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TRANSCRIPT: 3 Critical Success Factors for Mobility in Oil and Gas

Tim Haïdar
Contributor: Tim Haïdar
Posted: 02/25/2014

Tim Haidar: Hello, and welcome; this is Tim Haidar, and today I’m speaking to Quinton Crenshaw who is a mobility and technology consultant who’s been working with energy companies to accelerate their mobile journey. We’re going to be talking ahead of the Oil & Gas Mobility Summit which will be taking place in Houston from 28th to 30th April 2014. Quinton, thanks very much for giving us your time today.

Quinton Crenshaw: Thank you for having me, Tim.

Tim Haidar: Let’s get straight into it. I know that you deem there to be three successful factors for mobility roll-out to actually work at a company, and I know that a lot of oil and gas companies are at the beginning, or even just thinking about rolling out a mobility strategy across the organisation. Let’s go through what you think those three factors are.

Quinton Crenshaw: Okay, thanks, Tim. Yes, so what happens and what I’ve seen quite a bit is energy companies decide to start their mobile journey in the middle. And what I mean by in the middle is they start and they decide, hey, let’s go develop an application that we can put on our devices and enable our workers, which is great; and then they develop this application and then they end up in a situation where they’re looking at each saying, okay, now what do we do? And why that happens is because they’ve really not considered the three critical steps to a successful mobility journey in oil and gas. So really, what they first have to do from their service is decide what the characteristics of their service need to be. What are the key success factors that, at the end of implementing this mobility service, they’ll be able to look back and say, yes, we were successful and we met all of our goals?

So the three critical success factors and the way I look at them are: governance, flexibility and speed. What I mean by governance is really, it’s governance not to inhibit creativity but provide the guardrails to make sure that there are processes to follow, and that they run smoothly and everyone knows how to engage them, and what to do if they’re not working. Depending on the maturity of the organisation, you may need a higher level of governance or maybe a lower level of governance meet your needs.

Tim Haidar: Just in terms of governance, you said that one of your points would be flexibility. Now, with governance, doesn’t there normally come a type of rigidity as well? How are companies going to make sure that they don’t make the paper trail and the bureaucracy more of a part of this journey than the actual end goal itself?

Quinton Crenshaw: That’s a great point. One of the things that a company needs to decide when they talk about what is this mobility service going to look like: they need to decide, do they want a tightly controlled governance framework that has a few people really making decisions and setting the direction and delivering the service, or do they want a loosely controlled entrepreneurial framework that really empowers everybody in the company, or anybody that’s interested in technology and mobility, to be able to, quote/unquote, do mobile, if that makes sense. So really, you have to decide: do you want it rigid and controlled, or do you want it flexible, entrepreneurial and fast?

And several of the companies I’ve worked with recently are really going towards flexible and fast, which means, from a governance standpoint, is building tools that empower the entire organisation to drive mobile. Ideally, once your governance plan’s in place, you’ll have the tools, processes, give people the know-how, give them the patterns to look at to understand how applications can get delivered, how they access data in a secure way. So, really, you get a grassroots drive to mobilise the company and empower the workers.

The other thing from a governance standpoint that’s really important is ensuring business alignment, because all too often IT goes out and they want to build this really cool thing, and a lot of the other parts of the organisation can look at that as playing, or, hey, IT’s out building new toys. But getting key business sponsorship and business alignment, and making sure in your governance process that there is a circle back and business representative maybe on your mobility steering committee, just to make sure that the things you’re doing really tie back to a business need in helping the workers be enabled to be more successful.

Tim Haidar: Now, in terms of business alignment, do you see this as being more of a challenge for a supermajor than a mid-size oilfield services company, for example?

Quinton Crenshaw: I think the challenges are similar; more likely the large supermajor’s going to have a harder time tying that back to the business, just because there are so many different parts of the business. A mid-size service company, most likely, and from what I’ve seen, can really tie that back to how they’re servicing their customers and how their workers out in the field have information to help their customers make better decisions. And I’ve seen that they’re a lot more successful tying that back just because of the number of people they have to work with and the number of departments and the lack of bureaucracy.

Tim Haidar: And when we’re talking about Lean and Six Sigma approaches to streamlining this kind of thing, do you think it would be helpful to employ those kind [sic] of tools when building a governance programme?

Quinton Crenshaw: I think so. I think everything you implement inside of a company, if you’re really talking about improving process and improving service levels, you can really the, you know, Define, Measure, Analyse, Implement, Control and Report approach to any of those things.

Tim Haidar: So the next point on the list of three is flexibility.

Quinton Crenshaw: So flexibility, there are a lot of options out there from a technology standpoint if you’re looking at how are we going to deliver mobile services to our customers and to our workers. And there are some technologies, I call technology stovepipes, where if you pick this and you go with this platform or go with this service and you decide that this is the only thing you’re to do, then in future you’re going to be limiting yourself. And so what I prefer to recommend that companies do is future-proof themselves by being okay with different technologies, embrace the fact that there are different delivery methods and new delivery methods coming up every single day that somebody’s implementing and trying to sell for a solution. If you get in the business of picking the winners and losers from a technology standpoint, you’ll most likely get stuck in analysis paralysis, and not be able to do anything as fast as you’d like. So what I’d recommend is trying lots of technology, if it’s accessible for you.

