(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Energy and utilities companies in the GCC region need to create an ecosystem which encourages 'out of the box' thinking, and makes use of the latest innovative technologies to drive sustainability, experts at Booz Allen Hamilton discussed.
Speaking to the media during the launch of a new report entitled 'The Future is Innovation', Dr Adham Sleiman, vice-president of Booz Allen Hamilton Mena, noted that the GCC states hold almost a third of proven crude-oil reserves and approximately a fifth of global gas reserves. However, declining reserves and revenues along with increased consumption due to rapid industrialisation, population growth and rising domestic energy demand, are creating challenges for the energy sector in the region.
"We know that the governments in the region are starting to act to address these challenges," Dr Sleiman said. "There has been a focus on privatisation, a reduction of subsidies, and continued investments into sustainable energy."
However, he noted that the key to sustainable success lies in innovation. "There is an undeniable need for innovation when you look at the context in which we live in. New technologies are constantly being introduced which have the power to positively impact the sector."
While many companies have recognised the need to innovate across various departments, there are still a few roadblocks that they need to overcome in setting up a proper ecosystem, says Fady Kassatly, senior vice-president of Booz Allen Hamilton Mena. These include a reluctance over the sharing of intellectual property, stakeholders refusing to invest in new research, and financing issues. Many companies are comfortable with staying on a tried and tested course, he said.
"Innovation is driving the national agenda of a number of countries in the region," Kassatly said. "In the energy sector, there is a big opportunity to harness the potential at the grassroots level by empowering human capital. Energy companies must consider fostering an innovative corporate culture that encourages employees to experiment without fear of failure."
To make sustainability a viable alternative, Booz Allen has identified a number of key considerations for successful innovation strategies that could enable GCC energy players to fuel the region's growth. The first one urges companies to encourage and motivate their employees, and to assure them that failures are all part of the process. Employees should feel that it is safe for them to experiment within their own capacity.
The second has to do with properly classifying intellectual property. "You don't have to patent all intellectual property," says Dr Sleiman. "And, not all patents need to be monetised."
Lastly, it is important to engage stakeholders by developing a strategy that makes the R & D process more efficient and transparent. For example, a start-up could help test a product with a much faster turnaround, or a crowdsourcing challenge could be used to create multiple solutions to an issue. Such an approach can help manage costs more effectively, increase stakeholder buy-in and reduce risk for the organisation.
Rohma Sadaqat I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.