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Almost 900 people traveled over a collective 500 thousand miles from across the U.S., Canada and beyond to attend the Best Practices for Oil and Gas in Houston in September.  Attendees heard keynote addresses from Neil Jacobstein, Robotics and AI professor; Isabella Groegor-Cechowicz and Ken Evans; millennial expert Christine Hassler; Statoil’s Jan Erik Lunde; PEMEX’s, Omar Palomino; and headlining Oil and Gas icon, T. Boone Pickens.  Our partners got great exposure and interaction in the demo area, including the popular “Community Corners” that offered over 80 additional scheduled demo sessions this year.  A charity called Wells for Water, a humanitarian initiative to raise money to drill water wells in Africa for those in need of clean drinking water, was promoted and raised nearly $12,000.

By almost any measure, the conference was a tremendous success.  Unlike many other events, content for the Best Practices for Oil and Gas conference was heavily influenced by industry through focus groups led by event organizer The Eventful Group, by SAP’s advisory council, and by the Americas SAP User’s Group (ASUG).  More details are available at www.sap-oil-and-gas.com

The following are my top ten takeaways from the event:

1.     It’s not just IT anymore                                       

Over half of this year’s presentations from industry were not from IT.  Industry leaders from HR, Procurement, CTO’s, and Operations were prevalent throughout the agenda.

This represents a significant shift from previous years, and implies that industry is focused on operations and other business functions more than ever.

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2.     T. Boone Pickens

What a headliner!  T. Boone showed that he can still draw a crowd, and sat in front of a packed auditorium and answered questions from moderator and SAP Americas President, Jennifer Morgan.  T. Boone has achieved tremendous success throughout his storied career, but it hasn’t all been wins.  He shared many of his successes, and some failures that he explained were mostly the fault of bad timing in the market.  He had the audience in stitches talking about why he has invested to heavily in Oklahoma State University.

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3.     Community Corners

A new attraction this year in the exhibition hall, each corner was dedicated to one of four O&G business priorities, where attendees could see demos of latest solutions, talk to experts, or sit down and have a discussion with others from industry.  These proved to be very popular, providing over 80 new demo sessions for attendees to see.

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4.     Sponsors

Nothing speaks more to the growing popularity of the conference than the number of companies wanting to be a sponsor.  The Eventful Group sold out early, and ended up with 41 sponsors of varying levels.    Sponsors also had access to the demo theaters in the Community Corners along with SAP.

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5.     Cloud is closer than you think

Even though O&G is considered a conservative industry, most are surprised to say the least at how quickly the industry is embracing Cloud technology as a way to achieve faster time-to-value, lower total cost of ownership, and better collaboration.

Multiple sessions were delivered on solutions in the Cloud, such as SuccessFactors, Fieldglass, and Ariba, and all were very well attended.

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6.     Production Management

IDC Energy Insights participated in the conference, and recently surveyed the market on the Top 10 Production Priorities of Oil and Gas companies.
What was number one?  Production Management.  This was great news to SAP and Accenture, who earlier in the year announced a strategic partnership to co-develop and co-brand solutions for this segment called, “Upstream Production Operations by Accenture and SAP”.  Both SAP and Accenture showcased the latest release at the conference that included deferment management, and a new user experience leveraging SAP’s Fiori.

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7.     Millenials

Christine Hassler, noted author and Generation Y expert, delivered a very popular keynote around the difference among the Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Gen Y in the workforce.  Why is this significant?  By 2025, Gen Y will account for 75% of the global workforce.

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8.     Simplify, Innovate, and Accelerate

Ken Evans and Isabella Groegor-Cechowicz delivered the SAP keynote, and the focus was on fueling business transformation.  They spoke about key technology trends, the new hydrocarbon reality and the resulting pressure on profits, and key innovations.  The underlying theme was to Simplify for efficiencies, Innovate to transform, and Accelerate with the SAP ecosystem and platform.

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9.     $90 a barrel oil

There was lots of buzz at the conference on the impact of “$90 a barrel oil” on the bottom line . . . and it’s only gone lower since the conference, to about $80 a barrel as of the time of this writing.  This on top of ever increasing costs, due in part to complex exploration projects, geo-political conditions, and asset availability.

In order to maintain margins at these prices, O&G companies have to focus on Operations more than ever.  Even the super-majors are now managing cost base, whereas in the past there didn’t appear to be a big focus.  Companies are increasing efficiencies with new business models of connected assets, integrated operations, workforce competency, and full cost awareness and control.

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10.   Wells for Water

Attendees were encouraged to help give the gift of life by donating to this unique cause started at and by Best Practices for Oil & Gas called Wells for Water.  For every dollar raised –lives can be saved by providing the water so desperately needed in sub-Saharan Africa. Every $22,000 raised will fund and maintain a series of wells to support an entire village.  At next year’s conference, we will get to see in pictures and video how those wells have helped changed the lives of countless folks that need our help desperately. 100% of donations go directly to fund the digging of new wells.

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Anyone can donate on their website at https://thewaterproject.org/community/profile/best-practices-for-oil-gas-conference

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