Eni – a multinational energy company with 76,000 employees in 70 countries – produces, transports, and markets oil and gas worldwide. It also operates in the electricity generation and sale, petrochemicals, oilfield services construction and engineering industries. Eni needed to create a knowledge management system for its Exploration & Production division that was capable of gathering, storing, and sharing its employees’ expertise on a global scale. It overhauled its legacy platform in the Exploration & Production division and replaced it with Microsoft® Office SharePoint Server 2007, successfully migrating all its previous databases and information repositories and creating new and improved management procedures.
As a market leader in the petroleum exploration and extraction business, Eni found that the knowledge and intuition of its technicians in the field often enabled it to cut down on the times and costs involved in the petroleum exploration and extraction process.
Eni decided to create a new knowledge management system for its Exploration & Production division (E&P) to enable sharing, saving, and dissemination of the expertise of its employees and partners in various areas.
||A company that builds an advanced knowledge management system has already decided to evolve into a modern organization, by questioning the validity of its procedures and management tools.
Chief Knowledge Officer,
Eni Exploration and Production
“The experience of people is the primary element of value within any organization, whether in our own sector or in any other field,” said Luigi Salvador, Chief Knowledge Officer at Eni E&P.
“The tacit knowledge of people, the result of their experiences, is the factor which most often allows for the resolution of problems deriving from a multiplicity of uncontrollable variables affecting our processes. Unlike explicit skills, tacit knowledge is actually difficult to formalize and channel within a given process.
“Eni deemed it was essential to set up a system that could allow its knowledge workers to easily share their experiences. To do this, technology tools were required which were capable of connecting in real time, and on a global scale, a variety of professionals at different levels of service seniority.”
The main challenge Eni faced was centered on defining a knowledge management method capable of capturing even those variables not easily controllable within a standardized process.
What was required was a solution that promoted the sharing of problems and solutions without imposing organizational or technology limitations, thereby creating points of contact among different professionals across the company, enabling the creation of business value.
In addition, it was essential to enhance the proactive behavior of people while conserving past experiences, in view of the important generational crossover impending in the oil and gas sector.
Defining Best Practices
Eni’s previous knowledge management application was developed based on a technology and various customized solutions which did not effectively address increases in volumes of information, nor encouraged proactivity among users.
Following an assessment of available solutions on the market, Eni chose Microsoft® Office SharePoint Server 2007 as its platform for its Knowledge Management Collaboration System (KMCS) for its capacity for information sharing and integrated communication between communities of users, called “Communities of Practice.”
A Smooth Migration
Eni collaborated with Microsoft’s Consulting Services division and the existing documentation was rapidly migrated to the new platform, integrated in the collaborative infrastructure, and customized in its interactive procedures between the various Communities of Practice.
Individual communities of experts were encouraged to share their experiences using the KMCS.
“Building a knowledge management system required a solution to various aspects of an organizational nature linked to the necessary cultural change,” said Salvador.
“On the contrary, the technology chosen by the IT department did not demonstrate any critical issues during the implementation phase, thanks also to Microsoft’s commitment in supporting a project which defines repeated best practices in different industrial sectors.”
||Eni deemed it was essential to set up a system that could allow its knowledge workers to easily share their experiences. To do this, technology tools were required which were capable of connecting in real time, and on a global scale...
Chief Knowledge Officer,
Eni Exploration and Production
Currently, the KMCS has grown to support 500 active users in the Communities of Practice, as well as 7,000 technicians worldwide, with the potential of reaching some 21,000 users.
So far, about 30 percent of the discussions have involved two or more communities coming together to solve a problem.
The application architecture is aligned with Eni’s technology standards and is integrated with current and future communications, messaging, and information search systems. Real time usage statistics integrated with the Microsoft product allow for a continuous control of activities, providing useful data for maintaining the system’s effectiveness.
Enhanced Productivity And Collaboration
The Knowledge Management Collaboration System’s governance structure differs from that of the company’s hierarchical and functional organizational model, in that knowledge is regarded as intangible and its management requires methodologies which overcome the classic limitations of data and document-sharing tools.
Using an “organizational and behavioral” technology, the system is able to gather information from all levels of the organization, which helps the company respond rapidly to changes.
Operators have responded very positively to the introduction of the KMCS platform, and in many cases, issues submitted to the system have resulted in significant benefits.
“Over 10 percent of solutions proposed by the communities were economically assessed based on consequent increases in production, cost reductions, or enabling operations that would otherwise have proven impossible,” said Salvador.
“A new procedure for reserves calculation generated by the KMCS system has, for instance, allowed for a 2 percent increase in capacity in one field. In another case, a problem in Pakistan was resolved in less than 24 hours thanks to the re-utilization of experiences sustained by our technicians in Venezuela.”
Through the suggestions of the Communities of Practice, an increase in production equal to tens of thousands of barrels was obtained at zero cost.
According to Eni’s E&P division, the Return on Investment for the knowledge management platform was equal to 25 times the project’s cost over the first year of use, and a further 20 percent increase in returns was achieved in the second year.
Today, the KMCS is leading Eni towards a “learning organization” model in which all knowledge is structured and shared so as to facilitate the full expression and potential of its knowledge workers.
The company’s adoption of SharePoint and Office Communications Server, along with new social networking logics, has allowed Eni to continue to evolve best practices and enhance the capacity of its operators to contribute.
“A company that builds an advanced knowledge management system has already decided to evolve into a modern organization, by questioning the validity of its procedures and management tools,” said Salvador. “We’re thus evolving towards a network model in which experts are the fundamental links in a dynamic and self-adaptive system facing changing scenarios and operating complexities.
“This vision brings us to listen to everyone who can contribute to the sharing of knowledge, with the awareness that whoever launches a winning idea creates value for individuals as well as for the company.
“Microsoft’s collaboration and communication tools have been recognized as essential factors in this important cultural change.”
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For more information about Eni products and services, call +39 06 59 82 1 or visit the Web site at: www.eni.it
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Document published January 2010