Digital Forms, Mobile Apps, IoT, Data Analytics, and Machine Learning in the Oil and Gas Industry

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Cupp, CEO of the UNEE Group based in Houston, Texas. UNEE focuses on Digital Transformation. We discussed how Petrochemical, O&G, and Energy customers are undertaking Digital Transformation, and this blog shares with all of you Cody’s insights that he has gleaned from actual customer implementations.

These industries focus on Minimizing Risk, Increasing Safety for Resources, Optimizing the Workforce, and Operational Excellence. In order to achieve these objectives here is what O&G companies are deploying:

Digital Forms: O&G firms have a great number of paper-based forms they have to fill. These are related to Environmental, Health, and Safety (ESH). They are now converting these forms to Digital, collecting data on mobile devices, and integrating that data with back end systems directly. These forms work offline and are dynamic. From a User perspective, filling a complex multi-page form is far easier on a tablet than on paper. It leads to better data quality also.

Mobile Apps: Customers are also deploying mobile apps in the Field for Data Collection. Both smartphones and tablets are being used for this. Again, these apps work offline and can send data to backend systems directly. Readings for meters, Inspections, and Work Orders can all be managed via mobile apps instead of filling the paper.

Internet of Things (IoT): Companies are deploying smart sensors, smart meters, and smart cameras on assets to collect data more frequently and accurately. For example, Utilities data is being captured by Smart/Digital meters that can help analyze utilities usage. The data from the Smart meters is fed into an IoT Gateway that consolidates all the information in a backend Utility Management System. This allows for better chargeback of utility consumption to customers thus increasing revenues. It also enhances Customer Service at the same time. Also through Smart Cameras, clients are looking at ways to reduce the risk that can identify leaks in real time by analytics assisted image analysis.  This can increase safety significantly.

Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence: With advancements in data science, computing, and data integration platforms, customers can now leverage these digital transformation toolkits to optimize their business. Leveraging business intelligence, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, these industries have many options for driving costs down through the reduction of operational bottlenecks, asset management, and supply chain optimization. On the top line, these same technologies can be used to optimize assets to find new revenue streams, increase customer satisfaction, and provide overall business transformation into leaner, more agile enterprises.

Business Benefits:

Increase in Revenues, Reduced Costs, Enhanced Safety, and Superior Customer Service are being experienced by customers who have gone Digital in O&G.

Lessons Learned:

There are various points that need to be kept in mind:

  • Data Quality: At the beginning, one should define how the data should look. Various departments like Operations, Maintenance, and Customer Service have their own views of the data. Your data governance models should be able to support these varying views even if the data sources are the same.
  • Understand Your End User: The focus should be on answering the business question and truly understanding the stakeholder(s) process.
  • Quick Wins: Projects with a Quick Win should be selected initially to generate momentum.
  • High Priority: Tackle the Business Problem that is the most important.

As always, please share your feedback or related ideas you may have by writing to us at unvired@sales.io.

Read More

Looking Back at 2018

As we look back at 2018, two main themes standout from our various developments and technology innovations. First of all, we are thrilled that Unvired catalyzed the adoption of Chatbots in the Enterprise and second is the huge progress made in digitizing the enterprise (forms, IoT etc.) for our customers. Other than the key drivers, we also saw fairly wide adoption of hybrid mobile apps for the Enterprise. Surprisingly quite a few Unvired customers are using these hybrid apps on Android, iOS and Windows Tablet (Cordova based apps that run on all of them). Maybe Windows tablet time in the enterprise has arrived? Delving into more details:

Chatbots:

ChymeBot moved deeper into the enterprise and the user’s psyche. A bunch of customers deployed and we also had a major implementation with the Rugby games in Australia sponsored by Carlton United Breweries. To know more about that read the press release and our customer blog. So what did we work on in Chyme?
New Releases with Enhanced NLP and AI along with several successful customer chatbot deployments reiterated Unvired’s Chyme Bots Platform leadership in the market.  Below are some of our significant achievements:

1. Enhanced Natural Language Processing (NLP): We have added the Open Source Rasa stack for Natural Language Understanding to enhance the contextual conversational Chatbots we build using Chyme. We also support complete conversation modeling using the Chyme Conversation Builder and training and deploying to Rasa online. Given that Rasa is based on Tensorflow, the NLP uses the conversation modeled to manage the initial conversations and learns the rest.
2. Incorporated Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: We made the Chyme Bots Platform smarter by incorporating open source AI and ML that makes the conversations of Chatbots more contextual and intelligent. Standard Chyme features here include Sentiment Analysis and optionally User and usage patterns etc. Additionally, our SDKs allow bots to hook up to custom ML models to mine the rich data that enterprise users are working on. Each customer implementation (cloud or on-premise) runs in a separate silo for both data and ML and is completely secure and sensitive data is protected. Additionally, no data is sent to external cloud providers and data is completely private to the customers’ team.
3. Voice: Google Assistant has been the one our customers have liked. We have deployed a couple of voice assistants for our customers who are using the Google Assistant on Android phones to access enterprise data via voice.
4. Global languages supported: We increased our support for many languages beyond English, and Russian and Greek merit a special mention as we have customer deployments in these languages.
5. Developer enhancements: We added many tools to make it easy for developers to build Chatbots using Chyme and to extend our Standard Chatbots for IT Help Desk (ServiceNow), SAP, Procurement, HR, and QnA (FAQs). This is a continuous improvement cycle and we are making large investments into this area in 2019 also. Expect many more enhancements and features around ease of development here.

