Not that very long ago, I succumbed and downloaded the Starbucks app to my phone. It was unpleasant to do so for all sorts of reasons. Being a fan of all kinds of coffee, it felt like sort of a false promise, like being a creep and leading someone on – I had no intentions of any sort of monogamous coffee behaviour. It also felt invasive, because it clearly was gathering intel, and it wanted money, and its phony cheerfulness (shove that “Good morning, Terry!” up your virtual a__ you little digital freak) did nothing but irritate me and make me loathe it.
Of course, every young person had it on their phone years before I did, and they weren’t bothered at all. And now I don’t mind at all tapping the little feed me/add money icon, and I appreciate watching reward stars pile up without having to carry some stupid loyalty card in a wallet overstuffed with loyalty cards.
The whole metamorphosis from cash-toting boomer to barista-tolerating moderate to app-happy hipster (not quite) is kind of analogous to the path the petroleum sector is on, or should be on. The word on the street is that the oil patch is kind of like curmudgeons that think apps are for tech-addicted millennials, that tech has gone too far, and that at the end of the day you really can’t beat a good old pencil.
The word on the street also, unfortunately, is a bit of a lament that many businesses are not open to new ideas/techniques/technologies. Not all of course, but I hear more often than not from entrepreneurs that “I can go to the US and get something going in a few days, and in Canada, nothing.” Obviously, that’s not a blanket statement, but the frequency indicates that there is some truth. I hear it from academics trying to get industry to utilize new research findings, from entrepreneurs trying to get a product in the door, from people who have gone to Europe and found a more welcoming response (this particular example from our legendarily hyper-conservative pipeline industry).
We can do better. We need to embrace and seek out the new, not sit back and wait to be convinced. Our industry doesn’t have a lot of luxury to be complacent. And we are making progress in a lot of areas, but perhaps we should think of “exploration” these days as being above ground.
Here is a small list of candidates that can add enormous value to the petroleum sector: Hawkiiii wireless sensors/IIoT. Crux OCM control room automation. Galatea Technologies oilfield waste disposal/transportation optimization. Eoncoat ceramic anti-corrosion coating. Proton Technologies hydrogen energy from oil reservoirs. Osperity intelligent monitoring/control. Silverwell Artificial Lift Intelligence. Algorithmica Techologies machine learning process optimization. BitCrude and CanaPux bitumen transportation initiatives.
There are many others; I simply can’t list them all but over time I will try. We need to embrace and nourish these businesses; they are the way of the future. Keep your eyes and ears open for them, not just new technology companies but companies discovering new ways of doing old things.
There is much to be gained by embracing new ideas and entrepreneurial visions and visionaries. First, the latest tech and tech applications can lower costs and/or increase operational efficiency, sometimes substantially. Second, the more these new companies are supported, the stronger our industry will be as it will attract new, younger participants. It is critical that the petroleum sector be forward thinking, particularly with the well-organized and well-funded hordes trying to bring it down. We all know also that petroleum demand continues to rise around the world; the more up to date we are technologically, the better positioned we’ll be to be a part of that future.
I’m walking the talk; I made peace with the Starbucks app and even the robo-greeting on my phone. Before long the robo-greeting became less annoying and I no longer wanted to burn down SBUX headquarters for perpetuating such insincerity. Was the e-greeting that terrible and fake, or was it any different than the forced, scorecarded, employee-manual, overly-cheerful glee that eager-for-ratings baristas display? Sure, I prefer the get-‘er-done, stoic purposefulness of Tim’s largely immigrant and motivated workforce, or the simple friendliness that independent places like Deville seem to inculcate. But that doesn’t mean that the Starbucks app is any less of a business masterpiece. It just works, and I’m sure it is hugely successful for business. It also means I spend far too much time in coffee shops, but that’s another issue entirely.
What’s relevant to consider here is: what could your business do with the oil patch equivalent of the latest and greatest apps? There’s a starter kit of names above. Go check them out and see what they can do for your business. Waiting can be deadly.
Let 2020 be a new era of respect for the fuel we require to survive, as we strive to do our jobs better and better. Pick up a copy of “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Indigo online. These Amazon reviews may be the wisest material you’ll find on the internet (except that one loser).