Microsoft held a webcast this month on ‘Excel Intelligence for Oil and Gas (EIOG).’ The event focused on the amount of business critical upstream information that is ‘locked away in myriad Excel spreadsheets scattered across the desktops of your global enterprise.’ A worthy target indeed!
Much of the webcast was devoted to presenting the business case for better management of such disparate and disseminated data sources – with particular reference to the upcoming ‘big crew change.’ But how is EIOG going to lead to ‘one version of the truth’ and how will it enable ‘better business decisions through real-time, reliable access to mission-critical information.’
Microsoft’s oil sector industry manager Marisé Mikulis described how Microsoft’s pervasive use of XML in its latest Office tools – and in particular, in Excel – is set to make it much easier for corporations to standardize data exchange and create structured data – separating content from meaning. Mikulis (who was previously with POSC) was only half joking when she said that oil and gas ‘generates more standards than any other industry.’
XML provides a bridge between different ‘standards’ and makes for ‘easily searchable data, displayed by all Office products’. Such solutions will be ‘easy to deploy’ and will integrate other industry standard environments like SAP and Oracle.
The engine behind the scenes is Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal Server. A new Data Store secures data captured in local Excel spreadsheets, controls access levels, ensures scalability and provides analytical capabilities.
Despite the vaunted ease of use, Microsoft recommends professional help for deployment. Companies with oil country experience of Microsoft systems include Microsoft/Accenture joint venture Avanade, Meridio (which adds ‘robust document management’ to Microsoft’s product line) and OutlookSoft (which embeds links to data stores into vanilla Excel).
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