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.

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7 Reasons Why Enterprises are Investing in Mobility Solutions

The Enterprise Mobility market is constantly growing, and there is no sign of it slowing down. More and more businesses are depending upon mobility solutions to streamline their business operations. According to Enterprise Mobile Apps Report by Adobe, enterprise mobile apps drive competitive advantage and companies that have not deployed enterprise mobile apps are at a clear disadvantage. With Gartner predicting enterprise mobility as one of the top 10 strategic technologies, organizations ignore it at their own risk. This has led enterprise organizations of every type and size to embrace mobility solutions in an effort to keep pace and meet ever-changing customer demand. Thus, enterprise mobile apps for businesses are not a choice anymore, rather they have become a necessity to stay relevant.

Mobile Apps enable organizations to transform their operations. They have reshaped the revenue models, strategies, business operations, and the way employees interact and manage their professional lives. Mobile solutions help the organization to access data securely and perform the work anytime, anywhere. Here are the 7 reasons why enterprises are investing in mobility solutions:

  1. Optimized Field Services: Mobile applications for field services offer immense business benefits by automating and optimizing the service management processes. Field technicians equipped with mobile apps that can view, execute and confirm work orders can streamline the processes and optimize the cost of service management. Using mobile apps, field workers can capture the equipment information, create and send a notification, receive new work orders, execute the work orders, share the GPS location, pictures and make comments in real-time for predictive maintenance to avoid any potential equipment breakdown which negatively impacts.
  2. Digitization of Paper-Based Forms: Paper forms are a costly affair and difficult to manage. There is a myriad of paper forms used every day for inspection rounds, work orders, surveys, visit reports, and compliance regulations for both Asset Management and Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) checks. Relying on paper-based forms to collect data prevents companies from making informed decisions due to outdated data which in turn leads to asset downtime and safety/compliance risks. So, organizations are going digital and converting paper forms into mobile forms that can make processes more streamlined and improve worker productivity and asset uptime/safety. Digital Forms can be integrated with enterprise backend systems such as SAP, SharePoint, and other databases for real-time Users can access these forms on the mobile app and in just a few clicks, they can complete and submit their digital forms for review, approval or storage.
  3. Increased Operational Efficiency: Mobility offers the flexibility for the employees to work away from the office anytime, anywhere which increases their efficiency, resulting in better outcomes. Employees can access real-time backend data from ERP systems such as SAP, Oracle, and IBM to perform the tasks. They can also capture the data and update in SAP through mobile devices while away from the office.
  4. Enterprise Collaboration: Business mobility enables workplace collaboration of partners, teams, and individuals regardless of where they are based. Emails and phone calls make this an ineffective process lacking transparency but a mobile application with a simple user interface enables various groups to communicate, share information, take actions and record them in backend systems.
  5. Better Customer Service: Customer Service is one of the main pillars of any organization. Customers will stay loyal only if you give them a great customer service experience. Mobile Apps are a great channel to connect with your customers and employees anytime, anywhere.
  6. Real-Time Analytics/Dashboards: Integrating a mobile reporting system into mobile apps, will allow your employees to report faster on the projects they are working on. With a mobile device, plant operators or technicians can view analytics in real-time to make faster decisions.
  7. Return on Investment: The ROI from mobile apps are driven by long-term benefits mainly driven by cost savings, operational efficiency, employee productivity, enhanced customer service, and more. Businesses save huge amounts by mobilizing the business processes and converting manual processes into automated ones.

Defining a Mobile strategy, Integration with systems like SAP, data security, architecting the optimal architecture, deploying mobile apps on multiple OS, and updating them over the lifecycle are only some of the challenges enterprises face. Unvired’s mobile strategists can help you with your Mobile/Digital transformation.

Unvired is a leading enterprise mobility company with decades of experience in mobilizing business processes and backend systems such as SAP, Oracle, IBM, SharePoint at significantly lower cost and less time to deploy. Unvired offers solutions to quickly build, manage, deliver, and optimize powerful enterprise mobile and web apps for businesses.

If you have any questions, feel free to write to me at susheel.kumar@unvired.com.

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Use Cases of Chatbots in Healthcare Industry

We have been hearing a lot that chatbots will reduce human jobs in coming years. We are already seeing this trend in industries like Manufacturing, Engineering, and Customer Service among others but can Chatbots replace Doctors and Nurses in Healthcare? The answer is ‘Very Unlikely’ given the fact that each person is unique in health and lifestyle and a simple mistake in the medical treatment can be dangerous to human life.

