From Tank to Bank: Adnoc Distribution’s IT transformation
Mention ADNOC and many will think of the iconic headquarters building the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the UAE’s biggest and the world’s fourth largest oil company, has just completed in the capital city. However ADNOC Distribution, its largest subsidiary and the company that manages its parent’s downstream operations, is in its own right an impressive sized organization with over 13,000 employees, 250 service stations across the Emirates, and aviation fuel depots at nine airfields, including military installations.
Owned by the UAE government, which tasks ADNOC Distribution among other key functions with converting cars to gas and vehicle registration and testing, it is a national institution though it has one foot firmly in the private sector, operating as a retailer and a dominant community based brand.
The company is currently in a phase of rapid growth, spending more than $1 billion to increase the number of its service stations from the current level of around 300 to more than 500 by the end of 2016. The booming economy has seen demand escalate. The new stations are needed to cut queues and reach underserved areas. The company is also going to extend its service station footprint into neighbouring Saudi Arabia in this year
In neither economy does petrol retailing make any money, since fuel prices are pegged at artificially low prices. As a result every opportunity to add value is to be seized upon. Within the UAE it relies on car washing and other vehicle related services and retail sales from convenience stores and food outlets to generate revenue. ADNOC Distribution’s expansion into Saudi Arabia will add to this revenue, given the strong purchasing power in the kingdom.
Supporting millions of transactions using latest IT technologies at infrastructure level
With such volumes and such complexity Adnoc Distribution turned to IT to automate processes and remove silos within the business, explains Ali Abdul Aziz Al Ali, VP of the IT division. “There are two sides to our technology, the back office that is owned by the company and the customer-facing side that is managed by the business owner. For example we have our ‘Rahal’ fuel smart card customers can use that to purchase any services at our service stations. Now at the back end I want to make sure my infrastructure is ready for such transactions – so the customer can use the smartcard the way he wants and we can capture his preferences and make changes to the level of service.”
The good news is that Al-Ali and his team have created powerful IT services, applications and infrastructure throughout the organisation. New service locations will have the benefit of plug and play support systems such as point of sale (POS) that can be installed in no time and at little cost. But that is only a part of the picture he says. “Everyone in the UAE who drives a car or flies in a plane is our customer, and many more besides, since we operate more than 100 C-stores (convenience stores) and are now opening up larger food and grocery stores (G-Stores) in city locations, quite separate from the petrol stations. Altogether we have about 15 separate business units in the downstream oil & gas sector. We are highly diverse.”
In 2010 the company processed about 300,000 financial transactions a day: today it processes more than a million. That is more than the largest bank in the country, and it has to be remembered that to maintain customer satisfaction these have to be carried out fast. “Customer satisfaction is our main business driver,” points out Senior Database Administrator and Team Leader Awad Ahmed Ali El Siddiq. “Our systems are optimised to deliver better user experiences: that is why we investing to improve our infrastructure and business applications. Part of our strategic vision is to really enable mobile apps, make use of big data and the cloud, and even to bring artificial intelligence (AI) into the picture!”
The IT Roadmap and ERP vision behind the success
In employee numbers, ADNOC Distribution has doubled in size since 2010, the year it launched its IT Roadmap. This gave a clear vision of the services to be addressed and the projects to be tackled year by year. “We are working on systematic suite of solutions based on business needs, though in many case we are actually exceeding the business requirement.” said Ahmed Al-Dhaheri, Application Systems Department Manager. “For example in 2011 we started integrating more than 15 major business application and database environments: we have consolidated all those systems. Now we have a single trusted platform for managing the entire company’s key information asset. This led to better IT support and administration and delivered over 20 times better application response times!”
It was as recently as May 30 that the company announced the official deployment of Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) 12.2.4 running on Oracle Exadata and Exalogic Elastic Cloud engineered systems covering more than 40 Oracle business modules. ADNOC Distribution was one of the first organisations worldwide to successfully complete this mission critical upgrade, very much in line with the goals of the UAE’s ‘smart government’ vision.
