During a meeting with representatives from our press relations company we were discussing (again) the impact of what we’re doing in bringing production reporting and hydrocarbon allocation online and delivering it as a hosted service. The fact is, I believe that this is not just an interesting alternative approach to software acquisition, but a radical departure that will transform our industry. I realised that the most important point is that we are driving costs down and dramatically enhancing quality, simultaneously and at a rate unequalled in the history of IT systems provision.
Of course, it obviously cannot make sense for a company whose core business is the extraction or processing of oil and gas to invest so much time, money and effort in maintaining IT infrastructure, in managing backups and storage, in patching operating systems and performing application upgrades, and in procuring new applications and hardware. It cannot make sense for those companies to be left with multiple incompatible systems as a result of takeovers or mergers, or to have to try to split systems when assets are sold. It cannot make sense to pay exorbitant amounts for expensive consultants to make what are frequently minor changes to systems. The argument is easiest made for smaller organisations, but it applies equally well to the majors in the industry. However, that’s only half the story; the quality and value arguments are equally if not more important.
As an example, when we started the ENERGYSYS service eighteen months ago (it seems like yesterday!) we clearly made quality backups a key component of our service, and included offsite backups. The data centre provided by our partners, NTT Europe online, is highly secure and has many features to guarantee continuity of service. However, back then we thought we might offer full disaster recovery services as a additional chargeable option. Now, though, we have implemented a complete disaster recovery service in a separate data centre and made it a standard feature, provided to all customers at no additional charge. So, for the same £500 monthly subscription a customer is getting a significantly enhanced service, and that’s just one example. Increasing quality, forcing down costs.
The extent to which Software as a Service will change our industry, and all industries, is only just becoming apparent, but in the next five years the impact will be revolutionary.