ago. At the time, the Dutch company set up a technology centre alongside its research and development (R&D) department that was designed to investigate how Shell could take advantage of the emerging concept.

“We push the technology advances as close as possible to the business outcomes we’re trying to drive,” he said, adding that this changed the IT landscape of the business significantly.

The relatively new shale gas phenomenon also caused Shell to reevaluate how it uses technology.

“In the old days...we’d go looking for reserves we’d go in there and drill a handful of wells and that was good enough. In the shale business we drill hundreds if not thousands of wells.

“That means scale is important, speed is important and quality is important.”

Cisco provides Shell with with real-time remote monitoring capabilities, where information at the drilling point can be sent instantly back to the office for analysis.

“We’re able to put automation at the edge and provide and automate the actual drilling that’s going on, accurately and at speed,” said Matula. “We have a limited resource space so we have command centres and central offices where we pipe all this information to and they’re able to actually control the drill bits.”

The IT boss explained remote command centres are used to quickly analyse drilling data and control drill bits on the rig with they help of IoE technology.

Shell’s relationship with Cisco has not always been a strong one. Matula told CEO John Chambers during the keynote presentation that two or three years ago he was struggling with Cisco technology.

“We don’t need sales and marketing,” he said. “We need technology people to help us understand Cisco technology and turn it into business outcomes and solutions which allow us to scale.”

Looking ahead to the next five years, Shell said it plans to focus more on automation, in addition to robotics, fog computing and telehealth.