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Cloud and mobile - decisions on today's data

Monday, January 20, 2014

The transition to cloud and mobile computing means that decisions can be made on today's data - not data up to 120 days old, as we do with paper based decision making processes. Richard Slack, president and CEO of oil and gas e-payables company Oildex, explains how to get the most out of cloud and mobile computing

For years, stacks of paper have clogged the arteries of the oil and gas industry.

This vast amount of critical business information has resulted in an information bottleneck in the back office that can cause strained collaboration between operations, regional suppliers, remote business partners and owners, and force companies to compromise relationships and make critical cash management decisions based on data 30, 90 or even 120 days old.

The oil and gas industry is evolving into an era where the exchange of critical business information is not constrained by paper. The back office is moving to the forefront of the business.

The catalyst is cloud technology, which is evolving into a better and more flexible computing model.

Mobility is the extension of the cloud-based revolution, delivering the promise of the cloud by enabling the collection, processing and use of real-time information further into the field than ever before.

Just like the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing drove a revolution that resulted in greater efficiencies in production, the marriage of cloud and mobility promises an increase in data productivity previously unimagined.

Benefits of mobile

Analysts estimate half of all business applications will be accessed via mobile devices over the next couple of years, says Martin Gunnarsson, director of research and strategy for IFS World Operations.

For oil and gas specifically, industry research organizations estimate that, by 2015, $8 billion will be spent on mobile applications.

Oil and Gas IQ, an energy Web site, found mobile technology was second on the list of top 10 priorities of chief information officers in the industry, and 95.2 percent of survey respondents indicated that mobile devices would enhance, if not greatly enhance, operations within the oil and gas sector.

The reasons for these high expectations are straightforward: mobility streamlines processes, offers near real-time operability, reduces delays and enables field data capture.

Manually processing data is not conducive to making decisions that save time and money in the field. The connectivity that mobile devices bring enables accelerated decisions.

Data capture from the oil patch sent from mobile devices to the cloud provides near real-time data to Management.

Mobile technology decreases information delays and enables faster problem identification, thereby improving time-to-decision processes.

IQPC reports 53.6 percent of those with a mobile strategy in the oil and gas space will use mobile devices for field data collection. Mobile technology enables businesses to deliver information from the field to a single, centralized, shared system where it can be collected, analyzed and dispersed throughout the organization.

Daily application

One example of cloud-based applications working in a mobile framework can be found in the accounts payables (AP) automation space.

It is clear to many that AP automation provides significant cost efficiencies to the business as proven by the movement en masse of the industry to these solutions. The benefits are clear: reduce processing costs, eliminate past due fees, capture early payment discounts and provide better visibility into cash management.

An equally important but perhaps less obvious benefit is quicker processing of near-real time information.

For example, an AP Manager at a large independent oil and gas company is constantly reaching out to one of the company's on-the-go executives to gain approval of key invoices.

Today, the process is inefficient. The AP Manager spends time hounding the Executive to gain approval on specific invoices; the Executive is working higher priority projects that drive value for the organization and is often unavailable, and the company can miss opportunities for early payment discounts, and in worst cases, may be liable for late fees. Time is expended on inefficient processes, dollars are wasted.

With the extension of cloud-based applications via mobile solutions, the inefficiencies are easily resolved. The executive, while sitting on a plane prior to departure, pulls out his smartphone, checks his inbox and is routed to the simplified AP workflow application optimized for his device, where he makes a comment and approves the invoice. No more nagging from the AP Manager, who is now free to route the invoice for payment while determining whether to reap the early payment discount in accordance with the company's capital strategy - and able to save further by reducing processing costs by spending time on other matters.

The combination of cloud services paired with mobile technology can result in higher levels of efficiency that have the potential of delivering significant positive impact to the company's bottom-line.

In addition, mobility helps ensure on-time payment with reduced DPO (days payables outstanding) and mitigates invoices that would fall into the 'past due' category and incur additional charges to the company, taking the back office from an expense center to a cash savings organization.

The next generation of field workers intuitively embraces technology and is ready to help move the oil and gas industry into the mobility era. Providing these workers with tools that are familiar to them will improve overall operational efficiencies.

This convergence of a new generation of oil and gas workers and an overhaul of workflow processes will revolutionize the industry. As technology continues to progress, field workers collecting data with meters, pads and pens will soon be a distant memory. Development in mobile applications is causing a dramatic shift in how the oil and gas industry does business. In fact, today 71% of employees in the oil and gas sector are already using their mobile devices for work purposes.



Richard Slack, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oildex, has more than 30 years of oil and gas industry experience, with the majority dedicated to developing, marketing, and selling software products and services. Oildex is a cloud-based, mobile software platform that simplifies financial and operational processes for oil and gas companies through the use of digital data and collaborative workflow tools.



Associated Companies
» Oildex

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» Oildex

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