Yet, chatbots have become a trust-worthy virtual assistant who can handle the helpdesk and administrative tasks to save time and cost while improving the quality and effectiveness of healthcare services. Chatbots have the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry by offering 24/7 helpdesk support and personalized experience to patients which is the major challenge for healthcare providers. Chatbots can help patients to get quick answers to their health-related questions among many other use cases.

Here are some of the use cases of Chatbots in the healthcare industry which can improve the quality and effectiveness of healthcare services:

  • Scheduling Doctor’s Appointment:

    Who has not experienced long waits on the phone to schedule an appointment with a doctor but what if we can schedule the appointment over text/messaging apps without interacting with a human? Yes, Chatbots can ease the business process and give a personalized experience to patients while scheduling an appointment. They can also send reminders about the appointment to the patients.

  • 24/7 Support to Patients:

    This is something we miss in the current healthcare system. Chatbots never sleep and they can provide 24/7 support to patients. Chatbots can answer simple and frequently asked questions (FAQs) anytime. It may not offer a diagnosis but can monitor the health status and notify a Nurse immediately if the parameters are out of control.

  • Medication Reminders to Patients:

    Patients often forget to take medications and nutrition supplements as prescribed and it can risk their health. This is where Chatbots can be very helpful to send medication reminders at a prescribed time to take the drugs. Chatbots can also send the reminders for re-prescription of medicines, routine checkups, and other health-related

  • Billing and Registration:

    An intelligent Chatbot can take care of billing, inventory, and insurance claims management through integration with backend systems to generate the invoices for the payments. Health Insurance providers can deploy a bot to answer questions related to insurance coverage, claims, and procedures.

  • Paperless System:

    Chatbots can be integrated with EHR/EMR systems to create and maintain the medical data of the patients. These documents can be accessed by the patient or the doctor whenever there is a need.

Chatbots offer the great user experience to the users but the key is to develop and train the Chatbot to communicate accurately. As the advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) progresses, these chatbots will be more knowledgeable and offer a more human experience in future.

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Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Mobile Apps

As you go about implementing your Digital/Mobile strategy, one of the decisions that you will have to make is whether to build for the Mobile Web or Native apps or both. There has always been a debate around this, but the lines between them are blurring now. Gone are the days when you were required to go Native for high-performance apps, offline capability, or if you needed an app icon installed on the home screen. Although web technologies have evolved significantly, there are no clear-cut answers yet. Specifically, Google has invested in technologies that enable the creation of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which combine the best of the two worlds—that of mobile web and native apps. We share below our take on PWAs based on research on this topic and our experience of enabling customers with their digital/mobile requirements.

What are PWAs?

In a nutshell, PWAs bring native app-like functions and features to websites. They should work on all smart devices, adapting the performance to the ability of the device, browser, and connection.

The key Benefits are:

  • Works across platforms (Desktop, Web, Android, Windows, and iOS (Safari has limitations)
  • Option to save the PWA icon to the Home screen
  • The ability to send push notifications
  • Some offline capability to provide a good User Experience is possible
  • Make payments
  • Access native device features like camera
  • No need for any App download or seek Approval from App Stores
  • Easier to use in Low Bandwidth Conditions or on lower end smart devices
  • Easy Discoverability and Shareability (just share a link)
  • Less Costly to Develop compared to Native apps as no need to maintain different code bases for Web, Android, IOS, and Windows
  • Fast Loading: Order of Magnitude Lower Data Sizes compared to Native apps

In fact, one of the most attractive features of PWAs is their download size, compared with iOS apps and Android apps. This is important because the smaller the size, the quicker the download, and better the performance.

Limitations of PWAs

It should also be noted that PWAs today have some limitations, especially for the iOS Platform. As Safari has yet to implement the Service Worker feature, PWAs on iPhones and iPads are not able to send push notifications or work offline.  As far as Windows goes, Microsoft is in the process of supporting Service Workers in their Edge browser.

