How to Win Despite the New Oil Price Reality

Martin Richards

Martin Richards

EMC Corporation’s Information Intelligence Group Senior Director of Energy Industry Solutions

For many Energy sector customers, IT plans from just a quarter ago are under scrutiny amidst the new oil price reality. While some greet such price drops with fear, I see many forward-thinking Oil & Gas leaders seizing the dramatic shift for competitive gain. Here are three strategies our customers are using to position for market advantage, based on my recent site visits and conversations.

1 – Leveraging Subscription-Based Models

Failing Oil PricesRather than impulsively slashing costs and outright stopping projects, composed veteran leaders are getting creative in how to fund initiatives they know matter long-term. They have been through down cycles before. This approach was already underway before the economic shift, and is now trending upward: cloud provisioning.

At a major South American-based mining company, project sponsors are shrewdly avoiding any large, upfront capital outlays for hardware and software (formerly typical at project upstart). Instead, they are looking at yearly subscriptions to the same functionality — without the initial procurement and maintenance investment.

This turns a $1M one-time check writing exercise into a series of responsible, affordable payments. Most importantly, as one recent EMC Documentum customer described it, a private, public or hybrid cloud strategy ensures “no strategic dead end.” They will reap advantages in both the long and short term. They will keep their companies alive.

If and when oil prices increase, they will have made progress on critical initiatives like optimizing capital projects. If prices stay low, they are holding to fiscal responsibility while still developing competitive advantage. In fact, they are able to “have it all” with immediate, budgeted access to technology, as well as the ability to Continue reading

Enterprise Content Management in the Big Data Era

Michele Vaccaro

Michele Vaccaro

EMC Information Intelligence Group EMEA Presale Director

There is no doubt that Big Data is one of the major trends in the IT industry that has developed and matured over the last few years.

Financial Services, Healthcare and Energy are just few examples of industries where Big Data ballenterprises are identifying ways to implement new technologies in a profitable way allowing them to make more money, save money or meet compliance.

By providing the ability to collect and store enormous quantities of heterogeneous data, Big Data technologies offer the opportunity for companies to perform near real-time analysis that were unthinkable just few years ago.

But forward-looking predictive analytics alone will not be enough to face the challenges that the 3rd era of IT is presenting.

Big Data powered analytics today can provide a good navigation system that CIOs and CEOs can refer to in order to make wiser decisions on where to go and how to get there, outperforming their competitors. They will not necessarily provide the vehicle that Continue reading

How Did We Live Without This?

Sean Baird

Sean Baird

Sean leads Energy and Engineering Industry solution marketing and market development for EMC’s Information Intelligence Group.

iPad Apps for Asset Operations

Pipeline junction with markings from www.energyindustryphotos.com

Source: www.energyindustryphotos.com

Scrawled in black marker across many a pipe in today’s oil or gas facility is an equipment number. Maybe it’s in thick lead pencil, or white spray paint. But whatever format, these primitive cave drawings, and the methods for managing such equipment, have persisted for decades – until now.

Asset Ops Mobile Worn Pump ShaftJust as instant information sharing has rocked fields from journalism to travel, mobile tablets like the iPad are unleashing productivity in the energy & engineering industries. Field technicians are moving away from using paper to provide feedback on their maintenance tasks back at central office each night. Today, they simply touch and swipe in their expertise from any work site through an app (check out the EMC Documentum Asset Operations Mobile app in iTunes).

No more of that handwritten graffiti, since best practices now recommend durable bar code tags. A quick bar code scan, pipe photo, or water leak video capture with the mobile app, and technicians are instantly reporting what parts have Continue reading

Solving the Energy Project Archiving Puzzle

Tom Broering

Tom Broering

Head of Americas Alliances and Channel Sales, Enterprise Content Division at EMC

Remember those 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles we’d spend hours putting together on the dining room table? Turns out they’re a pretty good metaphor to illustrate data archiving.

Anthony Markezich_TWG

Anthony Markezich, The Windward Group

I wanted to hear how The Windward Group’s Brant Rathe and Anthony Markezich thought about their solution, The Connector for EMC InfoArchive. As a member of the InfoArchive Consortium, I expected they would talk about architecture, adaptability across platforms– stuff like that.

They talked about puzzles.

“Can you tell, from just a few pieces, what the completed puzzle will look like?” asks Anthony, Solutions Executive-Enterprise Systems and a self-described tech geek who cut his early technology teeth in his uncle’s TV repair shop. “For effective archiving, you need to save the pieces, AND the final picture. For example, suppose you want to preserve construction documents and the project management database on an oil platform out in the North Sea so you can be compliant, and respond to any regulatory inquiry—years after the work?

You need to think “jigsaw puzzle,” but also “automated problem solving.”

“It’s hybrid archiving, and it clears up the headaches,” adds Brant, VP of Sales. “InfoArchive is this amazingly versatile XML-based archive. The Connector is the traffic cop. It creates complete business objects from structured and unstructured data, pulled from virtually any application, then submits submission information packages (SIPs) for ingestion into the archive, preserved according to your governance policies.”

