IBM and Geco-Prakla stress importance of Inter/Intranets and Connectivity (June 1997)

In separate presentations, Alan Bays (IBM) and John Kingston (Geco-Prakla) analyzed the way in which communication technology is revolutionizing business practices.

Bays pointed out the paradox of how a consumer driven technology (Internet) is in many cases outstripping business infrastructures and technology This kind of consumer led activity is of particular importance in developing countries where for instance, cellular phone technology is bypassing the aging telecommunications infrastructures, allowing a kind of technological leapfrogging. These technologies are also allowing the formation and growth of smaller "virtual" organizations, and Bays claimed that many smaller organizations have better IT than their larger cousins. This may seem a strange view coming from IBM, but it is one that our white-hot technologists at PDM wholeheartedly share. Bays estimates that by the year 2000 there may be as many as 100 million computers connected to the Internet. IBM are investing heavily in this technology with PetroConnect, an electronic commerce, GIS based access tool for a range of third party vendors' data. You can check it out at It is an attractive tool, but as of now does not seem to offer a great deal more than you can find on the web elsewhere (at least not in the parts of the world that we pointed and clicked on). PetroConnect's success will of course depend on the extent to which third parties populate it with their data. This in turn is more likely to revolve around the charges that IBM levies on the third parties, rather than the $19/month those PetroConnect charges per user. Most international oil companies should be able to stump up that much without a rights issue.

High bandwidth

Kingston's view of the web and of high bandwidth communication links was of a more seismic bent and illustrated how these technologies were being used to pump very large seismic datasets around. Currently bandwidth of around 2Mbps is achievable in a ship to shore environment, with up to 2.2 Gbps available inter-city. To put this into context, a 500 square kilometer prestack seismic survey can be transmitted overnight at a modest 88 Mbps, with data compression accelerating this even more. Putting this into practice, a recent survey conducted in Croatia was transmitted variously to Norway, Italy and the UK. This saved the operator 3 months in the seismic operations, and brought production forward by an estimated 5 months. Another client operating an offshore survey puts all faxes, report and other documentation onto a server on the boat, which was then mirrored by satellite to a remote site. Using a web browser, these documents were imported to local applications. Fold diagrams, QA, navigation data and the like are then all available in the processing house. Looking into the future, but not that far, Kingston anticipates 8Mbps for mobile remote stations in a couple of years, allowing for compressed data transmission in real time, while full prestack uncompressed datasets will have to wait for 5 or 6 years – that assumes of course that the volumes involved do not increase as quickly as transmission rates.

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