At least one-third of the R3-billion per annum allocated by the petrochemical industry in South Africa to information & telecommunication technology (ICT) goes to outsourced technology services.
The reason for the high amount is the growing realisation that ICT plays a vital role in the efficient management of diminishing resources, such as crude oil and gas, and therefore increasing the sustainability of the petrochemical industry.
The complex nature of the petrochemical industry dictates that professional organisation, instead of in-house personnel, handles the ICT.
Philip Savides, regional chief executive of Business Connexion’s Western Cape regional offices, says: “The petrochemical industry has followed the outsourcing model for over a decade and this has resulted in a high level of sophistication when implementing technology solutions and services.”
Petrochemical companies worldwide are under pressure to improve reserve accounting, operational efficiency, environmental compliance and industry performance using technology.
Already, the Internet has empowered companies across the industry to react quickly to unexpected events and changes in supply and demand.
More recently, enterprise IT systems have become critical for petrochemical companies that seek to increase efficiencies and productivity, as well as address issues such as energy politics, compliance, fuel management, new market models, globalisation, profitability, reliability and safety.
Savides says one of the key challenges faced by the industry is that it is forced to work within the constraints of market fluctuations beyond its control.
“Business continuity is a key driver in the industry and the ability to react quickly to market changes is crucial.
“The industry deals in very large volumes, which adds enormous complexities to the supply chain and the technology that is used. It takes solutions that can integrate an entire enterprise to realise the full potential of the hi-tech business environment."
Almost the entire petrochemical industry relies on specialised business applications, like the IS-Oil module within the SAP enterprise resource planning solution. This covers processes from wellhead through to retail outlet.