Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Repsol, one of the main Spanish multinationals, faces various challenges related to digital transformation. We interviewed Juan Manuel García, CIO and CDO of the company who tells what the main challenges are.

Interview with Juan Manuel García CIO and CDO of Repsol

What is day-to-day like in the ICT department of a multinational like Repsol?In recent years we have witnessed a paradigm shift: the Information Technology (IT) area has gone from being a business support area to becoming a key player in the digital transformation of the entire company. In the IT and Digital area, we manage the transversal vision of the entire Repsol Digital Program and we do so by carrying out comprehensive planning of the portfolio according to business priorities and the availability of teams, budget monitoring and comprehensive staffing management. For each of the businesses and for the corporation we have different managers who have a global and strategic vision and are capable of identifying the technological needs of the business in the future. Our day-to-day work also includes guaranteeing the operation, availability and efficiency of the services we provide worldwide, from the maintenance and evolution of the necessary applications, platforms and infrastructures in the company, to customer service.Repsol operates on different fronts, from resource extraction to customer service, through logistics or the supply and control of gas stations, service stations… In addition, it operates in different countries. How can the ICT demands of each of the sectors be met? in which it operates?We understand that technology must be at the service of the different areas that make up Repsol. The success of our digital transformation has been possible thanks to an operating model that empowers businesses to lead their own digitalization. From IT and Digital, our role is to be an enabler, that is, we put technology at their service, but they are the ones in charge of digital initiatives. There is a fundamental aspect and that is to make the different businesses and corporate areas see where the value of digitizing your processes resides. Thus, quantifying the economic impact is very important. Our objective is to be able to test the potential of many ideas and initiatives quickly and with low investment and thus ensure that the vast majority of our investment is allocated to those initiatives whose success is most assured.Are the IT needs of each of the divisions in which Repsol operates very different? What is the most complex of all?Since the Repsol Digital Program was launched five years ago, we have deployed digital initiatives throughout our entire value chain, always attending to the needs of all our businesses equally and with the aim of generating value. We currently have more than 400 initiatives underway. In the Exploration & Production area, technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence (AI) help our teams to reduce uncertainty as much as possible, improve margins and be more efficient, reducing time drilling and increasing production. If we focus on the Industrial part of the company, digital technologies are contributing to the transformation of our industrial centers towards more autonomous, predictable, efficient and sustainable plants. As for our clients, we have identified a change in their profile for some time, more digital, much more demanding and increasingly committed to climate issues, which also expects us to offer high levels of personalization in its relationship with Repsol. We evolve with them and with a customer centric and multi-energy approach, we provide them with digital solutions for both mobility and their homes. Digitization also plays an essential role for the corporation when it comes to simplifying operations and automating processes, and is a key element in new ways of working, contributing to the deployment of new collaborative environments, spaces and technologies in the “cloud”.If you had to highlight one of the digital transformation processes in which the IT department has been involved, which one would you highlight? What has it consisted of?At Repsol we set ourselves the goal of being a “data driven” company. We have worked with great enthusiasm, intensity and dedication on initiatives that make it easier for us to follow this path and in the last four years we have made great progress. We have gone from running pilots and proofs of concept to scaling the use of AI and data to all businesses. Of the more than 400 digital initiatives underway, there are more than 200 cases of application of this technology. There are three key aspects that have enabled us on this path. One of them has been the deployment of our ARiA data platform. It is “our digital brain”, based on big data and strategic artificial intelligence for the Digital Program. It is being a fundamental enabling piece in most of our Data Analytics cases and has allowed us to develop models and scale them in a much more agile and efficient way. The second is the consolidation of our digital case acceleration program based on data & analytics. For this HackIA, our hackathon of which we have already had seven editions and which is a basic source of inspiration to look for digital solutions so that in a short space of time our businesses can improve. Finally, training: with our Data School we provide digital training to our employees and thus we can obtain the greatest value from the data that we have throughout the company.Of all the technological trends (Big Data, migration to the cloud, logistics transformation…) which do you think is going to be the most relevant for Repsol’s business?We are about to reach the five-year horizon of our Digital Program and we are clear that digitization will continue to be an important competitive advantage in the future. We are going to continue promoting and reinforcing our digital transformation from 2022, ensuring its continuity through a second phase of the Program. To face this challenge, we will continue to bet on the extensive use of artificial intelligence (AI), which is one of the great principles that has marked our digital transformation process from the beginning. Technologies for the automation of operations through the use of “digital twins”, robotics, the Internet of Things or 5G, which are fundamentally applicable to our assets and industrial environments, will also be very relevant. Of course, we will continue to focus on developing new digital channels of interaction with our customers and betting on the technologies that help us to do so. Another relevant aspect will be to intensify the use of the cloud, which we consider essential to accelerate the development of new digital products and services. Another of our priorities is to continue searching for and incorporating disruptive technologies (eg Quantum computing, Metaverso, Software 2.0, Zero-trust security…) and for this we are putting all our efforts into having the necessary skills and talent. And although, obviously , technology is very important, the real challenge is in our human team. Technology requires people and for this the key element is talent management and the training of our professionals in new digital skills.What cybersecurity strategy do you carry out? Is prevention or knowing how to deal with a cyberattack more important?We are committed to security and we know that cyber incidents could have an impact not only on us, but also on our stakeholders. That is why we have set out to remain a cyber-resilient company. We analyze the risks of our digital operations from the moment of their conception, and apply processes and technologies for their protection, demanding the same level of identification and protection from our suppliers. Because threats are constantly evolving, we regularly update risk analyzes and plan to remediate any vulnerabilities that are found. We also deploy and update detection technologies for potential attacks or intrusions, and constantly test and adapt our response and recovery plans as a contingency measure. And, of course, it is just as important to continue promoting the cybersecurity culture among our employees, aware that each person is the best protection barrier against threats.Repsol shows a clear devotion to sustainability, how does the ICT department help in this matter?When we launched our Digital Program, we did so with the ambition of transforming the processes of each area of ​​our company, providing a real tangible economic impact, and acting as a key enabler of Repsol’s sustainability objectives. Currently, of the more than 400 digital initiatives that we have underway, around 60% have a positive impact in terms of sustainability and around 20% reduce our CO2 emissions, contributing to an estimated reduction of 50kt of CO2 in 2021. In terms of decarbonization, we could rule out two fields in which digitization helps our businesses: energy efficiency in assets and supporting our customers in the energy transition. On the other hand, in our journey towards the challenge of being a company net zero emissions by 2050, we have set out to make low-carbon business models 100% digital from day one. At Repsol we are allocating 6,500 million euros to low-carbon projects in the 2021-2025 period. Digitization will continue to be a key lever to create new sources of income and optimization of these business models. Regarding renewable generation, new generation facilities are being designed to be smart and connected from the start, taking advantage of the Internet of Things. Things (IoT) and data analysis to optimize performance.One of the company’s challenges is for the customer to be the center of its strategy. How are you carrying out this transformation from the IT department?Our challenge is to reinvent the way in which our customers relate to energy and the goal is to be able to offer each of them the product they need at all times. We are aware of the growing importance of digitization as a lever to attract and retain customers, facilitating the understanding of their needs and the ability to relate/interact with them. There are technologies that are being decisive in this regard, such as data and AI, omnichannel and also the discipline of design. Thus, thanks to them, for example, we have launched applications such as Waylet, linked to offering solutions to energy demand for transport, and Vivit designed to help customers optimize their home’s energy consumption.

By Alvaro Rivers

Award-winning student. Incurable social media fanatic. Music scholar. Beer maven. Writer.