The Oil And Gas Information Technology Innovation Dilemma
The hydrocarbon logistics chain of natural gas and crude oil connects globally distributed exploration and production sites with industrial and private consumers via pipelines, tankers, rail cars, and trucks with massive intermediate buffering storage and conversion facilities (tank farms, refineries, gas plants); it is the lifeblood of our energy supply chain today and for the coming decades.
More than 75 million barrels of oil and 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas are produced, transported, and consumed all over the globe — every day. Along the complex transportation chain, these special bulk products, both liquids and gases, are transferred between the different modes of transportation, resulting in a number of challenges based on complex measurements of product volumes and masses:
Measurement accuracy. In an ideal world, we would always determine the mass of crude oil and natural gas at each measurement point; however, due to the large quantities involved, weighing is possible only at the very end of the logistics chain. Consequently, we have to live with measurement data that typically carries an uncertainty of 0.1% to 0.5 %, depending on the measurement devices’ intrinsic accuracy.
On my Q3 research agenda is a document reviewing typical BI software pricing configurations. Unfortunately, I find that just asking vendors whether they have this or that pricing policy (by number of named users, number of concurrent users, server type, etc.) usually just gets me “Yes, we have it all” or “It depends” answers. Not really useful. So this time I plan to nail down the vendors to three specific quotes given three very specific configurations. Here’s my first cut at the RFQ. I plan to send it out to:
All of the large BI vendors covered in our BI Wave
For the past couple of months, we have been working on identifying best practices for application development and delivery teams executing on multichannel strategy. The related report will get published soon. We found that application development and delivery teams need to be successful in the magic triangle of delivering a multichannel solution: 1) tactically; 2) in a strategic way; and 3) fast.
Oracle announced yesterday that it has agreed to buy web content management (WCM) vendor FatWire. The prominent vendors in the WCM market have been flying off the shelves – relatively speaking – over the past few years as larger vendors recognize the value of content management and delivery platforms as part of an overall digital customer experience management (CXM) portfolio. After all, you can’t really manage experiences without a content foundation, can you? To this end, Adobe acquired Day, Autonomy acquired Interwoven, and now this latest deal. Oracle didn’t reveal how much they paid for FatWire (too bad, because there’s nothing we analysts love more than debating whether or not someone overpaid/underpaid for a company).
FatWire’s acquisition has been a foregone conclusion in WCM circles for some time now, since it was one of the last independent vendors with a proven enterprise track record. Many have speculated on possible FatWire suitors over the past few years, a list that has included at times IBM, and fellow WCM vendor Interwoven, prior to its own acquisition by Autonomy. FatWire has had a dalliance with enterprise content management vendor EMC over the past year or so; the two began a strategic partnership, with EMC acquiring a minority stake in FatWire and promoting it as its solution in the CXM space. However, EMC later struck another partnership with SDL Tridion, so it appeared that the bloom was off the rose in the EMC/FatWire romance, and prospects for EMC’s full acquisition of FatWire grew dim.
How do you know how well your customer service offering compares with best practices? How do you know what to do to differentiate yourself from your competitors? To answer this question, I put together a Best Practices Framework that you can use to assess your current capabilities. There’s an associated tool in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows you to evaluate yourself against 150 best practices, organized in eight different categories grouped into the four dimensions of strategy, process, technology, and people. Here’s a quick synopsis of the eight categories:
Customer service strategy. What is your customer service strategy across all the communication channels you use to interact with your customers and how does that strategy incorporate the voice of the customer (VoC)?
What are the right metrics to track the success of a CRM initiative? I just updated my report on this topic for 2011. The report illustrates over 70 different metrics and describes how to link them to business strategies and tactics.
What’s new in the report? My clients are incorporating new measures into their portfolio. In addition to traditional operational metrics, they are adding externally focused customer perception metrics. In particular, I see a rise in adoption of voice of the customer (VoC) metrics and “social metrics”:
Forrester’s book Groundswell made the power of social media tangible with real-world examples and laid out a framework to help onboard organizations. However, many companies today still struggle to benchmark their social media journey, manage bottom-up social activities, and prove the ROI of social media activities. The new chapters published in the just-released expanded and revised edition of Groundswell highlight some best practices. Here are some of them:
Understand why you are embarking on the social journey, and connect social media objectives to the company strategy. Ask hard questions like “Will my social presence help move the customer satisfaction needle?”, “Will it help sell more products?”, and “Will it deflect costs from my service center?”.
Treat social media as another channel in which to engage customers. Customers still want to call you (a surprising 67% of the time), email you, and chat with you. Make sure that your processes, policies, and communicated information are the same across all channels — traditional and social.
Connect your social media efforts. There may be many social media technologies used within your company. Ensure that there is some level of coordination between internal organizations so that you can uphold a consistent experience and brand for your customers.
Start small and staff social media initiatives with existing employees who understand your customers and your business. This is important to help extend your brand — your DNA — to your social channels.
Practically everyone who visits the Vatican stops to take a picture of the Swiss Guards. Ditto for the Queen's Guard at Windsor Castle, the Royal Life Guards at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, and the Evzones at Greece's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Those multicolored uniforms may not have a place on the modern battlefield, where camouflage is far more important than panache, but they do attract the tourists.
If, by this measure, these ceremonial units have some value (albeit none militarily), why not have more of them? You could post the newly created Sartorial Guard at tourist locations that haven't been attracting enough foot traffic lately. And who knows, they might even attract more recruits into the real military. (Though I'm not sure what the career path is once you've held the rank of Feldweibel in the Swiss Guards.)
Obviously, I'm not being serious. Once you start manufacturing new ceremonial units, you cheapen the brand. You don't need more than one as a "loss leader" in the military, and there's no need to get the people who actually fight up in arms. Figuratively, that is.
Here's why managing a portfolio is critical for managing products. It wouldn't be hard to find some enterprising "champion" for a new Swiss Guards-ish unit who was willing to sew the uniforms and stand around looking fierce. (We call them re-enactors, and we don't put them on the public payroll.) No matter how much attention they attract, they'll still be a failure from a national perspective.
Just recently, I had an interesting customer experience — or, to be more precise, my daughter had it, as it involved her laptop computer from one of the top international Internet PC vendors. It was only a little defect — more an annoyance than a real fault. Since we bought “next business day service,” it should have gotten fixed right away. It played out differently in real life.