As the need for collaboration grows, the video conferencing industry provides. Microsoft and Accenture have published survey results showing that the oil and gas industry has looked to video conferencing as a solution for major problems within the industry. Accessing information at anytime from anywhere is a key factor in business success, and having the ability to share data and communicate in real time provides major benefits.  As a result, the need for video collaboration in this industry is steadily increasing as workplace dynamics continue to change.

Approximately 200 oil and gas industry professionals including engineers, mid-level and executive management, business unit heads and staff, project managers and geoscientists, were candidates for completing Microsoft and Accenture’s online survey in order to determine how video conferencing has affected the gas and oil industry. Results show that the percentage of oil and gas professionals that are collaborating is increasing, and 35% have spent more time collaborating. Social networking has also become a major business collaboration tool as well, and is growing each year. Results of the survey also show that instant messaging and social networks are the most popular social media tools for business collaboration, and the usage of internal company social networks has increased.

Video conferencing has been a definite solution for the problems that this industry faces. Problems, such as a lack of skills and an aging work force, make it difficult for this industry to stay modern and keep up. Younger generations don’t have the skills and experience needed to maintain the industry. There are also issues with breaking workflow and challenges involving knowledge sharing. Video conferencing has allowed these issues to dissolve, as collaboration allows users to share information in real time and creates an outlet for easy communication.

While many companies find that video conferencing is a solution, about 30% of the companies surveyed are still hesitant about the technology and restrict its usage, leading employees to be weary of using social tools in the workplace. However, 40% of employees surveyed feel that there is not enough teamwork among employees and social tools drive collaboration. The survey has also shown that there are distinct differences between counties, sectors and genders relating to productivity.

Every company utilizes their tools in different ways. Some feel that video collaboration will make them more successful, while others may not. However, the majority of companies that participated in this survey have realized the benefits of video conferencing and are integrating it into their daily business routines, thus improving collaboration, speeding up customer response and assistance, and creating a new competitive advantage.

When most of us think about oil, we are mainly concerned with how much it will cost to fill up our cars with gasoline. What we don’t consider is how gasoline actually arrives ready at the pump – the refining process that breaks crude oil down into a variety of consumer and industrial products. This process is the domain of commodity brokers – individuals who make their living putting together deals between buyers and sellers of petroleum products to feed the public’s inelastic demand.

Commodity brokers are often headquartered in one office, with several satellite locations located across the globe. Brokers must communicate with other energy brokers, traders, and clients throughout the day, while simultaneously watching movement of the markets. Communication – not to mention access to information – can make or break a deal.

Brokerage firms are turning to unified communications (UC) solutions that include video conferencing solutions to facilitate the deals that take place among numerous participants in dispersed locations. For example, UC solutions are used to:

  • Improve communication among the firm’s headquarters and satellite offices. Brokers in remote locations such as Omaha, Nebraska or Houston, Texas can maintain a presence in the New York City headquarters by remaining on video on a main screen that is visible to everyone. This creates the feeling that the remote brokers are part of the New York team, and information about clients, commodity prices, and deals can easily be shared at a moment’s notice.
  • Improve relationships with clients by strengthening rapport and building trust. Much of the communication among brokers is conducted via instant message and email. This method is effective, but lacks a personal touch. Even when there is communication over the phone, clients may not feel entirely comfortable with a transaction that is worth millions of dollars if the broker is an unknown entity. Once introductions have been made over video, and video is used as part of the communication mix, trust is established and maintained and as a result, deals are facilitated.
  • Monitor the fluctuation in petrochemical prices that occur daily on the New York Mercantile Exchange and other markets. Data from the Mercantile Exchange remains depicted on a main screen the entire day, reflecting prices in real-time.

Video can be used to achieve impressive results in the world of commodity brokers when used as part of a cloud-based UC solution that includes integration with voice, instant message, and data. When communication is improved and deals are facilitated, the result is thousands of dollars in commissions – amounts that easily and quickly justify the cost of the investment in technology.