Tough times call for smart measures

Emerging technologies and IT solutions offer ways for Aberdeen’s beleaguered oil and gas sector to become more resilient as it seeks to weather the economic storm.

Graeme Gordon and Steve Johnson

In a climate of job losses and cutbacks, businesses across the board are looking at ways to get smart about spending. ICT plays a critical role in keeping businesses connected and effectively managing the high levels of data and traffic generated which is essential in the modern workplace, a workshop held by Internet For Business (IFB) heard.

Guest speaker Steve Johnson, director of Simply Joined Consulting, acknowledged that ICT managers are facing the same challenges as other parts of their organisations – to find cost efficiencies while maintaining performance.

“As technology improves and cost structures change, it is important for businesses to focus on cost efficiency rather than merely spend reduction,” Mr Johnson said.

“The high levels of capacity and speed in the market today make it easy for users to expect secure and effective IT and telecoms solutions at the push of a button. In many cases, the ‘switch on and go’ capabilities are taken for granted until something goes wrong and the return on investment is not always fully appreciated as a spend category.

“Speed and quality of service provision can sometimes be adversely affected by either having cumbersome procurement processes where simplicity is more suitable, or by fast tracking orders that require detailed scopes and contracts to ensure that potential risks are identified and managed effectively and efficiently.

“Breaking ICT spend into sub-categories of spend with a healthy balance of technical and procurement discussions in tandem with each other, will allow the appropriate process to be selected for the respective product or service.

“As businesses and organisations seek to find new ways to be efficient, having already carried out the early rounds of industry-wide price and rate-slashing exercises across their supply chains, it is important for them to identify and engage with suppliers that can offer both an effective service for today’s demands, plus the expertise and resource to assist customers in understanding what the future looks like and how they can evolve at a manageable pace that suits their specific needs.”


Business people, many from the oil and gas sector, gathered at IFB’s premises in Altens for the workshop exploring the impact of the slump in oil in gas and ways in which technology can help overcome these difficulties.


It is viable to maintain business-critical IT elements like security, resilience and reliability while ensuring efficiencies and value for money are retained, said Graeme Gordon, chief executive officer of IFB.


He added: “ICT costs are tiny compared to the cost of getting oil out of the ground, but everyone wants to get smart about spending, and quite rightly so.


“Things are getting tough and markets are harder for everyone. Seventy percent of what we do is for the oil and gas sector, the remainder for professional services and third and public-sector clients across the UK.


“In an industry that requires 24/7 communication, often globally and remotely, transferring huge amounts of data and currently tasked with making significant cost savings, how do companies maintain service levels and reduce costs?


“There are opportunities to create solutions for the pain points, and to help businesses maintain their IT standards and make efficiencies while maintaining business-critical IT elements including security, resilience and reliability.


“It is important to keep customers updated on emerging and existing technologies that can have a real impact on their business.


“Connecting, protecting and securing clients and their data has to be the priority and at the centre of any ICT review.”

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