Agility required to do business in new era of constant volatility - panel

Author: Adam Yanelli


HOUSTON (ICIS)--The companies that evolve into more agile operations with a combination of planning and reaction will be the ones to thrive through the energy transition, according to panellists on the opening day of the Reuters USA Downstream conference.

Danny Meyer, global head of CIO practice at planning software company Anaplan, and Jim Leavitt, CEO of professional services firm Cervello, said companies need to rethink how they are going to execute their businesses in a future of constant volatility.

“It seems like we have lived 20 years’ worth of experiences in just the last two,” Meyer said, noting the energy industry is seeing crude oil prices above $80.00/bbl after being negative for a day in April 2020, and natural gas prices hitting record highs, as well as weather events from hurricanes to the winter storm.

Leavitt talked about the complexities of the energy segment and especially downstream production, “and how you manage those complexities in a way that is agile is a requirement going forward”.

Leavitt said companies need a connected plan that takes in everything from sources to the financials, but to also have the foresight to know when to pivot from a plan in reaction to changes in the market.

“There are a lot of traditional approaches to planning, which tend to be siloed and slow and annual, or quarterly, and I think we need to flip that on its head,” he said. “Companies need to think about how that end-to-end process can be connected so that it can be done much more quickly, much more efficiently so we can plan regularly at higher frequency.”

Both panellists talked about data management and how making data available to different departments in a modern company is a way to make good decisions, or pivot from our plans to address the new source of information.

Meyer said when he hears the word “modern” he thinks of how companies are thinking about the data and the processes and the outcomes that they are after.

“Then when these things that are happening that we did not plan for, we now have the right foundation and the right platform and, ideally, the right culture and behaviours to package with that to get to these outcomes that we ultimately need,” he said.

The Reuters Downstream USA 2021 conference continues virtually through Friday, and in person on 21-22 October at the NRG Center, Conference and Exhibition, in Houston, Texas.