Cadeon Associates Inc. is an Information Services Company located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Cadeon helps its enterprise clients turn information into real value. Whether they use the information to keep people safe, maximize the return on their assets, predict and avoid risks or find new ways of staying competitive, Cadeon is there to show the way with modern tools and services. Their goal is to help organizations “leverage ALL of your information so that you can fuel your company with it.” 

As Attivio’s partner, Cadeon works with a number of industries on their information management needs, including the Oil & Gas industry. Phil Unger, Cadeon CEO, shared the story of one particular Canadian Oil & Gas company for whom they helped set up an initiative to use data and content as strategic assets to provide competitive advantage.

 Phil Unger, CEO of Cadeon, an Attivio Partner

The Back Story

The Oil & Gas company needed to find a faster, more efficient way to feed its data and content into its analytics tools. Information was located in many different places - engineers with a lot of tacit information in their heads, business intelligence reports that show oil production curves, external reports, and more. New people were hired to assemble all this information (structured and unstructured) and create a new metadata library.

Pulling information together was a very manual process. The sheer volume of data that needed to be sorted through meant the company needed an automated solution, something that would create and organize the metadata. Employees weren’t able to extract the same amount of value pulling everything together manually because it took too long and the potential to miss things was enormous. How could the company show what is related to what based on the key entity, the Unique Well Identifier (UWI)?

It Started With a Discovery Exercise

After seeing a webinar for Attivio and TIBCO Spotfire (an Attivio partner), the team leader responsible for creating the metadata library for the Oil Sands group engaged Cadeon to present the Attivio solution to their group.

Unger delivered his first presentation to a group of 20+ engineers and told them the story using a Spotfire and Attivio demo already constructed for the Oil & Gas industry. It was the one of the most interactive sessions Unger has ever done.

The engineers were the people that knew they would be much more productive if they had a single solution that unified all the information necessary to make decisions, including internal well drilling information, external industry reports, and more.

The project started as a discovery exercise for the Oil Sands group, where they identified a base set of requirements. Then they brought in the Attivio technology and surfaced the critical data for a pilot.

The pilot with Attivio and Spotfire, Unger said, was really about answering three questions:

  1. Pulling the business intelligence together to tell what happened,
  2. Understand why it happened, and
  3. How it happened.

Unger said the discovery exercise was a smashing success.

“It was one of those things where you start down the journey and see what you can get, then realize you can get answers to other questions. It gave them the power to ask the next couple of questions because they were able to get very quick answers to the first couple of questions they had.”

The best part of Attivio for Oil & Gas, or any vertical, according to Unger, is that it unifies the data and the content. Without a tool like Attivio, you are trying to cross a chasm. When you are analyzing structured data alone, you can answer the first question – what happened. Adding unstructured content, such as maintenance notes and drilling reports, gives the context to answer questions 2 and 3, why something happened, and how. This sets the foundation for predictive analytics – when will it happen again?

Diving into the Pilot and Beyond

For the pilot, the team followed an agile approach, delivering a working, interactive application early and often. They kept the business team very engaged. Interacting with working software and real data enabled the client group to course correct depending on what they saw.

That pilot was then implemented into production with additional sources and functionality, going live in August 2014.

The benefits that Attivio brought to the table are wide-ranging. For example, Unger said the company invests tens of millions a year in joint ventures -- there could be multiple companies involved in different aspects of drilling a single oil field. The data for any given joint project could offer valuable insights, such as where to invest for the next joint venture, but they have never been able to capitalize on the information. Now, Attivio enables the company to connect its internal information with this joint venture data, offering global visibility into the project so they can confidently seize future opportunities.

The company has also seen impressive productivity gains. One example is a single activity that took eight hours is now reduced to one hour, for an 800% gain.

Understanding Information Chaos

According to Unger, the Oil & Gas industry is crippled under the weight of its information, and the worst part is they don’t see it. With oil dropping in price (not a good thing for the oil companies), there have been massive layoffs, and everyone is forced to do more with less. These companies are also losing all the tacit knowledge as people leave. “It’s really a perfect storm for a tool like Attivio.”

Unger spoke of one company which did a survey and found they were spending 60-70% of their day finding information just to do their jobs. Worse yet, when they found it, they had to QC (quality control check it) it because they didn’t trust it.

“There are so many sources, how do you know what is the best? What Attivio can do for Oil & Gas is the whole unification of the information, show them multiple sources in a Google-like interface (a single pane) where they can just pick the ones they need.”

Unger said organizations need to get to this place where they can shed all the pounds of duplicate information and bad quality data (what Cadeon refers to as Corporate Information Obesity™ (CIO)), and lean out. Cadeon is also a Spotfire partner (it has an analytics practice) and it sees organizations looking for a crystal ball kind of experience where they can use their data to make the best decisions rather than drive by intuition or feel.

Still, how do they know if they are making the best decision? “The only way you know is if you have all the data.” 

“They say information is your greatest corporate asset, but it’s still not at the place where we believe people are using it, and it’s not a skill set that’s readily available.” 

There is also a lot of redundant data that could be purged according to Unger, but because there’s no governance around how information is gathered -- it doesn’t happen. Cadeon likes to introduce lightweight governance because it has seen big governance projects fall flat. Most companies won’t invest time and money into big projects like that. They need “just in time governance,” leveraging systems in the process.

Data - The Silent Killer

Unger likes to refer to data as the silent killer. He said organizations know they are not as productive as they could be because they are weeding through a digital landfill to find what they need. The first part of the solution is admitting you have a problem, and the second is finding out how big it is.

Cadeon takes companies through a four-step process:

  1. Data discovery through visualization - see what data they do have.
  2. Virtualize as much data as they can and make it easy for people to access.
  3. Build the business glossary so everyone speaks the same language.
  4. Unification of the data.

Attivio plays a key role in this entire process.

Your Data Call to Action

Unger pointed out that in the next five years we’ll add 2.5 billion people to the Internet. That means more data - how much more information are organizations going to have to process?

“We know where the future is going - a lot more information growing massively. We have to start looking at this now. If you don't have a good handle on your information and something changes (like commodity prices), you are paralyzed.”


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Attivio partner Cadeon shares a #DataDiscovery success story from the Oil & Gas industry