Get your Head in the Cloud

Posted by Jennifer Schulze


Every industry faces the pressure to transform.  This transformation comes from aligning organizations for greater effectiveness in the right ways.  It's achieved by placing a myopic focus on productivity, squeezing in the right ways to achieve greater margins and more streamlined business operations.  But how are organizations succeeding in this ever shifting, volatile and highly competitive environment?  Many have turned to technology to provide answers.  Technology helps them stitch together the vital business components so that the right answers are delivered at the right time and in the right ways. 

One example of an industry that has (and continues to) do this well is the Oil and Gas industry.  By leveraging technologies like cloud combined with data drive analytics insights, this industry has successfully regrouped in down times.  The result is a leaner, more agile organizational model.  They are now able to be much more productive, and deliver more with less.  Margins are higher and pumping costs are lower. The result is an enhanced competitive position (and less reliance on OPEC).  Although not ideal for producers who need higher per barrel prices to break even, these improved operations have produced greater supply. The result is that Oil and Gas companies have effectively gone from chasing barrels to chasing efficiencies and the results are paying off handsomely.    

How does cloud help operational efficiency?
Investment in technology, like that offered via the cloud, can yield tremendous payoffs.   Key to this success is that it's important to understand why one would move to cloud, and what desired goals are.   For example, when embarking on a cloud strategy, it's vital to fully comprehend the licensing model and to leverage the software (paid on a subscription basis) fully. This is key as you may continue to pay, whether you use it or not based on the contractual stipulations.  On the flip side, when leveraged fully, Cloud allows for fast entry and exit with minimal risk to your business, or damage to budget.  Businesses can achieve operational efficiency by utilizing the cloud infrastructure that scales up quickly, and provides a scalable architecture depending on needs at a given point in time.   In short, cloud computing offers an automated and dynamic way to procure and deliver IT offerings.

Cloud and Data:
Another benefit  of cloud is the ability to coordinate, and subsequently action upon, cross company data silos.  A typical oil and gas company generates between 1 and 2 TB of data- per day.  Using cloud technology, this data can be more easily sourced and then be actionable for the users who need the right information at the right time, and presented in the most user relevant way.  Sadly, most oil companies don't even use the data they have.  A McKinsey study cited that less than 1% of the data gathered is actually being used, often because it is housed on site, in data graveyards where it's hard to find, even harder to retrieve and almost impossible to make actionable.  

Pay as you go:
Cloud software as a service (SaaS) offerings allow you to pay for software as you use it rather than making a big upfront investment for a product that might turn out to be unsuitable for your business or fails to adapt to your needs. You can easily predict and manage the monthly costs of cloud SaaS. Switching out a large upfront investment and unpredictable maintenance costs for a manageable monthly payment can free up cash for other areas of your business, allowing you to focus on growing or enhancing your enterprise. You also have fewer worries in terms of budgeting for unforeseen accidents that may affect your service, as you aren't responsible for the cost of maintaining the cloud servers.

Agility and Connectivity:
Business is always unpredictable. Being able to respond to changing regulations, customer needs and global trends quickly is crucial. Cloud services give businesses the agility needed to respond to these changes. It also makes it easier to achieve business growth and efficiency while connecting data, operations and even siloed businesses and processes with relatively simplicity.  Because it is not location based (applications and solutions running in the cloud can be based anywhere) it can connect even the most remote operations.  For an industry like oil and gas, where many facilities are far apart, this is a tremendous benefit.  Offshore facilities can easily link to those onshore, and every step in between.  Thus, every action or data is captured and connected, resulting in real time, actionable decision making from the petroleum engineer all the way to the COO, and for everyone else too.  This allows for the delivery of the Internet of Things (IoT) as well.  By connecting machines, wells, turbines (referred to as operational technologies or OT) to the applications such as financials and the software (IT), companies can finally gain full enterprise integration and visibility. 

Cloud transformation promotes digital transformation for companies in all industries.  When supported by a robust and scalable platform, it links OT with IT, connects traditionally siloed organizational processes and even reduces data graveyards.  The result is a more agile business-  one that is always far ahead of the competition and able to deal regroup in both good, and challenging times, and always come back stronger.  

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