What a great day at the Global Energy Forum last week, and what a fantastic turnout.  I was down there in support of my customer Nalco, and their talk on using software to improve customer operations (press release here).

It’s always good to see what other verticals are doing, and there is a lot of good stuff going on in Oil & Gas, especially as it relates to collaboration and business intelligence.

The primary trend I see (and the same can be said in chemicals) is everyone is looking to get more out of what they have.  For many it means integrating capabilities (business intelligence and collaboration) into a common environment.  For those who have SharePoint, it makes for a perfect landing spot for your users to interact with business processes.

Our own Chris Van Dyke showed off a demo highlighting a scenario that surfaced SAIC and ESRI applications and data inside of SharePoint.  There were a couple of powerful things in this scenario – the web parts were all related so that when you changed your view (say focused in on an area of the field), the other web parts containing data and KPIs updated to reflect the focus.  Pretty powerful stuff.

What was even better, was his use of blogs and wikis integrated into this scenario.  As alerts and conditions happened, a blog was automatically updated along with sending out traditional alerts.  The blog contains a running context of issues found at the site, and the engineers and other folks interact and comment on the blog as they fix the problem.  Resolved issues requiring formal reports are then placed in a document management library (which could also be SharePoint) and linked in an area of the site Wiki.

What I liked about the scenario is Chris was bringing people into a common environment in support of a business process, and using technologies that support the teams resolving the process and capturing the data and knowledge in an easy and natural way.

It’s not always obvious the true value of exposing portions of these applications inside of SharePoint.  There is certainly value in showing data and information tailored to a role, but Chris took it a step further.  He has now integrated a key business process, the people, and the data into a common location.  The SharePoint site essentially becomes the place to go for information about the asset.  And with that, you gain other potential benefits - having the information online and available to a broad audience as part of your corporate knowledge.  Imagine being a new engineer to the site and logging on to see a history of all that has happened with this asset including the running commentary…maybe knowledge transfer doesn’t have to be so structured after all?

Maybe I can convince Chris to do a video of it…if he does, I’ll post it here.

-Brian