Companies in the exploration and production (E&P) business often suffer from communication challenges as the enterprise grows. These businesses are typically an amalgamation of merged or acquired companies and organically grown assets. Whether the enterprise is organized along functional or asset-based lines, communication outside the normal bounds of the organization can be a challenge. Individuals and teams working on complex problems are often unable to harness all of the company's intellectual capital because their network of colleagues is limited to those colleagues they personally know.
In the last decade, the emergence of Web 2.0 has changed the way that people consume and share information. Visitors to websites are no longer merely consumers of content, but can create, add to, or modify content visible to other users. This shared online space has brought individuals together and enabled the exchange of ideas in ways not previously possible. Given the way that social media has changed the landscape of society, this technology holds great potential to change the way companies conduct their internal business as well.
Devon Energy evaluated the use of a Knowledge Network through a pilot project built on a foundation of commonly available software (Microsoft SharePoint). Participants were completions engineers with a wide range of experience, hailing from a variety of divisions and geographic locations. These engineers identified areas where social computing could be helpful, such as finding experts within the company, building relationships, sharing knowledge, asking questions, and rapidly assembling teams to address issues facing multiple divisions. Participants tested the tools against all of these scenarios, including team projects to address real completions engineering issues with material impact to the company.
Participant feedback and business results from the pilot project have resulted in the Knowledge Network being sanctioned for deployment not only in engineering disciplines, but for all areas of the company. Through the pilot process, we came to understand why previous knowledge management efforts had met with little success. The paper outlines the changes necessary to establish and maintain a culture of community learning, from organizational structure, to participant expectations, time and money invested, and even to management expectations of return on software investments.