Like other industries, the oil and gas industry has struggled to establish standards for electronic commerce. However, unlike other industries that might just have to get Company X in Ohio to make sure its legacy systems can talk to Company Y's in South Carolina, the oil and gas industry must do the same for Company X in Dallas and Company Y in Saudi Arabia.
Eriksen says oil and gas has lagged behind such sectors as electronics and chemicals in this area. Luckily, help is on the way. There is a standards-making body in the petroleum industry, called PIDX the Petroleum Industry Data Exchange and it is meeting with the intention of trying to put standards together. It is working with the marketplaces as well as the individual companies and suppliers, but it hasn't moved that quickly.
Martin agrees that settling on standards is an important issue that has to be resolved before e-commerce reaches its full potential in the oil and gas industry. She says, I think the big focus right now is on complex services and e-catalogs in general. You can't do catalogs without some agreement around how we provide some commonality, because if not, you'll just have to use everybody's portal, and that defeats the whole purpose of e-commerce.
Fueling the Future
What does the future hold for the enabled supply chain in oil and gas? According to Martin, if the technical issues establishing the infrastructure, setting standards, etc. are overcome, collaboration will increase and evolve, and possibly in ways no one is currently imagining. She says, If you can bring people onto projects and off projects seamlessly, then things like workflow and design will probably take off, and we'll think of all kinds of things that have never occurred to us.