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Why Oil and Gas Software Providers Need To Raise Their Game!


Whether mapping potential reservoirs, reviewing completions or nearby well production performance, or sourcing the latest rig and permit information, oil & gas software – for all its recent technology innovations – still has its fair share of critics, mostly because of its lack of usability. There are two main reasons for this:

Over Complication

Firstly, too many oil & gas software packages are over-complicated. Sure, the science, data, and applications are often complex, but the software packages don’t help themselves with multiple and disparate workflows, tools, and databases.

It seems stunning that in today’s user-driven society, where companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google are developing ever more intuitive technologies, when it comes to oil & gas software the user’s needs tend to come a distant second to technology and functionalities.

Even though many oil & gas software designers have PhDs in mathematics, physics, computer science, and geophysics, they often lack the practical knowledge of what users really need and what it is like out in the field. Functionality trumps usability!

The result is that often the basics of oil & gas software are neglected. Take the manager/file tree that collates information, how much time does it take you to click and scroll to the information you need? Often the answer is too long!

From geologists and geophysicists working across multiple software packages and asset teams, to land men and business development teams spending hours at remote courthouses or wading through complex databases, this over-complication is being seen in the oil & gas industry every day.

Had Enough of Poor Software Usability

Reluctance to Change

Another reason for the lack of usability is the age-old desire to stick to the familiar and avoid change. With many companies locked into aging IT architectures and proprietary software, any change – with all the accompanying maintenance and training implications – is often viewed as being too cost-prohibitive.

Furthermore, sometimes even relatively small changes are not practical. One product I know has its algorithms and interface so embedded that any change to the interface would require a complete rewriting of the entire software package!

The Seven Key Elements Of Successful Oil & Gas Software

So, what are the key attributes you should insist on in your oil & gas software packages today? Below is a practical checklist.

1. The software must be intuitive and have a strong graphical interface:
By intuitive, I mean an interface that works the way the user does, where the most common functions are presented in one menu, rather than hidden away in multiple menus and rigid hierarchies that only make sense to the original programmer. The good news is that simple changes can be dramatic. Sometimes one screen change can lead to significantly improved productivity. Some questions to address:
Is my interface simple, only showing the tools I actually need? How many clicks does it take to source the information I want? Are the software’s most popular features up front? Are icons in a single place and are they different enough to avoid confusion? Is the terminology simple to understand and act upon?

2. The software must align with your needs: It may seem like stating the obvious, but make sure that you get the right software package for your business and data needs. Can you use the lighter, more agile (and cheaper) 80% software solution, or do you need the ‘all encompassing’ top functionality version with multiple toolboxes and the ability to handle huge amounts of data? Often the answer is a compromise between the two.

3. The software must be proactive and deliver dynamic data quickly: By proactive, I mean make sure that your software delivers the intelligent and up-to-date decision-making information you need today. Building a software-based sales engine that increases deal velocity and closure rates requires a proactive approach, active not static data, and actionable, real-time business intelligence that generates quality leads and opportunities.

4. The software must be flexible and mobile: The mobility and flexibility of your software is important as well. Today, users need to take their data and analytics software platforms beyond the office wall and their permit and rig data wherever they go.

5. The software must be customized: The goal of any oil & gas software solution is to provide tangible and customized data to help the end user businesses. There’s a need to customize leads and stop chasing down the wrong deals and there’s also the need to identify that hidden value that can help identify oil and gas lease and permit trends, and evaluate the quality of prospective reservoirs. That’s why dynamic, customizable intelligence aligned to customer’s specific needs is a non-negotiable element of any successful software package.

6. The software must leverage new technologies: It’s also important that your software leverages the latest technologies, whether analytics, artificial intelligence, or machine learning where computer systems learn, improve, and ‘evolve’ when exposed to new data.

7. The software must be integrated: Finally, integration. Communicating with your colleagues, partners, or consulting experts is key to any successful operation, and it’s vital that your software workflows take this into account, providing a seamless transfer of data between different disciplines, departments, and people. Ideally, users should be able to track the entire life cycle of a well with subsurface, land, rig, well, and production data all accessible from a single platform.

Business Value from Digital Technologies

What We’re Doing at Drillinginfo

At Drillinginfo, we are keeping these key attributes to a successful energy software package top of mind in everything we do, continuously improving our products and user experiences.

Firstly, all our workflows are intuitive and easy to use with modern, user-friendly interfaces via the Drillinginfo web app. The layout is customizable so users can organize their own data and filters and save entire workspaces for future visits.

Data is also dynamic and comes from the very latest and up-to-date sources with rig, permit intelligence, and drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells updated daily and over 95% of active rigs covered using GPS tracking and contractor reports.

Such data is also highly customizable and includes intelligence tools, such as VirtualScout™, ensuring that users receive the very latest information from their areas of interest (AOI) via customized notifications about rig and permit activity. By filtering through the noise, users can focus their resources on only the best opportunities.

Mobility is also a key element of Drillinginfo software with Android and iOS apps, users are able to take their permit and rig data wherever they go, adopt customer filters, and contact leads in a single click. Users can also access intuitive maps, search quickly to find rigs nearby, and generate and share competitive intelligence reports across their organization.

The latest data-advanced technologies within Drillinginfo software, such as probabilistic decline curve analysis and spatial and quantitative analysis tools, are also enabling operators to forecast more accurate estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) and accurately identify acreage positions.

Finally, there is integration – so crucial to seamless oil & gas operations and where large amounts of data must be incorporated into a single workflow. In the case of asset development, for example, drilling in a new area involves the need to understand reservoirs and completion methods from multiple data sources – something that can take months to achieve.

Today, the Drillinginfo web app can provide a single platform to analyze production across reservoirs and completion techniques and run financial modeling. In just a few minutes, engineers can identify the most profitable well type and propose a development plan covering multiple zones and development strategies – an example of true software and data integration.

Direct to the Bottom Line

Companies that spend less time finding, moving, and manipulating data and more time analyzing and incorporating it into decision-making are going to be more productive, make better decisions, and deliver direct to the bottom line.

Through a focus on intuitive interfaces, dynamic and customizable data, mobility and flexibility, the latest data analytics technologies, and the integration of data and workflows, Drillinginfo is achieving this and ensuring that energy software finally delivers for all.

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Martha Aviles

Martha Aviles has over a decade of diverse marketing experience in technology start-ups, private and public corporations, including SAAS, network security, and semiconductors industries. Martha has successfully led through 7 mergers and acquisitions, including managing several integration and acquisition exits. Martha’s background includes product marketing, public relations, messaging, positioning, analyst relations, lead generation, brand management and crisis communications.  Currently, Martha leads both customer training and product marketing for Drillinginfo. Martha has an MBA from The University of Texas, and holds a BBA from Texas A&M University.