by Valerie Jones, Careers Editor
In an age where employers across all industries are trying to do things better, smarter, quicker – and for less money – it sets the stage for innovative methods and adoption of new technologies.
In oil and gas, many exploration and production companies have had to halt operations, postpone projects and cut CAPEX in a number of ways as a result of a sharp decline in global commodity prices that began in 2014. So determining more cost-effective and efficient ways to get the job done has become a priority for many oil and gas employers.
And with a wave of millennials expected to enter the industry, bringing with them new ideas and undoubtedly, a hunger and love for new technology, it will be interesting to see how the future manifests.
Ross Forsyth and Matt McInerney are the founders of Viitori, LLC – a mobile business intelligence application for field crews in oil and gas. It took them six months to develop the app which they hope will solve decision-making impediments for the industry’s field workers. Rigzone caught up with the pair to discuss why they created Viitori, how the app will appeal to Baby Boomers and the future of mobile apps in the industry.
Rigzone: Describe your experience in oil and gas.
Forsyth: My experience in oil and gas has been concentrated in field work. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, I started as a field engineer working on a frac crew in Wyoming. I then transitioned to working as a field engineer in West Texas planning and performing production/completions operations. I have also worked in several other positions involving field and office engineering.
McInerney: My career has been in finance, first as an investment banker and recently transitioned to a corporate mergers and acquisition role for an IT services company. Though I’ve never worked directly in the industry, the investment bank I worked at specialized in restructuring and was particularly busy in oilfield services and equipment in the second half of 2014. Growing up in Oklahoma, my family was deeply connected to the industry and I helped my father with his research in using microorganisms to improve oil recovery.
Rigzone: Tell me about your app.
Forsyth: Viitori is a mobile app that allows the field user to remotely input production/completion job data into their mobile device using a smart workflow. The data is then returned to them in a spreadsheet with basic engineering analysis and a wellbore diagram. The spreadsheet can be easily integrated into current office workflows for tracking field variables.
Throughout my career, I have seen the redundant nature of field data reporting. First data is recorded into a tally book by field personnel, then after the work is completed at the end of the day, the data is entered into a reporting system. The next day the same data is checked and input into one-off spreadsheets for individual variable tracking. Many details are being left out with this “plan-perform-report” cycle. Viitori aims to report all the data in real time and on the fly while capturing greater details and saving time for both field and office personnel.
McInerney: When we started thinking about a name for this project, we were thinking about the future of field reporting not only in oil and gas, but in all industries. I’ve personally and professionally looked to invest in the mobile enterprise application market, which I estimate to be over $150 billion and others estimate as high as $280 billion in the next few years, thanks to the proliferation of BYOD (bring your own device) policies. Oil and gas takes up a small sliver of that market size despite being an inherently mobile industry. Bringing communication and analytics to a field worker’s fingertips will be a major driver to the future of employee productivity for both manual and knowledge workers. This idea that the future of the mobile enterprise technology is still in its infancy, particularly in oil and gas, led us to brand the app “Viitori,” which is Romanian for “future.”
Rigzone: Why should E&P companies use this app?
Forsyth: E&P companies will find that Viitori enables their field workers to report data in real time with the convenience of their mobile devices. The data will be returned in a comprehensive spreadsheet with all the necessary data and basic engineering analysis. Managers and engineers will be able to have this data in their hands quickly and in a form that makes it easy to analyze.
Rigzone: How will the app appeal to older field workers, perhaps Baby Boomers, who may be slower to adapt to new technology?
Forsyth: Baby Boomers are spending more time than ever on their devices – texting with their grandchildren, using FaceTime and sharing on social networks. Viitori is a natural progression to that. Mobile technology is a powerful tool in that it focuses the workflow and directs the content. This eliminates a common hurdle to the adoption of any new technology by providing easy access to the actual task at hand.
McInerney: User adoption is always an impediment. By now, even a tech-savvy corporation has likely participated in a very costly software implementation filled with headaches. The IT services industry is working to fix that problem by focusing on user-friendly designs and putting the software in the cloud to eliminate some of the issues with proprietary systems going haywire. Our goal as we continue to make enhancements to Viitori is to make sure that entering a day’s work on a smartphone is as intuitive as making a phone call.
Rigzone: What specific issues with the current methods used by field workers does the app address?
Forsyth: Viitori makes data reporting and analysis easier and more convenient than ever. I feel that the quality and detail of field data is directly proportional to the ease of input. With mobile technology, the ease of data entry is greatly enhanced. For instance, when perforating, it is paramount that depths, phasing, hole size and number of shots fired all be confirmed for each run and documented. This is a tedious task, one that often gets copied and pasted each time. With Viitori, entry of this data is quick and easy. I think E&P companies are going to find that they have better data and are in a better position to solve problems before they happen.
Rigzone: Experts are saying innovation will be the key to future success in the oil and gas industry. Do you think we’ll begin seeing more mobile apps in the industry? Specifically in E&P?
McInerney: Definitely. I think work in general is becoming more mobile with the idea of a central office becoming obsolete. Apps focus a workflow for specific functions so greater detail can be obtained on a certain task. This is a really good thing for field jobs, where work is done in one location and reported to a central office for analysis.
Forsyth: Viitori makes this process much simpler for E&Ps since so much of the work depends on field employees making important decisions in real time. With our app’s dashboards and a central platform for viewing the data coming this summer, I think field data analysis has a bright future.