Keeping Up With Emerging Communication
Jeff Spath, 2014 SPE President
In this first article on technological frontiers, I will focus on the ways in which modern knowledge-transfer avenues are impacting the industry and, more specifically, SPE. While communication methods like social media have been in our vocabulary for years, their presence is now ubiquitous in our workplace and, more recently, on our mobile devices. Just look at how social media and mobile devices are now being used as tools to disseminate information about current events.
Beyond using the various social media methods “socially” and for news, the technologies behind the methods are changing the way we work. It is estimated that the number of social network users around the world will increase 18% from 1.47 billion in 2012 (eMarketer newsletter, 18 June 2013) to 1.73 billion this year. Granted, some of this could be posting our latest travel pictures on Facebook or tweeting about vacations, but I see engineers, particularly young professionals, or the “Sony” generation as I like to call them, writing blogs on their specific engineering issues, posting comments on The Way Ahead Facebook page, and using many other of SPE’s social media platforms.
As the use of social media has grown among our members, SPE has recognized the need to create and engage with members through social media outlets. With the evolving crew change, it is important that we reach and share with members, particularly young members—where they are and where they expect us to be. Building and maintaining social media platforms are necessary to engage with membership.
In line with SPE’s mission to collect, disseminate, and exchange technical knowledge, our social media channels serve that purpose while also allowing SPE and its members the platform to engage, share, learn, and interact with sections, chapters, companies, and industry enthusiasts from around the world. From showcasing the latest news in our flagship magazine, JPT, to highlighting student chapters, to what one can expect at an upcoming event, to who will be instructing training courses, SPE’s social media channels are designed to communicate all things SPE.
SPE Social Media
Our social media channels are varied, with each serving a different purpose. Facebook is the hub, where SPE activities are shared directly with more than 32,000 connections. With a following consisting predominantly of university students and young professionals, a recent Facebook posting about why people chose a career in the oil and gas industry sparked a lot of comments about the great benefits of working in the industry. The post was viewed by more than 11,000 people. At a time when the industry is in need of talented young people, it is exchanges like this that will help communicate the benefits of the industry and reach the level of human resources needed to meet future demand.
The SPE LinkedIn group’s focus is the discussion of industry topics. Consisting mostly of seasoned industry professionals, SPE’s LinkedIn group allows individuals to get real-world work experience from those in the know: more than 60,000 of them. These topical posts reach a variety of professionals across the globe within minutes and, while not all discussion is technical in nature, the dialog can be about very specific technical questions. One of the most popular discussions recently asked, “Which is the best gas well dewatering method in the final stage in the productive life of gas wells?” Within a few hours, the author had more than 25 comments from professionals who had worked through similar issues.
Our YouTube channel houses videos from events, members, how-to’s, and more. In just 18 months, the page has amassed more than 10,800 video views. Our Twitter profile is all about events. From workshops, to Web events, to training courses, we talk about all SPE events. Only active since mid-2012, the profile has ballooned from 150 to more than 4,100 followers.
Online Knowledge Transfer
Providing enhanced functionality and user-friendliness for its online technical interest groups, SPE launched connect.spe.org, its newest member benefit and online collaboration and communications platform. This virtual meeting space, exclusively for SPE members, allows members worldwide to connect, collaborate, discuss technical challenges, and find solutions.
Personally, I’m not an avid user of social media in general, but since the launch of SPE Connect I have been more active. A fairly recent example I can share was using the Reservoir Engineering Digest within SPE Connect to ask the entire SPE reservoir engineering community their thoughts on gaps in numerical simulation technology. I was doing a presentation and wanted to get a feel for what was happening globally. I received an overwhelming amount of feedback from experts around the globe and cannot imagine how I would have done that just a few years ago.
PetroWiki, SPE’s online version of the Petroleum Engineering Handbook (PEH), launched the full seven volumes of the PEH in its first year as an online reference. While preserved in its original form, which was last published in 2007, SPE members can update and expand content from the published version using “wiki” methodology. All contributions are reviewed by members with subject matter expertise to ensure technical validity. Deployment of Google Translate this year enables readers to translate pages into 17 languages.
Since its launch in 2007, OnePetro has become one of the most comprehensive resources available on upstream oil and gas. The online library contains more than 145,000 technical documents from 18 organizations. OnePetro was developed in response to industry requests for a means of streamlining research for their employees. Access is available to the general public, and full-text articles can be obtained online through individual purchase or subscription.
These recent knowledge transfer mechanisms are becoming commonplace. As they continue to evolve, SPE must keep pace. Almost 30% of SPE’s professional membership is 35 and younger, and this number continues to grow. Speaking to student chapters, for example, I hear all the time that they want everything as an app on their mobile phone. I think that more seasoned professionals underestimate the extent to which young professional members want to access knowledge in an immediate, mobile, customizable, multi-tasking environment with the ability not to just learn, but to join conversations, engage, and become empowered.
eMarketer newsletter. 18 June 2013. Social Networking Reaches Nearly One in Four Around the World. www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Networking-Reaches-Nearly-One-Four-Around-World/1009976#QrFftV3VfJWQ5HDO.99. Accessed 25 September 2013.