Brace for impact: Adapting to a digitally disruptive world


People deal with unexpected changes every day — a traffic jam, a sick child, a flat tire. Change also shows up at work in the form of a last minute presentation, a conference room change or an unexpected meeting. Individuals decide not only how they will respond to change, but also what their attitude will be, whether resistant, hesitant or accepting.

ConocoPhillips has seen its share of change. From the 2012 repositioning to recent rightsizing for industry volatility, change is here to stay.

Perhaps nowhere is change more on display than in the field of technology. Evolving more rapidly than ever, technology is transforming the way people access and process information at home, in the office and on the go.

Christy Clark holding books
Christy Clark, director of Digital Workplace

“We’re all accustomed to changing technology in our personal lives, without the conscious effort of adoption,” said Christy Clark, director, Digital Workplace. “Just a few years ago I couldn’t change the TV channel with my voice or activate my alarm system from my cell phone. Today, I can. As consumers, we tolerate — and even expect — constant change. We adapt because we want to be able to do those things that technology enables. That’s the kind of attitude we want to foster at work.”

Survival in the business world depends on adopting technology. That’s especially true in the energy industry, where technology and innovation can significantly lower cost of supply and set a company apart from its peers.

"Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." – George Bernard ShawAt ConocoPhillips, an important shift is underway — one that will position the company to succeed in a changing world.

This technological shift is part of the journey toward becoming a more advanced digital enterprise. By integrating information, processes, work and people, the organization can collaborate more effectively.

The journey began with the introduction of Office 365 as the company’s new productivity platform. Office 365 brought new tools and new ways of working. This cloud-based approach lays the foundation for future innovations.

Other important changes are also underway, such as a modernized fleet of hardware and a company-wide upgrade to the Windows 10 operating system.

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Mike Pfister, chief information officer

“Technology is reshaping the world at a breakneck pace,” said Mike Pfister, chief information officer. “As a company, and as individuals, we can’t afford to lag behind. We need to keep pace to remain competitive.”

Strengthening as a digital enterprise also prepares the company to take advantage of emerging technologies such as virtual reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We’re already seeing several ways artificial intelligence is being used to gain insights in the oil and gas business, and we can expect more to come,” said Pfister.

Core business processes are changing. In 2018, Information Technology (IT) and Finance will test the use of robots for select routine processes, freeing up people to focus on higher-value efforts.

"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it." – Lout HoltzWhile digital disruption can prove challenging for some, workers who readily accept and adapt to rapid change are more nimble, flexible and prepared to embrace the advantages innovation brings.

“With technology advancing so fast, it’s hard to predict what’s next, which makes it even more important to be prepared,” said Pfister. “With a digitized productivity platform and a workforce that can rapidly adapt to new technology, we’ll be ready for the exciting innovations to come.”

New hardware is so … refreshing

With an average age of over five years, the company’s fleet of more than 20,000 PCs was due for an upgrade. 

In early 2017, IT began to refresh hardware, replacing company computers from oldest to newest. The goal for 2018 is to upgrade or replace some 19,000 machines running Windows 7. All new PCs will have Windows 10 preinstalled.

"Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." – John F. KennedyRecipients of the new computers experience exciting improvements such as additional memory, larger hard drives, faster processors, extended battery life and even touchscreen capabilities. Additionally, the laptops come with a simplified docking station that connects all monitors and other peripherals through a single connection.

Hardware standardization also ensures consistent, high-quality IT support.

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Kathy Brant, supervisor, Service Desk

“We strive to help our customers get what they need when they need it,” said Kathy Brant, supervisor, Service Desk. “When we are working with a consistent set of variables, troubleshooting and supporting hardware and software issues is simplified. This lets us spend more time focusing on delivering superior customer service and less time trying to learn the nuances of different configurations.”

It’s easy to see how standardizing will create efficiencies, making office moves easier and simplifying large-scale organizational moves like the headquarters relocation to Energy Center 4. Having a consistent hardware platform lowers the complexity of these efforts, enabling faster moves using fewer resources.

