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Beyond the Buzz: Customers Talk about the 3rd Platform

If you pay attention to the pundits, your head may be humming. The move to the 3rd Platform is reshaping the IT landscape and the very way we live and work. No matter your viewpoint, change is afoot, ushering in major implications and opportunities.

Specifically in the energy and engineering industries, the transition to the cloud and mobility are hot topics. In recent discussions with executives, these priorities rise to the top:

  • Every initiative is an important investment, regardless of size. Managing TCO is imperative.
  • Customers require secure ways to share and communicate with more people. Beyond their own company, they must collaborate efficiently with multiple, global suppliers.
  • Mobility and anytime, anywhere access are key.

I also hear a steady shift in attitude. Customers who were “not ready” just a year ago are now interested in exploring opportunities. There’s growing recognition that cloud-based solutions can play a role in meeting their most critical needs and enhancing today’s business processes.

A few recent conversations illustrate the intersection between this transformation and capabilities now available:

Streamlining collaboration

Joint ventures and extended supplier networks are a fact of life. At a recent meeting with an oil and gas company in Houston, we discussed challenges in dealing with external contractors. With some projects, they see 10 of these for every internal contact. That makes managing collaboration 90% of the job!

Electrical, mechanical and other engineers need to work together to review and approve documents—a process that requires tight control, but also speed and accuracy. With today’s cloud applications, it’s possible to increase the pace of collaboration as well as get transmittals and deliverables approved more rapidly. Information can be shared securely in discussion threads, and on site comments can be transmitted instantly via iPad. Workflows and turnarounds are improved, and suppliers can be more easily coordinated.

Mobility

During an event focused on operations and safety, attendees talked to me about increasing compliance. For example, a plant manager wants to speed up field reports on gas line maintenance issues. He is also required to help his organization meet tight budgets. Using devices in the field would be a welcome capability, and it’s one that can be delivered by many next-generation applications.

Operators who encounter corrosion or damage take a picture on their phones. The image, along with GPS location and notes, is transmitted to the database for immediate attention. And record keeping and reporting are automated, all of which help to improve compliance.

Security and rights management

While meeting with a major U.S. EPC, they shared a real concern about security. A global operation, they transmit their designs and confidential information electronically. Specifically, this EPC shares data between more than 200 suppliers in over 20 countries (and that’s before accounting for the subcontractors!), and they need to ensure its security.

Recent leaks in China are on their mind, as well as many other organizations’. Making the important choice of public or private cloud depends on your specific concerns. Luckily, now it’s possible to bridge between these options. And companies that used to avoid certain opportunities are now more open to them due to proven strong controls and rights management tools.

These examples make it clear that the transition to the 3rd Platform isn’t driven by consultants or the media. It’s propelled by real-world demands and the changes that energy organizations are making to survive and succeed. Our plan? To keep listening and support your progress.

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