There is a new face of today’s energy industry: scientists.
Unlike any other industry in the world, the modern energy industry brings together a diverse array of experts. Chemists. Geologists. Engineers. Physicists. Leading minds capable of locating undiscovered reservoirs, extracting chemicals at the molecular level, and efficiently utilizing previously-thought untappable resources.
Today’s energy companies are filled with experts of a different stripe as well — smart grid designers, energy market makers, regulatory environment minders, and millions of other specialist roles that contribute to making the industry one of the world’s most profitable even as the sources of energy become more expensive.
All that intellect is essential — because today the energy industry is beset by complexity on all sides.
Regulators have proven quick to legislate how energy companies can do business, often restricting processes or subsidizing new technologies well before any evidence of their outcomes can be produced. Such regulation is seldom sweeping; rather, it is limited to certain practices in certain places at certain times. For large energy concerns, it’s a regulatory environment that virtually mandates attempting to do business one way in one place, and another way elsewhere.
Markets, too, offer a host of challenges. Top of mind for virtually every energy company today is the United States’ shift toward energy independence, and the resulting boom that’s resulted in alternative oil production, domestic mining and drilling, and natural gas production.
Yet another challenge looms inside office walls. The entire industry is seeing its talent pool shrink, with seemingly few options for maintaining the specialized expertise today’s energy companies rely on. Schools are producing fewer scientists, and as existing institutional and technological experts look toward retirement, the threat of losing market share to brain drain has become very real.
But there is reason to maintain high expectations. After all, if any business has proven adept at finding new resources and adapting to new conditions, it’s the energy industry.
Today the energy industry has turned to technology for an ally in almost every aspect of doing business. While many of the technologies now essential to these businesses are proprietary specialized tools designed to address niche opportunities, one stands apart as a flexible, versatile means that helps companies do more in almost any environment — video.
Video is helping energy companies make their expertise more agile — capturing innovations in extraction, manufacturing, refining, and distribution, preserving institutional knowledge, and sharing ideas and information vital to sustaining ROI even while resources fall and regulations mount.
Demonstrating and reviewing processes
While the energy industry’s products often go unseen — recognized only after the fact, when the lights do turn on, the car does speed up, or the gears do start spinning — its processes are often the subject of scrutiny.
Energy companies must be able to visually demonstrate processes to prove compliance with regulations, as well as show ability to meet market, customer, or partner demands. Demonstrating processes can also yield internal benefits — lean production or continuous improvement teams may identify opportunities to improve efficiency, save costs, or enhance safety.
Yet conducting regular on-site demonstrations is no small task. Refining and processing environments are often not conducive to physical tours — and some production and extraction locations may not actually be accessible at all. And even when locations may be accessible, on-site demonstrations are often unadvisable for reasons of safety, security, and production efficiency.
Video offers an alternative means for energy companies to show how their processes actually work. Video technology makes it easy to record and share processes in action, even those that take place on remote drilling platforms or offshore wind farms. Such recordings make it easy to capture regulatory or safety protocols in action, document processes and identify issues for continuous improvement, or simply monitor ongoing activities in these important investments.
Preserving and sharing institutional, technical, and scientific knowledge
The modern energy industry relies on a bevvy of PhDs tapping a career’s worth of experience to squeeze out every last spark from existing resources. It’s a lifetime’s work of driving down production costs, identifying new resource opportunities, and managing markets to ensure intelligent capacity and distribution.
But losing experts doesn’t have to mean losing their expertise. As the New York Times has noted, more and more organizations are using video to preserve all that knowledge while employees are still on staff — so it can be referenced and utilized even after a team member leaves.
For an industry often at the forefront of chemical and geographical research — not to mention regulatory adaptation, geopolitical negotiation, and enhanced, “smart grid” distribution — creating a library of that knowledge will likely be essential to preserving the detailed information teams rely on every day to build market share for their organization.
Video makes creating just such a library easy — instead of relying on dense technical writing, experts can simply click “record” and present what they know. A modern video platform like Panopto makes it easy to record with any webcam, capture the contents of a computer screen with presentations, data, or other visualizations, and even record and sync multi-camera views from specialized video cameras and HD camcorders so your experts can truly show what they know.
Better equip field technicians to report and repair issues
Whether it’s at the extraction site or on the last mile of distribution, energy companies rely heavily on the capabilities of their teams in the field to make sure everything works as it should. But as processes become ever more complex, with ever more technology required just for day to day business, the weight of their roles is creating two big challenges for many specialists.
First, field team members must now see and document more than ever before — every last data point on an increasingly long checklist. Moreover, as these employees are often the first line of defense against catastrophic breakdowns, they must also note problems and find a way to clearly communicate issues back to management.
