A survey of upstream oil professionals has found cybersecurity to be the greatest focus of digital investment across the industry.

The survey, conducted by Ireland-headquartered international professional services company Accenture, spoke to 255 industry professionals including engineers and executives from 47 countries.

Of the survey respondents, 61% named cybersecurity as a digital technology their company is investing in; 12% named cybersecurity in the previous 2017 survey.

Cyberattacks resulting from a lack of digital investment were the biggest concern for 5% of respondents, having decreased from 13% in 2017. Around a third of the professionals said their company plans to invest in cybersecurity in the next three to five years.

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By GlobalData

Accenture managing director Rich Holsman said: “Managing attacks isn’t just a matter of protecting reputation, share price and operations, but it’s part of a greater responsibility for national services and security.

“Upstream businesses must continue to invest thoughtfully and substantially in cybersecurity measures, as they often underestimate their exposure to such attacks, which are also increasing in technical complexity.”

Those polled were asked which digital tools were causing the greatest impact on business performance. Again, cybersecurity was the most popular answer, with 16% of responses choosing it.

Respondents’ second choice was cloud technologies, with 15%. This was followed by data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things, with 12%, 9% and 6% respectively.

Cloud technologies also came second for delivering the most business performance impact.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they plan to invest more in digital technology, though about one-third said their company’s lack of digital strategy was the biggest obstacle to getting more out of technology.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are expected to be the areas of largest growth in coming years. More than half of respondents expect their business to invest in AI in the next three to five years.

Half of all respondents said analytics and big data are topics for future investment. In contrast, cybersecurity came fifth with 38%.