The ERP Project covered the implementation of Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM), Financials, Advanced Procurement, Enterprise Asset Management, Order Management and standard Business Intelligence applications using the latest version of Oracle R12.2.4
The organization has also implemented Oracle HR-Talent Management cloud based Solution
That simplified and improved the entire performance appraisal process
Abdul Nazir, Senior Application System Analyst and ERP Project Manager said “The project has delivered the following strategic objectives: improved operational excellence; support for long term business goals, improved customer satisfaction; improved decision making; support for our paperless strategy; and greater system scalability, performance and availability.
IT security is key within the O&G sector, said IT Quality Department Manager Abdelrahman Mohamed Abd Elaal. The implementation of ISMS (Information Security Management System) and ITPP (Information Technology and Procedures Projects) has laid the foundation for IT best practices, policies and procedures that guarantee safe operation for our customers, partners and employees, reducing information leakage risk and attacks, resulting in millions of dollars saved.”
State of Art Data Centre and Disaster Recovery Facility
IT service availability and redundancy is a key goal for the company to achieve, so that 100 percent of service levels can be covered in an emergency. To this end the data centre team established a new state of art disaster recovery data centre featuring best of breed technologies and solutions to support business continuity 24/7 and guaranteeing world class level of security and speed. The project also involved a complete re-design for the primary headquarters data centre to support business expansion and additional power and cooling requirement. Not only will all the company’s internal operations be managed on the common infrastructure services and ERP platform, but vital ancillary services as well, like the vehicle management system (VMS) that tracks and monitors the delivery trucks, the burgeoning retail operations, and the aviation operations. “Every drop of oil that we use is traceable, from delivery from the refinery to the tank farm, on the trucks, at the petrol station and finally to the customer’s tank – from tank to bank!”
Now that the infrastructure is in place, it will be a simple matter to scale it up, said infrastructure and data centre department manager Ahmed Al-Shamsi: “We are implementing systems that can be easily upgraded in a matter of weeks or even days to cater for any additional requirement – so if tomorrow our manpower increases to 20,000, or we decide to expand in the region, we can achieve that. No longer do employees have to juggle a host of applications in their daily work, he adds. Best of breed solutions form vendors such as Cisco, HP, Oracle and Microsoft are integrated on a single infrastructure serving more than 5,000 employees on a daily basis and hundreds of customers and vendors online. “On top of that, we have enabled business intelligence so that management can have access to all the key data across all business lines, all of the time to support the decision making process.”
Future plans toward operation excellence & business optimisation
The team is very proud to have achieved this vision. “The implementations of various key projects was like completing a five story building, knowing we can safely go up to 20 storeys without having to strengthen the foundations!” said Ali Al Ali. “Technology is evolving fast and will not wait for us to react, so we have to be ready to take it on board. Our internal users and our customers all need the IT Division to ensure 24/7 availability of all systems: we absolutely have to ‘keep the lights on’ and at the same time we have to run a greener and a leaner operation.
“Lean” is something understood at ADNOC Distribution, as demonstrated by the IT professionals who are creating an integrated system with Social, Analytics, Mobility and Cloud (SMAC) bundled together. It’s an example of the Enterprise Middleware program that by next year will dramatically cut the number of service requests to the IT Division for manual interventions, leading to zero paperwork in many cases. As Awad El-Sidiq said, “One of our key initiatives in the coming period is to make use of big data and advanced analytics to optimise the business operation, increase revenue and maintain customer loyalty to our products and services.
“With our Enterprise Mobility Program introduced this year, and our first mobile apps for customers, we wanted to promote fast access from anywhere at any time to key business services and applications in order to simplify the process and increase productivity. We believe that cloud computing is a key component on our ROADMAP and we are proud to be one of the earlier adopters to run private and public cloud hybrid implementation to get the best of both worlds for maintaining an excellent CAPEX/OPEX strategy for our key IT services.
Outstanding international recognition
ADNOC Distribution has won many recent international awards for its IT:
- Best Energy Sector Deployment of the year 2013/2014 by ACN News
- Best Energy Sector Deployment of the year 2014 by CNME-ICT achievements
- Achieved ISO 27001 Certification - 2014
- Best Oracle Database Administration Excellence Award for EMEA 2013
- Best Oracle Engineered System of the year For EMEA 2013
- Oracle Downstream – Oil & Gas Excellence Award in Open World 2012
- Oracle Excellence Award for Exadata Implementation MEA Region 2012
- Best Oracle Cloud adoption for the year 2014 by Oracle Corporation