August 23, 2019

By Mika Javanainen, VP, Product Marketing, M-Files, the intelligent information management company.

In 2016, IDC predicted that, by 2019, digital transformation would help oil and gas companies cut costs and increase efficiencies by 10-50%, and that 40% of all oil and gas companies would gain insights from analytics and AI solutions. Yet today, many oil and gas companies struggle to manage documents, data and information.

Speaking to the state of industry at the time, one industry insider offered a bleak outlook at progress towards better information management in oil and gas.

“People often seem to think oil & gas companies are leading-edge . . . and that they live in a World of 3D models, data and analytics,” said one industry veteran. “The real picture is often very different. Exploration and production companies, who search for and extract hydrocarbons, see information systems and information management as something necessary but not something that excites the interest of the board.”

But fast-forward to today, and companies are making monumental strides, in part by applying intelligent information management (IIM), bridging the gap between what is and what could be.


Applying Intelligent Information Management

Energy producers know their needs for better information management; such as managing information related to wells, production sites, reports, inspection forms, and leases. Complicating matters, regulations introduce a stringent set of requirements for information management – and for passing audits.

And so, consider six environments in which IIM is being applied to streamline oil & gas operations.


Operations. Human Resources and Finance departments face a multitude of challenges, but mountains of paperwork are virtually always first on that list. It could be everything from government-required tax forms to piles of paper invoices. In the past, these have largely been manual, paper-based functions. Today, with IIM, they are automated and connected.

Compliance. Maintaining proper records isn’t just good business practice. Often, it’s the law. With IIM, these documents can be captured, stored and organized electronically, ensuring audit-readiness by producing complete audit trails and exportable logs of all document actions. After the retention period, the files can be disposed appropriately to reduce the storage cost.

Data security. Data security is a perpetual challenge, and forever under the spotlight in regulated industries. IIM keeps data safe and secure, regardless of where it is stored. Beginning with a secure sign-in, access to employee archives, databases and documents can be granted only to those with designated permissions.

Software integration. IIM makes up for the deficits of software integration by automating the integration of multiple, often disparate applications such as CRM, ERP, network folders, SharePoint and other applications.

Invoice processing: Invoice processing requires leveraging a vast array of information management capabilities, such as data capture, workflows, notifications, mobile access, audit trails and permissions. Today, with IIM, the process has become routine, and invoices can be documented digitally to ensure accuracy, prompt distribution, and earlier revenue recognition.


In every well, the amount of oil and gas produced drops off over time until production costs outweigh sales returns. As the number of fields ending production accelerates, decommissioning them requires plugging them and removing infrastructure.

A modern IIM system enables management of not just documents but non-document objects important to decommissioning wells — such as site information, cases, and subcontractors.


M&A activity creates big challenges for system and document migration, document versioning, and data deduplication – and yet companies cannot risk discontinuity or downtime in merging their operations. That’s where IIM is arguably the only practical solution, providing a repository-neutral environment where silos can be connected (rather than integrated) through a metadata layer and presented in a single user interface.


Mobility has become a huge contributing factor to the challenge of maintaining a secure perimeter around corporate information. Workers need rapid access to private data. An IIM system enables workers with mobile devices to securely access, edit and approve documents, sign contracts and work orders, and collaborate on documents.


With the many uncertainties that oil and gas companies face, three concerns remain dominant, according to Aberdeen Group: maintaining compliance with regulations, responding to customer demand, and enabling global product sales. Oil and gas companies are finding that visibility of data, process and workflow alignment, and compliance monitoring are key to overall corporate compliance. Many have also found that IIM is alone in providing the infrastructure to meet these aims.


Geographic information system (GIS) mapping analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. One provider of GIS technology is Esri, with its user interface, ArcGIS.

But no single tool or platform is an island. That’s why IIM has shaped up to be an integration “completer piece” to ArcGIS. It allows users to easily find, access and manage information by using intuitive maps, aerial photography and spatially related data.

Is Oil & Gas turning the corner from the past, into the present, and onto the future? That’s a tough question. One thing is for sure: in any industry, when there’s no perceived better way, the status quo remains. Now, for many industries, IIM is becoming an acknowledged better way.

Mika Javanainen is VP of Product Marketing at M-Files Corporation where he manages and develops the M-Files product portfolio, roadmap and global pricing. M-Files provides a next-generation intelligent management platform that improves business performance by helping people find and use information more effectively. A published author, Javanainen has an executive MBA in International Business and Marketing from Tallinn University of Technology.

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