Engineering and energy projects present special problems. For decades, energy companies have created their own applications to solve problems. Hundreds of them:  Project management applications drive field activities. Capital expenditure applications track major equipment purchases and other capex transactions. ERP systems track financial activities. In general, these companies have been happy to maintain a distributed approach to their applications….until it comes to preserving a total picture of what occurred.

“They might be running dozens of platforms, employing hundreds of applications, many of them 20-30 years old,” says Anthony. “How in the world could the whole picture come together for compliance?”

Brant Rathe_TWG

Brant Rathe, The Windward Group

“The solution,” says Brant, “involves platform specific plug-ins created for The Connector, resulting in format-neutral SIPs utilized for ingestion into InfoArchive.”

“We think we’re at least two years ahead of the curve,” says Anthony, with some pride. “But we also know, a wave of momentum is coming. Technologies like InfoArchive and The Connector for InfoArchive will fundamentally change industry thinking about data preservation. Now we can save and store nearly everything, in its proper format, with its associated raw data, multiplied into the millions of documents and data points, extracted from multiple legacy applications, at a fraction of the old cost.”

The prospect especially excites Brant who pondered, “How often do you get the opportunity to solve this kind of puzzle and be part of something that totally transforms an industry?”

How do you put the whole picture together for compliance without losing any of the pieces? 

Three Ways to Improve Efficiency & Productivity With Your Suppliers

Mangesh Kalbhor

Mangesh Kalbhor

Product Manager, Energy and Engineering Solutions for the EMC Information Intelligence Group

As the price of crude oil falls to a five-year low, it’s more critical than ever for owner operators to effectively and systematically manage the collaboration with their suppliers and vendors. Despite the changing market dynamics, energy companies continue to manage a growing number of capital projects, especially in emerging regions of the world.

But given changing market dynamics, budgets are tightening, and oil & gas, power, mining and all other energy companies are under constant pressure to effectively manage the heavy flow of documents that regularly move between their many  suppliers and vendors. Throughout the design and into the construction phase, supplier collaboration is essential to ensure timely construction and commissioning of energy assets and plants. Given the size of typical projects and large number of documents coming in from each supplier, managing these has been a challenge.

Tips for Collaborating with Suppliers

The current inefficient methods for managing the process such as email, FTP, and portals means constant back-and-forth of these contractual documents which increases the risk of misplacing or losing track of the right set of documents with right versions and the risk of exposing network to external parties. So, how can you improve the efficiency and productivity with your suppliers? Consider these suggestions.

1. Combine structure with online collaboration

During a recent discussion with a plant owner operator, it was obvious about the pain they experienced dealing with document flow from suppliers. Their view of document collaboration with external vendors and suppliers has turned into a frustrating repetition of back-and-forth journey of documents. The documents going from suppliers to the owner operator and then going back with remarks, returning again with the updates and sometimes another round trip with further changes. This repeats for most of the deliverable packages from their suppliers.

As collaboration is becoming a business priority, look for an easy-to-use tool with a structured environment that would allow you to securely exchange documents, comments and feedback loop with external suppliers. Organize your project documents in a collaborative space, centralizing the exchange of transmittals and contract deliverables. Consider a public cloud solution that requires limited capital investment with a fast, configuration-only implementation that will give you 24/7 access to team members so they can upload, browse and search for documents, and receive notifications.

2. Add automation to help ensure compliance

Regulatory compliance is critical in this industry making it a high priority. The exchange of documents, versions and related collaboration needs to be well documented and managed. It has been a challenging aspect to some plant operators due to fragmented document exchange process and different ways for related communication.

Bringing it all together and tying it to a single thread will help optimize the process of document exchange. By automating the time-consuming document validation and import process, you will minimize the time needed to manage and track supplier deliverables. Automation provides extensive audit trails and version histories with a complete record of the document changes, showing a clear record for compliance purposes.

3. Make it secure, but accessible

Almost all of the plant operators and engineering firms I’ve talked to have expressed the concern toward security of data and information while sharing documents with external suppliers. Allowing suppliers access through the firewall poses a big risk to the corporate network and internal information.

A neutral location that is highly secure with sophisticated encryption is a good alternative to allow document exchange without compromising security of the plant. Using a secured collaborative space, you can seal up any weak holes in your firewall, which is especially important when hackers today are ever more adept at exploiting security weaknesses. For additional security, documents are encrypted during transfer as well as when stored. You can be confident of document integrity, with shared accountability for quality with suppliers and vendors—who themselves have more control over contract deliverables.

Keep Your Projects on Track

By considering each of these suggestions you take a step forward to  help your project teams and suppliers keep their projects on track and on time. Consider EMC Supplier Exchange to help simplify and expedite the distribution, review and approval of transmittals and contract deliverables across your extended team—securely—via the cloud. With its integration to EMC Documentum Capital Projects, you can easily extend collaboration into your document management system.

Do you have other suggestions on how to better manage supplier collaboration? Please share them below.