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Facebook Comes Of Age in the Oil and Gas Industry

Microsoft’s CEO told an audience at the Global Energy Forum in Houston that utilizing data quickly is as important as drilling a well. Ed Mayberry reports that the IT community sees the potential to increase its business in the oil and gas industry.


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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says IT investments declined in the global economic downturn and capital spending budgets were slashed, but industry leaders recognize the need for investment to improve productivity.  A survey released at the seventh annual Microsoft Global Energy Forum finds that 73 per cent of oil and gas professionals are using social media tools such as blogs or even Facebook in their work.  Craig Hodges is the General Manager for Manufacturing and Resources in the United States for Microsoft.

“The Collaboration and Social Media Survey with our partner Accenture reveals some really interesting data.  What it basically says is that there’s lots of industry professionals who are ready to do more advanced collaboration.  However, you know sometimes the companies are lagging a little bit behind on that, in terms of their adoption.  People want the same kind of tools in their office that they have in their home, like Facebook and instant messaging at home—they want those same kind of things in the enterprise, and this survey points that out very clearly.”

Ed: “Everything synchronized, all the hand units. all of that.”

“Everything synchronized.  They want the same experience on their mobile phone as they have on their laptop computer, and they have that, they want that same experience on their browser when they’re at home, and don’t, not want to fire up their laptop.”  

Data can be stored and accessed in remote centers, reducing the need to build on-site computer servers.  Communication tools can help the oil industry interpret geological data, but Hodges says it links employees around the world.  But Facebook?

“Oh, well, the big challenge, of course is that, with the global nature of this industry, you’ve got people scattered all over.  You’ve got suppliers and partners that collaborate with you on projects in the field.  This social networking stuff lets you make those connections much more seamlessly.  It accelerates cycle time predominantly.”

Ed: “And people are sort of combining their private and professional tendencies, anyway, I guess.”

“Oh, that’s the whole consumerization of IT.  And you’ll see that as a big push from Microsoft in terms of the same kind of technologies you find at home, again, you want them in your business exactly the same, and that’s the big challenge for lots of these big companies.”

The oil and gas industry represents about $5 billion of Microsoft’s $60 billion in sales each year.

“Many of our clients are implementing these same kind of technologies.  We need everybody to, and we believe our technologies capabilities—coupled with that of our partners—will greatly accelerate the cycle time and productivity that our customers need.  Most of the uptake so far is really from a grassroots perspective.  Lots of individual work groups are wanting to work this way, and they’re figuring out how to do it.  The challenge is that corporations need to get policies and securities behind this, to get the broad adoption that’s required.”