Use of portable devices for data collection and monitoring in upstream oil and gas is growing. To date, however, its use is mainly restricted to technical applications. Michael Saucier, founder and CEO of Transpara, believes much greater use can be made of portable devices for complex decision support, assuming the decision makers can access the right data from wherever they are. Transpara’s Visual KPI software is already being used by companies in the process manufacturing and utilities industries. “In upstream oil and gas you have distributed assets in remote locations, and the goal is to manage those assets to run optimally. If you’re able to drill down to the relevant data from a phone, then a manager can contribute, solve the problem, from wherever he is,” says Saucier. “You’ve minimized the time it takes to solve the problem, and the expert didn’t have to disrupt what he was doing. But you’ve got to put the data in front of him.” Saucier says the utility industry is way ahead in this regard. One company has deployed Visual KPI to 900 workers showing business critical business information, and they did it in one day. “To present complex data on mobile devices, the power of visualization needs to be harnessed. By putting an on-board operational data base in front of users, the data is repurposed and new uses are found without new master data. They can do more than email with their phone.” Saucier maintains that the strength of the solution comes especially from the ease of implementation. “There’s the commissioning and getting it to work, and then there’s the ongoing work to identify further data sources. The first collection of data takes 90 minutes. This is not a platform for writing code. Out of the box it does very valuable things. You connect to the data sources and get one expert what they need. That means the time to value is known.” From Transpara’s point of view, what’s important is to solve the problem of the marginal cost of curiosity and build a system that allows you to discover questions and answers. “We’ve leaned out the business intelligence process using Excel to design new scorecards that allow users to answer different questions over time. The subject matter expert can then fend for himself, and never stop discovering questions they need answered.” The resulting data is often expressed as key performance indicators (KPIs). Growing use of KPIs, said Saucier, represents a fundamental shift. “People are more accepting of managing to metrics and that you should measure anything you want to improve. By knowing how you and others are being measured you work better as a team. Measurement is changing from a weapon used by management to something that allows a team to work more effectively.”