Running an enterprise requires managing its assets. And to do that effectively, you need to operate in the information era, which means having the right information, at the right time, in the right hands.
ASUG News sat down with OpenText’s Senior Director of Energy Industry, Martin Richards, and Director of Program Management of Energy and Engineering, Cameron Brennan, to discuss how SAP Extended ECM by OpenText and the add-on for Capital Projects and Operations can help an enterprise make the most of its information to improve productivity and streamline its business processes.
We talked about what it takes to achieve operational excellence. “And to achieve that,” Martin said, “an enterprise needs to be able to control content, optimize content access, manage change, and integrate it all within business systems.”
Sharon: What are the challenges with managing and using information within the energy and utilities industries?
Martin: This is as true for utility companies as it is for the oil and gas companies, the chemicals companies, and the mining companies. They’ve all been collecting data for decades, but very few are using it where and how it matters.
At OpenText, our main message is around operational excellence and being able to leverage information to achieve it. So, let’s look at an oil and gas company as an example. Its main function is the exploration, production, and selling of oil. To do that effectively, it needs to build and operate a continual processing environment. The success of the business is all about how well it operates this environment, including plant maintenance in an ERP, running operations to provide the right information at the right time, and scheduling to ensure minimum downtime. Every minute it’s operating it’s making money. And every time it has to stop the plant it loses money. It's pretty simple. Information management is the key to that, and that's where we come in. It’s really a combined, integrated effort that ultimately provides that.
Sharon: According to an ASUG research, SAP customers in the utilities industry are looking for opportunities to streamline their operations by making more business processes digital. What solutions does OpenText provide to SAP customers in this space? What processes do these solutions support and what are the benefits to implementing them?
Martin: For an organization that’s not yet very mature, and we still have a few of those, content such as engineering drawings, documents, specifications, operating procedures, and others are still on paper. Some of these would be in electronic format, but they would be on laptops, file servers, and so on. So, the first phase of what OpenText can do is take that information, analyze it, and get it into a system with single point of access, or a single point of the truth. But it’s not just about digitizing it.
Even for organizations that are mature and have their content digitized, in order to streamline business operations, they need to be able to manage change, whether process-driven or compliance-driven, effectively. And they also need to be able to integrate with other systems. For example, if an operator is working on a work order within SAP PM, as part of this activity they need to access and read the relevant operating procedure. Without leaving the SAP UI, the operator is able to search within OpenText and retrieve and view the procedure—OpenText Extended ECM integrates the content system with SAP to make a single and seamless experience for the user.
The endpoint is then to start to apply analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). But it’s important to go through each level of maturity first, getting your content under control by digitizing, managing, and then integrating the content. We can't just add AI if your information is all over the place. So, once you've got that under control, you can then start to look at your processes to bring productivity improvements. Most organizations are now starting to explore how AI will positively impact their business.
It's quite interesting. Sometimes we'll talk to an organization that wants to start using AI and analytics, but once we go back down the maturity grid and find out they're not there yet, we have to go back to the basics. But that's the process that we take them through. We've got tools all the way from analysis of existing content, to management of the content, integration points through to SAP, and analytics tools as well.
Sharon: What role does AI and analytics play in content management? Can you share some use cases?
Martin: There are a couple of areas that we look at with analytics and AI. The first one is around unstructured content using text-based analytics.
A good example of that would be a major oil and gas company that we've been working with that has all its operating procedures for maintenance in the system. These include millions and millions of documents. It is using analytics to ascertain if the maintenance activities are effective—good or bad essentially. We were able to use analytics on the text to look at the semantics and structure of the document. With machine learning, we can teach the tool to start with one document and then go through the rest of the operating procedures and help the business determine whether an operating procedure will result in ineffective maintenance simply by the way the text is written on the document. With this information, the business has an opportunity to make edits right there. The second part of the solution is to then start looking at predictive maintenance capabilities.
Now, on the other side of the coin, we have lots of customers who aren’t yet clear about what they want to get out of AI. They’re still playing with the concept too. I had a customer tell me they’re spending a million dollars on a proof of concept but couldn’t answer the simple question of what they wanted to get out of it. He said, “We don’t know yet.” They had all this data they’d been collecting for 30 years and wanted to allow this tool to have a look at but didn’t know why. And this is true across all industries.