“Putting modern machines in the hands of our workforce is gratifying, because we know how invigorating it can be to have a new computer,” said Jeff Engman, director, Client Computing. “Coupling the hardware refresh with the Windows 10 upgrade equips us with the latest tools and capabilities to help us work at the top of our game.”

1 … 2 …  Windows 10

Engman and Holson holding computers
FROM LEFT: Jeff Engman, director, Client Computing and Steve Holson, senior analyst, Client Computing

Rapidly making its way across the organization, Microsoft’s newest operating system brings a host of new productivity features: faster startup times, increased security and customizable features.

But perhaps the biggest change with Windows 10 is the way it introduces change.

In the past, updating the operating system on company PCs was a large-scale effort — so big it could only occur every few years. Updates were protracted, expensive and could be disruptive.

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Jim Stanley, supervisor, Global Desktop & Print Management

Windows 10 offers a new strategy that delivers more-frequent but significantly smaller updates. These updates will generally offer bug fixes, security enhancements and other minor changes that may even go unnoticed. Additionally, twice a year, Microsoft will release two larger “feature updates” that will offer additional enhancements.

“Feature updates are part of keeping Windows 10 fresh,” said Jim Stanley, supervisor, Global Desktop & Print Management. “It’s important that we embrace this change and prepare for it. Everyone in the company is encouraged to join one of the pilot testing groups.”

These more frequent, incremental updates should make it easier for people new to Windows 10 to adjust to the changes.

“Windows 10 brings exciting new capabilities and features, and this will continue over time. This keeps our colleagues on the latest technology,” said Steve Holson, senior analyst, Client Computing. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Cloudy with a chance of updates

No discussion about technology change would be complete without the benefits cloud technology brings.

Beginning in 2014, Office 365 made its debut across the company.

With Office 365, updates come faster. This approach comes by way of the cloud, which enables the rapid delivery of new features and capabilities. Just like Windows 10, the days of large-scale upgrades are gone. Here to stay are small, bite-sized installments that allow workers to stay current without major upheaval.

These changes bring big productivity enhancements. Files can be shared rather than attached, ensuring that everyone is working on the same file.

“When a person works on a document, it’s a very personal thing,” said Clark. “That individual has a certain way of doing things — where to save files, how to send a file and even how to collaborate with coworkers. Office 365 introduces a new way of working and requires some changes in service to ensure a more productive future.”

There are many new ways to work with Office 365. For example, collaborating with coworkers isn’t just sending group emails anymore; it could be utilizing an Outlook group, Microsoft team, Skype chat, Delve search or Yammer group. Office 365 delivers a level of self-service that may take some time to fully understand, adapt to and embrace.

“Not everyone is going to use every tool or feature, but we’re trying to help people understand the possibilities that Office 365 brings,” said Clark. “We will all use some core applications, but with others it will be more cafeteria style, where people choose the applications and services that are useful to them.”

Through training, ongoing engagement with the business units and its Fueling Productivity newsletter, the Digital Workplace team is guiding the organization through this technological evolution.

“We can introduce any number of tools, but if no one understands or is willing to accept them, we miss out on a higher level of productivity and effectiveness,” said Clark. “That’s why it’s critical that change management is happening, helping people understand the technology and how to use it to improve the way they work.”

About the authors

Sanders headshot

BRIAN SANDERS has been with ConocoPhillips since March 2013. His career has taken him from a network specialist on the Knowledge Sharing team to his current position of business analyst on the Digital Workplace Knowledge Sharing team. Brian graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. He enjoys running, writing and traveling with his family.

Connor headshot

KOLE CONNOR joined ConocoPhillips in 2010 as an intern. Currently analyst, Digital Worplace, he has held numerous organizational change management roles for Information Technology (IT) teams, including Windows 7, Windows 10, Mobility and, currently, Digital Workplace and Office 365. Kole enjoys putting his creative and design skills to the test on projects such as the Windows 7 and Windows 10 login screen backgrounds, seen on all company computers; the Win10, iPhone 7 and O365 Success Center SharePoint sites; and the 2014 and 2015 Innovation Challenge marketing videos and posters. Kole is passionate about learning, creativity and humor, striving to incorporate each into his work every day.