Second, as field teams prepare to remediate issues, the massive growth in technical complexity in the energy sector makes it more difficult for even the best specialist to understand the inner workings of every last process and component. Technical manuals offer some relief, but the dense nature of their text has been known to lead to further confusion — and even more issues.
A modern video platform, however, helps energy companies address both these concerns. Video recordings of maintenance check-ins can be used to supplement traditional reviews — and a new generation of wearable cameras like Google Glass can even allow technicians to capture that video hands-free. Likewise, video provides field team members with a quick and easy way to document and share issues — with visual clarity that text reports can’t match.
Video is also a valuable tool for offering on-demand training, on-location. Field team members preparing to remediate an issue inside a transfer station, for example, may use their laptop to call up a video walkthrough of the transfer station type in question — then use their smartphone to play a step-by-step guide to fixing the problem while they work, helping to reduce errors by allowing them to literally see each step as they go.
Enhance and scale safety, HR, and skills training
As processes become more intricate and just about every role more complicated, delivering regular, detailed, and accessible employee training has become essential for most energy companies.
The rapid pace of today’s energy industry has made the issue of training truly critical — not only do companies need to ensure employees understand all the new processes and technologies introduced seemingly every day, but as the industry experiences a wave of mergers and acquisitions, more and more HR teams are being tasked with making sure all those former competitors are brought up to speed on the right way to do things in the new organization.
Yet it’s no longer enough to leave a manual at an employee’s desk, or to hold occasional in-person classes on a few select topics. In order to help employees succeed, organizations need to provide access to as rich a library of training and instructional information as possible.
Fortunately, video makes it easy to build and share a library of training materials. Using no more than just a standard laptop webcam and PowerPoint, most businesses can easily record a vast amount of training material, which can be uploaded into Panopto and shared instantly with employees to view on any device. And there’s virtually no limit to what video training can teach — already Panopto customers use video to train on compliance requirements from HR, safety best practices, role-specific skills training, benefits planning, and almost anything else.
Internal knowledge sharing on market, scientific, or regulatory opportunities
Media coverage of the energy sector often leads outsiders to believe the industry relies on great flashes of innovation, discovery, or insight in order to make advances. The next big oil strike, the next revolution in solar, the next wave in battery power — the notion that the industry moves in giant leaps is common. It’s also absolutely wrong.
Studies have shown that people achieve greater success more rapidly through steady incremental improvements derived from social learning. Waiting for that “eureka” moment is wasted time — teams go farther when they test and build little by little on past successes, finding ever more ways to optimize, standardize, or creatively apply what’s working today to yield even greater success tomorrow.
For organizations like energy companies that determine bottom line results based on how well they can apply incredibly sophisticated science to the chaos of the physical world, sharing expertise or experience among colleagues can be a key that may unlock vast and unexpected new opportunities. Subject matter experts in energy concerns can share details that demystify complicated regulations, provide insights on geopolitical shifts and resulting business environments, and show applications for technical and scientific advances that may in turn lead to even more valuable discoveries.
Communicating with customers and stakeholders
Most modern energy companies are active members of the public sphere — between interacting with customers, partners, regulatory agencies, and local governments, today’s energy organizations know well the value of communications. Sharing the right messages in the right ways can occasionally even be the difference between whether new projects move forward or find themselves stalled.
Yet corporate communications for such a diverse array of audiences is no small task. Consumers are notoriously distracted, and often focused on the bottom line of their bills. Governments and regulators, meanwhile, may be overly-tuned to single issues and miss the bigger picture. And no one has time for yet another email or letter, no matter how well written or how important the subject.
Research indicates video can help. Forrester notes that people are 75% more likely to watch a video than read an email. Including video in customer communications can help make people aware of new options available, or new measures of concern. Likewise, video can more effectively showcase new technologies for partners, new compliance measures for regulators, and new plans for governmental organizations. Best of all, because video is a visually rich format, even a simple video recording can often get your message across better than even the best websites or brochures.
Maintain a central, searchable, secure library of video assets
No matter how any given energy company uses video most often, in the end, nearly every one creates a robust library of video files in the process. Panopto is the only video platform that integrates best-of-breed recording and webcasting with a secure video library. All of your Panopto recordings and live webcasts are automatically uploaded into the library and converted for optimal viewing on any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Pre-recorded videos can also be uploaded and converted for playback on any device.
And as the video library grows, Panopto provides a unique video search engine that makes finding information inside your videos as easy as searching for content within email and documents. Simply enter a phrase like “electrical structure” into Panopto’s video search engine – you’ll find every relevant recording in your collection and be able to fast-forward to each point in your videos where the term is mentioned (click here to try the search yourself).
Try It Yourself!
Panopto is a video platform that enables you to preserve institutional knowledge, support social learning and creative solutions, scale operations, and better support your teams in the field, helping your energy business discover and leverage new opportunities, produce and deliver a superior product, and build market share.