Intuitive Software is the Answer to (almost) all your (Oil & Gas) Problems

07 May 2015

By Marc Boudria

The Oil & Gas Industry is experiencing a recent boom.  Domestic oil fields are pumping the most oil since 1986, and the industry could add 2-4% to the annual GDP by 2020.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its problems.  But we have the answers.  Or answer, rather.

1. Problem:  Expertise is Exiting

Oil and Gas is experiencing what is referred to “The Great Crew Change”.  Employees will be exiting O&G, and with them their knowledge.  Seventy-one percent of the workforce is over 50, and 50% of geophysicists and engineers plan to retire by 2018.   In a survey of O&G employees, 25% said this would “markedly” impact their industry.  The majority of this impact would be in the highly-skilled areas of geo-science and petroleum engineering.

Solution:  Intuitive Software

What if something could capture the expertise that is in currently housed in the brains of the most valuable, experienced employees?  Well-designed software that can be learned quickly and shows decision models and data visualization could.

2. Problem:  Millennials don’t want to work in Oil & Gas

Millennials are tech-savvy, digital natives who dislike hierarchy and the traditional workday.  They like collaborating with their peers and prefer continuous feedback and coaching from their supervisors.  If they aren’t learning, contributing and growing, they get bored. They want to work for faster paced, entrepreneurial companies who care about corporate responsibility.  Their top three ideal employers are Google, Apple and Facebook.  O&G, with its traditional, corporate image and tarnished reputation (think Exxon Valdez and BP Gulf spill) is finding it hard to attract younger employees.    

Solution:  Intuitive Software

Well, it will take more than software to get past an oil spill, or persuade HR to allow more flexible work schedules, but intuitive software will be what your Millennial employees expect.  Well-thought out technology will allow your employees to learn and collaborate, and keep your workforce more engaged.

3. Problem:  Employee Retention

See above.  The combination of a recent boom in Oil & Gas and “The Great Crew Change” means that the industry predicts it will be adding more than 500,000 jobs over the next five years worldwide.  The most highly-skilled jobs in geo-science and petroleum engineering are the most sought after.  Where will you find these gems?  Working for other O&G companies.  In a survey of O&G executives, 66% admitted to poaching from their competitors.

Solution:  Intuitive Software

You can’t stop Standard Oil recruiters from stalking your petroleum engineers on LinkedIn, but your technology can keep them with you.   Technology that is intuitive and functional is not the norm in Oil & Gas.  Most was built in the 90s to be purely functional.  User experience (UX) or user interface (UI) was an afterthought.  The employees who use the software have put in hours learning it in order to become fluent in it.  The casual user doesn’t have a chance.  O&G companies are not scrambling to fix legacy systems but the ones who get there with intuitive interfaces and data visualization will have a competitive advantage.

4. Problem:  Provincial Mindset

Oil is not discovered at corporate headquarters.  By nature, the O&G industry is highly decentralized.  Chevron, based in San Ramon, CA has only 5% of their employees there.  The rest of its 60,000 employees are spread across regional offices in 180 countries.   This is unavoidable, but it leads to things being done differently in different pockets of the company.  Even in the best cases where the region is operating efficiently, they are not sharing best practices nor offering broad opportunities to the employees in that region.

Solution:  Intuitive Software

Good technology allows your regions to see data corporate wide, yet easily double click down into what might be specific and localized to them.  Software that enables real-time collaboration with headquarters along with powerful data visualization tools allow for necessary autonomous decision-making at the point of the problem.

5. Problem:  Inefficient Practices

Add up geographic isolation and provincial management practices and you get some big inefficiencies.  Trenegy (link to mentions a client who was providing consolidated forecasts to the regions.  Because business was so different in each region, the rolled up forecast became unusable.  Their solution was to hire more finance staff to do more forecasting which only wasted money and surely frustrated both finance staff and the regions.

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