By: Jon Hong (jhong@mobiusriskgroup.com)

The “IT Department” sure isn’t what it was half a century ago: A windowless floor in the building, humming with main-frame systems and staffed with a handful of techies who knew how to keep the few computerized functions running. 

Today “IT” is not only the heart of many organizations but also the seat of innovation as well. And “IT” no longer is relegated to just one floor or room in a company. Instead, the people who build information technology are positioned to understand the core business objectives of their organization.

In the energy arena IT innovation, development, and maintenance are most often thought of as mission-critical initiatives for the operations side of the industry.  For the upstream community, this is most evident in drilling and completion techniques as well as remote well controls.  The midstream and downstream sectors have focused more on energy intensity IT solutions (less BTUs or MW per unit of throughput or output).  For almost two decades Mobius has embraced the power of the “IT Department” as the life-blood of an efficient commercial and risk management practice.  Gains made on the operational front through IT innovation can quickly evaporate without an equivalent application of IT resources supporting the financial and commercial team.

At inception, Mobius’ founding members set out to create an IT-based solution for position management which was deemed critical for a lean team of energy professionals to manage a large and diverse set of energy market exposures for its client base.  Over the years this founding principle has evolved to become a robust client-facing IT solution that delivers critical market intelligence directly to decision-makers and stakeholders throughout the energy industry.  

The Mobius RiskNet platform, and the IT professionals working daily to support and improve it, apply 3 core tenets to meet client needs.  These tenets are a must for any organization aiming to make the best use of IT investments.  Separately, information and technology are merely cost centers, yet when optimally integrated to truly represent what ‘IT’ is at its core, they become essential value drivers.

Integrity
Accurate data is critical, yet data only is as good as the systems used to manage it. If your risk management system for trades (both physical and financial) does not include thorough checks and balances, the probability for good data to be inappropriately applied, or for bad data to make its way into the system increases dramatically.  The compounding effect of poor data integrity is a costly efficiency destroyer that can be eliminated when an IT team and solution is not siloed or separated from the decision-makers.

Continuity
Facilitating the ability for your team to work untethered from a company office ensures business operates seamlessly, without downtime or reduction in productivity.  This year has driven the value of this tenet home for almost all industries, including the energy world where daily and monthly volatility can lead to significant discrepancies between plan and reality. In the post-COVID era, the advantages of seamless communications and tools needn’t depend upon physical location. 

Security
Security often only becomes a priority following a breach. This is unfortunate, as risks to data security are on the increase. We frequently hear of hackers gaining unauthorized access and exposing confidential data. Holding data for a ransom is not uncommon.  

Safeguarding your data with best practices for security requires a strategic approach to identify weak areas and predict potential algorithms for hacking. 

In addition to the above 3 tenets, Mobius’ IT professionals see the following inquiries as core to the goal of ensuring information technology is a value creator:

  1. What security measures ensure data is protected?  Are these measures up-to-date?
  2. If hardware is stolen or lost, what data may be extracted?
  3. Is data from each contributor backed up, regardless of a potential theft or storage failure?  How often is it backed up and who knows how to access backups?
  4. What tasks can be automated in an effort to maximize our most valuable and non-renewable resource – time?
  5. Are you able to perform your job in the event of a network outage or system failure?