Overall 2018 was really the year when customers conducted POCs to build the Business Case for Chatbots along with a few adventurous roll outs.  The success of 2018 has emboldened customers and in 2019, we are finding that they are ready to migrate these Chatbots to Production.  We couldn’t be more excited about this.

Digitization:

At Unvired, we love working with customers to realize their digital vision and goals. 2018 was no different and we implemented a number of projects. What we did see different was the number of companies wanting to go digital with data collection in the form of filling forms, inspecting equipment, onboarding employees etc. Also striking was the need for customers to access these from mobile with offline capability and online via a browser. The distinction in digital on modes of access is disappearing and companies just want all forms of access for all apps!

2019 is going to see Unvired makes investments in enhancing and growing our suite of Apps for digitization. Specifically, we will be adding to our digital forms suite of apps.

Analyst Recognition: Among analysts, Gartner and 451 Research recognized our achievements, especially the proof points we had with Customer Case studies.

New Alliances: We built new alliances with System Integrators in the US, Singapore, Indonesia, Middle East, Australia, and other geographies. We also built partnerships with technology vendors.

Customer Deployments: We deployed Chatbots for customers in the US, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and pan-Africa. The Use Cases were varied including Marketing, Sales, IT Help Desk, Procurement, Claims Management, and HR. The industry verticals were Beverages, Media, Insurance, and Utilities.   This is a blog in itself.

We would love to hear from you what you would like us to focus on in 2019 so that we can continue to enhance the Chyme Bots platform and create innovative disruption in how humans interact with systems.  Write to us at sales@unvired.io and let us have a human to human conversation.  The chatbot conversation will follow.

Read More

Chatbot for Approvals that Accelerates Decision Making for HR and Procurement

Have you ever waited for a boss to approve your leave application? Then, you know that restless feeling as you pray that you get a fast response. It is not that your boss does not want you to relax.  It is just that in an era of communications overload, it is easy to miss such requests.  Meanwhile, you cannot buy those air tickets.  Have you ever been in the shoes of a Manufacturing Manager and realizing that you will not be able to meet your Production goals as a key component is missing? The part that you had made a Purchase Requisition for was unfortunately never approved by the Procurement Manager.

In order to avoid such scenarios, our customer, a Global Beverage company, has deployed an “Approvals” chatbot. This chatbot integrates with SAP and is deployed on the Unvired Chyme Messenger.  It is built using the Chyme Bots Platform that has Natural Language Processing (NLP) capability. The chatbot was designed with a customized branded persona (formal tone, language, and style) in accordance with the customer brand guidelines. Highlights include:

Use Cases:

  • Procurement: Notification of new POs, View PO details, and take an Action (Approve/Reject)
  • HR: Notification of applied Leave, View leave details, and take an Action (Approve/Reject)

Business benefits are faster Decision making and increased Productivity.  The Supply Chain is expected to operate smoothly as out of stock material is minimized due to timely approvals of POs. Equally importantly, the employees are happy with their leave getting approved promptly.   The success of this is best demonstrated by the thousands of users who have adopted the “Approvals” chatbot.

We would love to hear from you.  If you want to learn more or share your feedback, please write to sales@unvired.com

Read More

Did Google Make your Heart Flutter?

Yes, we are not going to discuss romance here!  We are talking about Flutter, the new UI toolkit to build native apps for both iOS and Android from a single codebase. Our technical team at Unvired has evaluated Flutter and we think that this is a good way to build cross-platform native apps. Here are our initial thoughts:
  • Open Source and Free: We like the fact that it is open source and free.
  • Native Performance: We find that the performance is faster than hybrid mobile apps (as expected, but good to confirm).
  • Fast: Development is faster.
  • User Experience: It is possible to build UI that delivers an enhanced user experience or in Google’s words–beautiful apps.
Companies like Capital One, Alibaba, Tencent, and Google Ads are already using Flutter. It may be a good alternative to Xamarin. We are going to adopt Flutter. I am looking for feedback from people who have built apps using Flutter.
Pl. write to us at sales@unvired.com if you want to share some feedback or talk to us to build beautiful apps for your organization.
Read More

An HR Chatbot that Simplifies Leave Application for your Next Vacation

Let’s face it—you work hard and get the job done.  Now, it is time for some fun in the sand.  Yet, planning your vacation is not always fun.  The last time, you had to log in to SAP, click multiple times to apply for leave, and worse still, send multiple reminders to your very busy boss to approve your leave.  Now, that is a thing of the past.  Read on about how our customer, a Global Beverage company deployed an HR chatbot to enable employees to easily apply for leave and managers to approve it with minimum friction.  I am summarizing some of the highlights:

  • Uses Natural Language (plain English) for applying or approving leave.
  • Out of the box Integration with SAP ECC.
  • HR Request: Check Leave balance, Leave List, and Apply for Leave.
  • Approval: Managers receive Notifications/Alerts of Applied Leave requests, View Leave details, and take an action (Approve/Reject).
  • Chatbot designed with the customized branded persona (formal tone, language, and style) in accordance with the customer brand guidelines

The Business Impact is significant as the chatbot is used by over thousands of users.  The chatbot acts as a Virtual Assistant and simplifies the process of applying for leave from an intuitive chat interface.  Most importantly, leave requests are approved in time without the manager being needed to be prodded.  Indeed, a happy employee is an Engaged Employee, and morale and productivity have improved.

We would love to hear about Chatbots you have deployed.  Pl. comment or write to us at sales@unvired.com if you want to share some feedback or talk to us to begin your chatbot journey.

Read More