Embracing mobile technology

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Tim Haïdar

According to recently collated statistics, global businesses will spend $168 billion on enterprise mobility by 2015 of which some five per cent - $8 billion - will be spent exclusively on oil and gas mobile applications. Mobility in oil and gas has become an enterprise requirement for the oil and gas sector.

Smartphones and tablets combined make up 70 per cent of all electronic devices sold in 2012 totalling an estimated 821 million units by year’s end. Tablet purchases by businesses reached 13 million units in 2012 and are set to more than quadruple to 53 million by 2016. In line with this prediction, information technology research firm Gartner Inc, have also predicted that two thirds of mobile workers will own a smartphone by 2016.

A recent survey conducted here at Oil & Gas IQ showed that employees in the oil and gas sector are already ahead of this trend, will 71 per cent of workers using mobile devices for work purposes, especially those in engaged in field operations, technical roles, and senior decision makers.

READ MORE: Building A Winning Mobility Strategy for Oil and Gas

According to Gartner smart device analysts, Carolina Milanesi: "The ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies."

Despite this curve-leading behaviour, at this point in time only one third of the upper echelon of oil and gas companies have their own mobile applications, and our CIO Survey showed that while 55 per cent of CIOs believed that mobile technology would greatly enhance operations, only 16 per cent of these C-level executives have employed a mobility strategy in their organisations so far.

The technology is there and the trends towards mobile device integration and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are only going to continue apace, yet the oil and gas industry has been late to the party in taking advantage of the benefits that enterprise mobility can offer.

READ MORE: How Mobility Is Modernizing Oil Field Services

Below are five ways that you can convince your CEO that mobility can benefit your organisation.

Field data capture

Field data capture was at one stage the province of a man, his pen and a notepad - maybe with the help of a meter. With the advent of mobile solutions, this information can now be delivered from diverse strata of the organisation, whether onshore or offshore to a single, centralised structure where it can be stockpiled, analysed and relayed to those who need it.

Streamlining your business processes

Manually scheduling projects across a myriad of different platforms and resources – from physical paper work-packets to proprietary applications and Excel spread sheets – is not conducive to making the efficacious decisions that save time and money in the field. The unified connectivity with back-office systems, that mobile devices can bring to the business sphere can guarantee that only the latest information will inform and enable rapid decision-making.

Real-time operability

Field data capture by digital mobile devices has the beauty of adding a real-time operability to the tasks in hand. The man in the field logging the findings of a pipeline inspection to the central data server will allow project managers to access this data as it is inputted, providing visibility into the task performed. This allows for on-the-spot decision making by project managers removed from the field work, allowing them to react to an evolving situation instead of making an assessment once the field worker has returned to base.


Mobile logging of events can enable analysis of emergent problems to be addressed immediately by oil and gas maintenance technicians. This will lead to increased efficiency in the field due to the timely scheduling and application of manpower and material at the exact incident site rather than having to manually inspect potential problem areas.

Geolocation, location, location

GPS-enabled smartphones and tablets allow for geolocation - the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object. As long as the device is switched on, it is able to report your location to other users, in turn associating real-world locations to that location, for instance a stretch of road, a Portakabin, an oil depot. This can obviously be helpful in a number of situations, for example, when finding the nearest technician to react to a leakage or when trying to pinpoint workers whereabouts in the case of an evacuation. In this way mobility can not only save time and money but lives.

And it is not only people that can be tracked and traced with mobile solutions. Fitting inventory with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag turns them into "smart assets" with visibility of movement throughout the entirety of the supply chain.

READ MORE: Mobility: From Strategy To Roll Out & The 5 Pitfalls To Avoid On The Way


Watch This IBM Video On Oil & Gas Mobility:


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Sumit Dutta heads up Marketing at Oil & Gas IQ. Contact him at Twitter or Google Plus