Recently I got the opportunity to see my friend and colleague Deanna Glinka present at DUG Permian Basin on a topic she is passionate about – Data. Data is not just a pet project. Deanna has spent 20 years helping customers and users get value from data.
Lately, her focus has shifted from the tools that one uses to gain insight, to the data itself. That’s because a couple of years ago, Deanna noticed a trend: Customers kept saying, “Deanna, I can’t get to my data,” or “Deanna, my data is hard to use and understand – oh, and I can’t get to it easily.” Thus, began her quest to deliver better, more digestible data to end users.
This trend wasn’t just a few customer conversations and anecdotes. As recently as June 2018, a report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and commissioned by Insight Enterprise supported the needs that Deanna had been hearing. In fact, “Just over 60% of respondents to the Insight survey said workers are seeking better access to business data.” And that’s not just talking about oil and gas. Results from the survey point to a pervasive challenge across industries.
So, what’s the answer? I sat down with Deanna to discuss solutions.
Matthew (ML): Deanna, I know you are passionate about data. What drives that passion, and how do you stay focused on turning that passion into something valuable for our customers?
Deanna (DG): My passion comes from seeing users reap the rewards from all the time and effort that went into adding or inputting data into source systems. Think about it. Hundreds of hours are spent with our core applications so it seems like there should be some benefits at the other end of the pipe.
Several years ago, my parents asked me what I do for a living. I said business intelligence. Confusion set in. So I explained it like this: Mom, Dad, you know what accountants do, right? They input data into applications so they can balance debits and credits. <Heads nod> So I help those accountants get data out of applications so they can create reports and analyze the data. <lightbulb>
ML: Is extracting data from applications difficult?
DG: It can be. Certainly our applications have standard export and reporting capabilities, but those can only get you so far. In today’s data analytic world, users don’t just want data dumps. They want, and frankly need, what I call ‘consumable’ data.
ML: Consumable data?
DG: Consumable for the amazing and powerful business intelligence tools on the market like Tableau, PowerBI, and Spotfire. These tools need data that has been transformed into easy-to-use, business-friendly data and modeled specifically for reporting and analytics.
ML: Other than, “come talk to Quorum,” what advice do you have for companies, analysts, and data practitioners who are trying to get the most value from their data?
DG: Start small. There are terabytes and terabytes of data in your ecosystems. Find a small data set that you know will add value immediately. We selected financial data so that our users could create lease operating statements (LOS) and other core reports like cash flow and balance sheet. Once the users get a taste of the consumable data, they will be asking for more, so be ready.☺
Her last point is incredibly important. The need to realize value quickly from solutions requires us to think differently about how we use and implement a solution. Let’s focus more on incremental and iterative approaches so that we can course correct and adapt as we learn from using the solutions.
Deanna and I agree that information is the most critical asset that companies and people have. It is used to inform our decisions, measure our successes and failures, and run companies. Oil and gas companies require secure and easy access to information, and our mission at Quorum is not to be a roadblock. We want to enable customers with consumable data at all times.
So, when you are thinking about reporting and analytics, start with your basic operational needs. Reporting on your financial health, investor/owner relations, plus tax and regulatory filings are just a few of your fundamental requirements for delivering clean and timely information that’s compliant with an alphabet soup of external stakeholders. Start small and evolve your capabilities with new data sets and BI tools. Using this method, you will develop a sustainable and easily reproducible process that can be implemented in other departments across the company. And remember, your reports won’t be any good if the data used to make them is bad– start there and build out; you’ll be more successful in the long run.