In less than two years, the energy industry has been transformedfrom a traditional service industry into a real-time convergence ofinformation, work flows, e-business and knowledge, and thosecompanies that don’t keep pace to benefit from the new age willbecome victims, regardless of what they have to offer.

That was the thrust of a keynote presentation yesterday inHouston at the Energy Economy 2000 conference. But how do energycompanies keep up? Robert Heinemann, chief technology officer forHalliburton, said one of the most important factors will be indeveloping “close, intelligent relationships with customers.”Heinemann said that human resources “are the knowledge base” forany company, and will be especially important for the energyindustry to not just survive but to thrive.

“An increasing issue for industry is the reduction in manpower,”he said. “Where is the next generation of energy employees going tocome from?” He said that in the 1960s, the entire energy industry,which was smaller than it is today, had about 1.6 millionemployees. Today, that number is about 650,000. “We have adeclining and aging knowledge base. How to attract people to theindustry is something that’s going to require a lot of attention.”

“There are three times more Internet users today than there were18 months ago,” said SAIC’s Kent Greenes, chief knowledge officer.SAIC works with BP Amoco on its Internet, intranet and extranet.”B2B spending has tripled from $50 billion to $150 billion. Time isnot money. It’s survival.” He said that in less than two years, BPhas been transformed into a different company because of theInternet. And it’s not alone.

Greenes, who defined “e-knowledge” as the ability to learn andperform at the speed of change, said that “business is strictlypersonal today. Customers want to get close. The pace of changetoday is so fast, and on top of that, the new breed of workerscoming into the business is not afraid to try new things. But itfalls to the established energy people to teach the new employeeshow the industry works, then let the experimentation begin.”

Schlumberger’s Jean Chevallier, vice president of informationtechnology, said that his company has begun an Operations 2000Initiative, which entails establishing a global knowledge base todistribute consistent information throughout the company using theInternet.

“The battle for change is won or lost in the front office,” hesaid. “Sharing best practices is important, and human issues arekey. You have to adapt to benefit. If you don’t adapt, you’llbecome a victim.”

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