PWAs Vs. Native Apps

Now that we understand PWAs, a natural question to ask is whether PWAs eliminate the need for Native apps. This question is best answered by analyzing what strategy enterprises are actually undertaking in the real world.  Google has shared the Case Studies of Twitter and Lancome, and the highlights are:

Twitter PWA Case Study

The Twitter Lite PWA combines the best of the modern web and native features. It became the default mobile web experience for all users globally in April 2017. Twitter developed Twitter Lite to deliver a more robust experience, with explicit goals for instant loading, user engagement, and lower data consumption. Twitter’s website reaches millions of users, but it’s traditionally been difficult to re-engage users on the mobile web. After implementing the “Add to Home screen” prompt asking users to save Twitter Lite to their home screens, Twitter has seen 250,000 unique daily users launch Twitter Lite from the home screen 4 times a day on average. Twitter also implemented web push notifications that work the same as those from native apps and arrive even if the user’s browser is closed. The implementation is delivering over 10 Million push notifications a day. Full details can be read at:

https://developers.google.com/web/showcase/2017/twitter

Lancome PWA Case Study

At first, Lancôme considered building an e-commerce mobile app but decided that an app only made sense for customers who visited regularly. They understood that shoppers on Lancôme’s mobile site behave differently, and wouldn’t return to an e-commerce app. Lancôme wanted to build the right user experience (UX) on all of their devices. The company needed a fast-loading, compelling mobile experience, similar to what they could achieve with a native app but one that was also discoverable and accessible to everyone via the mobile web.

Instead of minimally updating their underlying site, Lancôme looked to PWA technologies to provide an immersive, app-like experience. They took advantage of service workers to deliver reliable performance on unstable networks and push notifications for re-engagement. Their best-in-class PWA achieves a performance score of 94/100 on Lighthouse, an automated tool for improving web page quality.

With the new PWA, the time until the page is interactive fell by 84%, compared to their previous mobile experience.  Lancôme saw their mobile sessions rise by more than 50%, and conversions increase by 17%. Full details can be read at:

https://developers.google.com/web/showcase/2017/lancome

Recommendations

The Unvired view is that enterprises do not need to necessarily choose between native apps and PWAs. Companies like Twitter, Lancome, and Ola Cabs (a leading cab service in India) have both native apps and PWAs. It really depends on the business strategy, target customers/markets, and the prevailing bandwidth/mobile devices environment.  There are various possible Scenarios:

  1. Existing Web and Native Apps Presence: You have several options. If you already have developed native apps, you should continue to enhance their User Experience if the native experience is very important for you.   At the same time, you may want to move your website to a PWA to enhance performance.
  2. Existing Web Presence Only: This may imply that native apps are not critical for you. Evaluate moving to PWA and get the best of the mobile web and native apps.
  3. Poorly Performing Website on Mobile: Evaluate moving to PWA and get the best of the mobile web and native apps.
  4. Existing Native Apps Presence Only: Enhance Native Apps if the native functionality is critical. Else, evaluate moving to PWA.
  5. No App Presence at all (for example a New Company/Product): Evaluate PWA as a first option while recognizing that PWA is limited on iOS currently (No offline, No Push Notifications). Instead of Web + Native (iOS) +Native (Android) +Native (Windows 10), you can build only for Web + iOS.

I would love to hear your views on this topic—have you implemented PWAs as yet? Pl. write to me at alok.pant@unvired.com to share your thoughts.

 

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Developing Apps and other Integrations with the UMP REST API

The Unvired Mobile Platform offers a rich set of REST APIs to build custom integrations easily.  The REST APIs are broadly classified into APIs that deal with:

  • Sessions - Handles persistent login sessions
  • Users - Work with Unvired users (Create, Update, List, Lock etc)
  • Groups - Work with groups of users (Create, Update, List etc)
  • Applications and Libraries - Work with Unvired applications and libraries (Execute functions, Deploy, Undeploy, Configure Properties and Settings etc)
  • Messages and Attachments - Queue messages, attachments, retrieve them etc.

Other APIs include:

  • Companies - Work with Unvired Companies (Departments) (Create, Update, Activate plans, List etc)
  • Status - Get technical status information on the platform for monitoring etc.

Some use cases can be to create a user in the UMP when a user is provisioned in MS Active Directory, or write command line tools that create users/groups based on other Identity Management systems like ADS, LDAP etc, deploy (make available) applications to users belonging to specified ADS groups etc.  The APIs can also be used to for e.g. execute functionality in an enterprise system like a ticketing system from a web site wherein the user can request support.

The APIs are documented in detail and the documentation is made available as Swagger definitions for import into API testing tools, code generation etc.  Additionally, if you are a Postman fan (http://getpostman.com) you can directly import the UMP Postman collection to work with the APIs and test/develop.

The detailed documentation can be accessed at the Unvired Developer Portal (http://developer.unvired.com)

Enjoy developing smart integrations.

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