IM Experts in E&P

EIM Trends 3: Capturing value from the confluence of an evolving digital culture and new technologies

Date: 31/10/2011

In the previous two blogs, we considered the evolution of a new kind of user, and the new kinds of hardware and content available to those users. It would be interesting to look at how the two come together to offer value through new ways of working, new opportunities exploited and so on.

In this blog we look at three notable trends that this coming together of new people and new technologies is leading to. There are no doubt countless others, but the following key trends are noted here:

    1. The blurring of boundaries between organisations, employees and their markets
    2. The cloud, in all its forms and how there is concurrence in individuals' and organisations' behaviour, but still a gap between the two
    3. A plethora of new types of information - some of it ‘covertly' collected but ultimately all needing to be controlled and managed

1. Increased synergy and better interaction between organisations and individuals is causing a blurring of the traditional boundaries between a company, its people and its market; supported by the new mobile technologies and social computing paradigm. Interesting questions are raised about where the company ends, where the market begins, and to what extent it is all a big community of interest now - undoubtedly it still needs to serve the company's competitive advantage needs, but is there a power shift away from the organisation or is this simply a way of re-enforcing it through encouraging pro-active engagement by their customers?

Consider for example, companies reaching out directly to:

a. Their staff - "suggest our new corporate tagline" worldwide intranet competition at Siemens IT Solutions. In this instance, the technology is simply a facilitator for the organisation's business activities but is also enabling it to tap into the wider corporate brain. It is not that it could not be done before, but it was all a lot more ‘clunky', thereby reducing the chance of good response rates.

b. Their customers - or other retailers gathering information, interpreting it and then using it for personalised sales pushes through recommendations and complementary products, and an increasing number using natural language processing to second guess what customers are really looking for.

Let us also not forget the increasing willingness of people to review products and services online, which is having a notable effect on the way services are delivered . Think of the effect that Tripadvisor reviews are having on the hotel industry across the world. Or the role played by potential users of a product influencing its design - Alfresco is a content management system where a community of developers and would-be users get a say. The company believe that their open source model "allows Alfresco to use best-of-breed open source technologies and contributions from the open source community, to get higher quality software produced more quickly at a much lower cost".

c. The public - harnessing the power of ‘crowd sourcing'. An example of crowd sourcing cited by Open Text recently, is the example of Barrick Gold;

In 2000, the company abandoned the industry's tradition of secrecy, making thousands of pages of complex geological data available online, and offering $575,000 in prize money to those who could successfully identify where on the Red Lake property the undiscovered veins of gold might lie. Retired geologists, graduate students and military officers around the world chipped in. They recommended 110 targets, half of which Goldcorp hadn't previously identified. Four-fifths of them turned out to contain gold. Since then, the company's value has rocketed from $100m to $9bn, and disaster has been averted.

A more recent example can be seen in action, at , an initiative by the Public Catalogue Foundation in partnership with the BBC, attempting to classify the UK's paintings for effective search, encouraging members of the public to tag them, generating a "folksonomy" or social tagging regime in the cloud.

2. The second theme emerging relates to the cloud. What we are seeing is that users are becoming comfortable sharing personal content in the cloud, using repositories such as Google Docs, FlickR and so on. Similar drivers (hosting, support and upgrade costs, scalability etc.) mean it is often only a small logical leap for organisations to move their content to third party managed specialist providers who, in turn, pass on their economies of scale and expertise to their clients. Their off-the-shelf solutions for compliance, security and integration with other systems will suit many, though not all corporate customers.

This apparent concurrence in domestic and organisational trends is a positive one, but it is arguable that organisations are way behind the domestic curve, and are far from exploiting its full potential. In the first blog we talked about people doing their own thing if the organisation cannot keep up. The response of organisations has on the whole, been to try to stop it, and secondly to try doing it themselves, but usually struggling to make a success of it.

We can see in the proliferation of video capture and viewing devices and cloud based storage, that rich content is accessible almost anywhere, anytime. It is now commonplace in the home to look up that new recipe or DIY activity on YouTube and there are examples of this behaviour being transferred into the workplace. This is essentially what aircraft maintenance staff are doing - generating and sharing video clips on hand held devices to complement, or even replace weighty training manuals (an example can be found at The trend is clear; video with sound trumps words with diagrams; but who is controlling the content? Could a company like Airbus or Boeing tolerate this? More on this in the next blog.

3. On the final theme of an explosion in the number and type of information sources, we have seen the sources of information flowing into organisations both overtly ("complete an online registration form") and covertly (by capturing customers' IP addresses for example) have increased hugely in volume and complexity. Examples include web based self-service workflows, loyalty cards such as Nectar, or swipe cards such as Oyster - and the more transactional information that can be captured the better. Companies are reaching out to customers through social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and immersive environments like Second Life and NearLondon, to project themselves effectively to the appropriate digital audience, but at all times gathering any information they can.

This wealth of information is extremely varied in its forms, but is always invaluable to organisations for compliance or commercial profiling purposes, and needs to be stored, managed and mined effectively, just as with more traditional documents, to enhance competitive advantage.

Comments Comments (0)

Add Comment
Please Note fields marked with an asterisk * are required
Type in the two words

Client Spotlight


From advisory services and data management through to EIM, Venture has delivered a wide range of Information Management solutions to BP’s upstream business