Ironically, the energy industry has some of the most advanced technologies available for gathering valuable data and some of the most counterproductive practices of locking this information up inside departmental silos as if it were a priceless commodity. But information is different from light sweet crude. In most cases, the more it is shared, the more valuable it becomes. 

That is the fundamental concept that drives a new generation of analytics solutions that take the volumes of Big Data generated by the energy industry and transform them into actionable insights that yield immediate performance improvements. 

A case in point is the industry’s traditional reliance on spreadsheets. When each cell is 3⁄16 in. by ½ in. and there are thousands of them to every page, it’s easy to miss vital data. And that is just the situation when one analyst looks at a spreadsheet. When that file never leaves the boundaries of its home department, the missed opportunities multiply even more quickly. 

Here are just a few questions whose answers are hiding in those miniature cells:
• What has the company spent year-to-date? Does it need to spend more quickly or pull back? 
• Are one company man’s jobs more expensive than another’s? 
• How does a company get value from terabytes of collected data? 

Big Data analytics provide new answers
Fortunately, fresh innovations in Big Data analytics give the energy industry two new capabilities: 
• Visualizations that can make problems, opportunities, outliers, anomalies and trends jump off the screen; and
• Communication technology that supports collaboration in real time and across departments, locations and regions. 

Today’s analytics can enhance understanding in virtually every key area, including downtime analysis, drilling and completion performance, water inventory and treatment, and health and safety performance. Unlike older generation analytics, which delivered static reports based on lagging indicators, companies can now take advantage of streaming intelligence and predictive capabilities.

Effective collaboration from multiple locations
These data-driven analytics are valuable in their own right, but when combined with a new technology called the Celero Command Center, their impact can increase. With it, everyone can view the same information no matter where they are located. This eliminates the need for mass group emails that don’t clearly communicate real events in real time.

The product lets each user create a news feed or channel that provides information related to any area of interest.

“A team leader can create a new channel and add members as easily as choosing people to add to a group email address,” said J.K. Kolmansberger, VisiQuate co-founder and president. “That’s just the beginning of the product’s personalization capabilities. It offers a number of windows that can be combined, including a video feed of real-time incidents and a group chat window that archives every conversation. Other windows include timeline views that precisely record a series of events, production analytics by well, mapping that highlights buffer zones and nearly every other visual insight that helps users understand exactly what is happening and how to best respond to it.”

With the Operations Exchange feature, users can openly communicate with other operators working in the same arena. Operators can exchange nonproprietary information that benefi ts all involved. This includes scheduled rig moves; well completions; heavy hauling schedules; and requests for services.

Instant ad hoc incident response teams
Another feature that seeks to add value is Situation Room. Because the product has channels that can be created by any user on an as-needed basis, it provides a way to assemble response teams for any incident, including spills, fires and accidents. The team leader selects from a collection of prebuilt widgets and places them on one screen that can be viewed on tablets, laptops and even large-screen displays at the offi ce. These widgets can include crisis maps, weather data, live video feeds, an interactive chat window and any other information needed to respond quickly.

Events can evolve quickly, making it diffi cult to document the path from problem to solution. Included with the product is a timeline view that sequentially tracks all phases of the team’s response in accordance with a company’s document retention policy. This timeline can be reviewed at a later date to document that the response team acted in compliance with all regulations.

“Everything in this business seems to be ‘rush, rush, rush.’ I understand the need for speed, but you don’t win a stock car race just by holding your foot to the floor and turning left,” said Larry DeFluri, president of Endless Mountain Energy. “You need a great crew, a clear view of the fi eld from your spotter and a strategy that will put you on top. That’s what analytics are doing for us.”

New level of precision, control
The Celero Command Center includes templates that let users create a project dashboard for nearly any type of project. These dashboards can manage the day-to-day activities of nearly any project and can publish all relevant information about the project to stakeholders across the company.

For a construction project, this could include pictures, timelines, a message board, bid documents, permits, contractor contacts, site plans and project directions. These data can all be integrated onto one high-level page, so users accessing this feed can quickly understand every phase. Just one click behind the main dashboard, a project summary page can deliver an overview of the project budget vs. actual expenses. When needed, third-party contractors can have limited access to the same information. 

Because projects vary so greatly, project templates are user-confi gurable to feature the most important aspects of each project. Templates can be downloaded for each new project and revised by users without help from IT specialists.

There also is a timeline feature that uses large, instantly understandable visualizations to track the entire project schedule, along with project status, scheduling and budget alerts.

For most companies, trying to build a system that turns volumes of Big Data into meaningful analytics can seem like an impossible task. Fortunately, these solutions have already been developed and field-tested.