I think there's a genuine belief that what we've done today with digitizing the processes has gotten us a 5% to 10% business process advantage. With true adoption of AI, they're looking at up to 40% business process advantage. It’s the steep part of the benefits curve. I think people intuitively understand that, but they’re not quite sure exactly what that means today. So, one of our challenges is to find one or two of those key use cases in the business process, because the great thing about this industry is once you find it for one organization, it is applicable for all.
The oil and gas company I previously mentioned is a good example of a key use case. The company is working with the University of Texas to do the academic analysis around the operating procedures and comparing them to the outcome. The hard part was to understand how to correlate the data in the first place so we can actually start to learn. If they’re able to go through that process and start to really affect the performance of their maintenance, that’s entirely applicable to everybody else.
Sharon: How does what OpenText has to offer integrate with the AI and analytics solutions SAP offers?
Cameron: It’s up to the customer and what they've implemented and what they're using. Both OpenText and SAP have analytics, AI, and machine learning tools, but what we’re doing is managing the unstructured content and then linking that in context with the structured business processes. So, the information is clean, it's under control, and it can be analyzed. If you analyze garbage, you're going to get garbage right back out.
The clean information, if you will, can then be used by either SAP analytics tools or any other tools the customer wants to use, including ours. It just depends on which side they want to look at it from.
Sharon: Can the AI tools be integrated and work together?
Martin: It's a great question and I've had a couple of people this week ask that. Not at this point. It’s an area we need to look at because we need to ask, "Why would you use the OpenText analytics tool when there are hundreds out there on the market?" Obviously, you would use it if content is a focal point because we really own that piece of it. But once you get further away from that, I suppose our unique selling point actually starts falling more into SAP having access to a lot of the data that's there.
Sharon: What are your predictions for disruptive technologies in the energy and utilities industries within the next five years?
Martin: We talked a lot of about one which is analytics and AI. That’s probably number one at this point. But the other one that I've been spending a lot of time on is the digital twin, which is also part of what we’ve been talking about. It’s that fully integrated environment that is an electronic representation of the asset, and then being able to operate in a more effective way and drive different business processes.
Cameron: I totally agree. Have you seen the movie “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito? A lot of energy companies are telling us that their digital twin looks more like Danny DeVito. They have this huge facility that's very effective, and then they go to manage and monitor it, and they’ve got Danny DeVito as their digital twin. It looks nothing like their physical Arnold Schwarzenegger facility, which makes it hard for them to effectively operate, maintain, and refurbish.
So, it's about improving the quality of that information. Much of what's built out in SAP Plant Maintenance, for example, is based on the engineering drawings. That’s the source of truth. What we’re bringing to the table is managing and controlling that engineering information so that the actual source of truth is under control and correct. We then link those drawings to the newly created assets and functional locations in SAP Plant Maintenance. This helps ensure that the digital twin more accurately represents the physical facility, making it much easier to operate and maintain.
Sharon: What should ASUG members know about the solutions OpenText provides?
Cameron: As SAP’s leading solution extension partner, OpenText has been seamlessly delivering unstructured information to SAP’s digital platform. OpenText and SAP work together to help companies drive digital transformation and turn information into business results. We do this by combining content and data to provide business value and an information advantage.
For the past 12 years, OpenText has had a solution for managing and controlling engineering information, business processes, and risk. This solution is now available to ASUG members as an SAP solution extension and leverages our deep Extended ECM integration into SAP products such as Enterprise Asset Management. This integrated solution provides project, operations, and maintenance teams with immediate access to this controlled engineering information. Customers value this solution to help keep their projects on track and increase their production uptime revenue with seamless access to this source of truth.
Interested in learning more about enterprise information management? Register for ASUG Experience for Enterprise Information Management (EIM),
Oct. 28–30 in Minneapolis. If you’re in the oil and gas industry and want to learn from peers how they’re driving innovations with SAP technologies, register for Best Practices for Oil & Gas, Sept. 16–18 in Houston. Those in the utilities industry should join us Oct. 21–23 in San Diego for SAP for Utilities.