A company I recently worked with was using SAP and so they were implementing Fiori, they were implementing Citrix, Sitrion – all those different technologies have a purpose, and they were okay with the diversity, but the key to flexibility and diversity is, make sure that all the key stakeholders understand that there has to be a convergence plan. At some point in the future, even if you’re using these four or five different capabilities and technologies, you’ve got to have a plan to pull it all together at some point in the future. And that’s really about embracing the ambiguity; know that there are going to be a lot of things out there, but also know that at some point in the future you have to bring them all together to provide a consistent, coherent platform for your workers to be most effective on.


Tim Haidar: Building in the convergence plan - with all of these organisations it’s going to be a case of, if the organisation is large and monolithic, then it’s going to be a hell of a lot more difficult, seeing as people do start doing these things from the middle, roll backwards rather than roll forwards, as it were.

Quinton Crenshaw: Right, and the approach that I’m talking about, at the end of the day – when you get to my third point – it provides the company with speed, right? So we’ve established the guardrails, we’ve empowered people all throughout the company with the tools and the process to do mobile, to really develop things that are going to make their workers more effective and give their, you know, give their people out in the field the information they need to make better decisions. So what I recommend from a speed and velocity standpoint is, don’t be afraid to pick a direction and go, and don’t be afraid to change directions. In this environment, like I said before, you have to embrace the ambiguity – know that it’s going to change, but the more you do, the more likely that something’s going to work and be a differentiator for your company.

So when you go to governance and you’re thinking about governance, you’ve got to build a process that meets the demands or expectations of the workers. And I tell people: welcome to the consumerised society. If a worker can get a new app in the public app store, you know, in two days, or an update every two or three days, they’re not going to wait much longer than a week for you to update it in your corporate app store. So you need to build those processes in place that meet their expectations or they’ll just be throwing their work device aside and going back to the personal one.

And then really, the last point on speed is, while you’re doing this, push differentiating capability. What makes your mobile journey different than your competitors? You know, all too often companies spend a great deal of time and money documenting watered-down requirements with passively interested business sponsors. Companies should focus their efforts on the areas where it’s going to make the biggest difference. Some companies that I’ve recently worked with focused on lease operators. Those are the guys out in the field making sure that the pumpjacks are working, and oil and gases are flowing every day, and getting them the information they need to be more effective at it. And that’s what I mean by what’s going to differentiate your journey from your competitors.

Tim Haidar: Where do you stand on: bring your own device, or choose your own device, because there are a lot of different interpretations of what’s best?

Quinton Crenshaw: I think it all comes down to stickiness, right? If you have device that a worker chooses to work with, and chooses to keep in their hands when they’re away from the office, then you’ve also given them a powerful tool that they’re going to use at work. So I believe in both: bring your own device and choose your own device; it just really depends on the technologies that you implement. Because it’s not really about the device anymore, Tim; in my mind, it’s about the data, right? You’ve got to protect the applications and the data. What device it’s on, if you do this right, should be irrelevant.

Tim Haidar: Which brings me onto cyber security and things that could be nightmarish if there are incursions. You said that data is the most important thing – when we’ve got terabytes of data coming out of the world’s largest oil fields every day, cyber security is a big problem. It’s a hang-up for a lot of the people who’ll be thinking about going to a wireless mobile… What kind of things should people be thinking of with regards to ensuring themselves against cyber attack?

Quinton Crenshaw: It’s an interesting dilemma, because most companies, the day you start with them, they take your social security number, they take all of your personal data, and they sign you up for benefits through a large benefits company, and then they put your personal data in the cloud. On day one that personal information’s in the cloud, but then you mention to the same company, hey, maybe you should look at mail services in the cloud, and their kneejerk reaction is, oh, my goodness, that’s unsafe, that’s something that we couldn’t possibly do because we have all this IP. So you really have a contradiction in the way people look at these services right now.

I think from a mobile security standpoint, you really have to take an adaptive approach, and what I mean by the adaptive approach is, there are certain things that you might be delivering mobily [sic] that are very important, need to be really secured, need the highest level of security, maybe you have to authenticate every five minutes for that data, versus something that maybe isn’t that important like your email potentially, and you only have to authenticate to it once a day. So really taking a step back and not applying the same blanket rules to all the data that somebody might be accessing mobily is really the best approach, and keeping your tight hole data secured, and keeping the other things that may be eventually, you know, in a month or so be a matter of public record, maybe you don’t have to secure that nearly as much.

Tim Haidar: Interesting approach, especially the way that you put it, that your data is out there from day one. Some food for thought for some people out there!

Quinton Crenshaw: Right.

Tim Haidar: Great, thanks so much, Quinton.

Quinton Crenshaw: All right, thanks, Tim. Have a good day.

Tim Haïdar
Contributor: Tim Haïdar
Posted: 02/25/2014