Microsoft opens largest centre of excellence for oil and gas in Dubai

Microsoft has opened a new centre of excellence for the oil & gas industry in Dubai.

The Middle East and Africa centre has been launched to assist organisations in the sector to drive digital transformation, cut costs and optimise processes in their organisations.

The centre, which is the largest such facility for Microsoft globally, will focus on emerging technologies including Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, modern productivity and cloud computing and Microsoft solutions. The centre also brings together leading industry players like Accenture, Aveva, Baker Hughes, Honeywell, OSIsoft, Schneider Electric and Schlumberger.

According to the 2016 Upstream Oil and Gas Digital Trends Survey by Accenture and Microsoft, 80% of upstream oil and gas companies plan to increase spending on digital technologies in order to help them drive leaner, smarter organisations.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that IT spending in oil and gas will increase to nearly $50 billion in 2016, while spending on connectivity related technologies should increase by 30%.

"Digital transformation is top of mind for executives in the oil and gas industry, which is why we built the centre of excellence in the Middle East," said Omar Saleh, director for Oil and Gas at Microsoft, Middle East and Africa.

"For the industry to transform, companies need to develop sound digital strategies, built on secure and agile platforms, either on a company's premises or in the cloud. Continuous dialogue with our customers and partners is essential for enabling innovation and moving the industry forward. This is what the centre of excellence is built for."

The survey also showed that 44% of respondents said that investment in IoT is their next main priority, to extract efficiency from their organisations and speed up decision making. Mobility solutions for field works and connection of assets through IoT and smart devices is also a priority for 60% of organisations.

Massimo Pagella, resources lead for Accenture Middle East and North Africa, added: "Oil and gas industry leaders continue to look to digital technologies as a way to address some of the key challenges the industry faces. They are expected to continue investing in areas that help lower operations costs, infrastructure costs and drive better asset management through analytics.

"However, looking into the future, these companies are starting to realise that traditional cost cutting levers will not be enough to sustain future growth. Accenture's unique alliance with Microsoft will help give this sector an opportunity not only to cut costs but also redesign businesses to thrive in volatile market conditions."

The centre will also focus on cyber security for the Oil & Gas sector, with expertise from Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit and other industry leaders being included in all initiatives from the centre.