When I’m at home I can tap a button and my lights turn on, tap another button and dinner is ordered, scream at my Alexa and I instantly order more toilet paper.

Why isn’t industrial tech this simple?

In industrial markets, we go from having damn-near superhuman powers given to us from the tech in our daily lives, to being sent back to the year 2000 with our tech at work. All that’s missing is that brick Nokia phone. (Still proud of my high score in Snake though.) 

Other industries have innovated. Retail, financial services, and healthcare have all seen incredible and steady advancements in the technology they use on the job. Why are industrial technology solutions stuck ten years behind? 

Our industry is no stranger to innovation. Developing and revolutionizing how we get resources out of the ground is at the heart of oil and gas. And sure, we’ve stepped up our game in making the most of GPS and RFID tech in the field, but bringing innovation to the back-office is practically nonexistent. I’m talking about those time-consuming, complex processes that fill our days with menial work. Things we do every day, like managing our job sites, sourcing equipment, tracking quotes, and the like remain completely unaddressed.

Current industrial technology solutions have failed us. You deserve tech that makes you superhuman, not stuck in the past.

Stuck in the Dot-Com Days… 

I’ve been in the industrial world for over a decade and, for better or worse, have had my fair share of using the technology that’s available in our industry. The problem with a lot of this technology is that it was built in the early 2000s (aka the dot-com boom) and hasn’t innovated much since then.

It’s Just Data Entry

Traditionally, the technology for industrial markets has been built with a focus on data entry. This means a lot of software solutions just give you access to a database of information, without much thought of making it easy to use or even improving the technology so you can do more with it. As a result, these applications often feel archaic and clunky—and even worse, many are slow, bloated, and hard to use.

Where’s the Innovation?

Just think about the capabilities and the ease of use of your cell phone or computer comparing what you had in 2003 to now. Truly a night and day difference, right? Without constant innovation of technology, software doesn’t evolve to meet our expectations. Even worse, it can end up causing more time and frustration surrounding the task that you are trying to offload onto the software.

… So We’re Stuck with the Same Problems

With technology stuck in Y2K, we’re stuck with the same problems that have been plaguing our industry for decades. In industrial markets from drilling sites and completion jobs to construction projects, operations are feeling the strain.

Zero Visibility

By default, our operations are inherently decentralized. We’re often running multiple job sites in various locations and have no visibility into our operations overall. Leadership teams can’t keep their finger on the pulse of their entire organization. There’s not even clarity on what assets are where, and what is or isn’t being used. If you’ve ever had an invoice come in for a piece of equipment that you didn’t even know was in the field, you know exactly the kind of frustration this causes. 

Visibility into costs across your operations and at specific job sites or AFEs is nearly impossible to achieve—thanks to spend reports that are delayed anywhere from 60 to 90 days. As a result, money is wasted every single month on assets that aren’t even being used.

Rampant Inefficiency

Nearly every department feels the burn of inefficiency—whether it’s the folks in the field, Supply Chain, Accounting, Finance, or even the C-Suite. When you’re dealing with commodities, you’re at the mercy of the market. So in down times, one single person could be responsible for everything from equipment and services to invoices, contracts, safety, etc.

Nowhere are these inefficiencies clearer than in the realm of job site management and equipment procurement. Operators have massive vendor lists that are a beast to manage. Even these huge lists don’t prevent the constant scramble to get quotes for assets that may or may not be “just-in-time” needs in the field. And even after a request for a quote is submitted, tracking them is a mess and typically attempted with decentralized spreadsheets (or not at all).

It’s Time to Demand More 

Folks in the industrial sector are some of the most tenacious people you’ll ever meet. No matter the obstacles thrown at them, they’ll find a way to get to the finish line. So when something isn’t working for us, we’ll find a way through, around, or over it no matter the cost.

But that doesn’t mean we should settle for the status quo.

Yes, disintermediation and inefficiencies abound. However, we are at the dawn of a new age: the Fourth Industrial Revolution (otherwise known as Industry 4.0). This revolution is the driving force behind connecting physical and digital worlds—and is the catalyst we need to be successful where current industrial technology solutions have failed.

What is Industry 4.0, why does it matter, and how is it affecting your business? Hitched’s Chief Product Officer Zach Holmquist is here to give you the complete picture. Head over to his post Industry 4.0: Why It Matters for Industrial Markets for the full run-down.

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