ITF Operations Director, Keith Mackie highlights the challenge ITF faces demonstrating impact and value adds....
The challenge to demonstrate positive impact and value-add has never been a more topical discussion point within ITF than it is just now, being presented to us a number of times recently in a number of different guises and situations.
It’s an interesting challenge to consider when reflecting on any customer-focused organisation such as ITF. When confronted with effectively having to prove your worth it’s something that can make you stop abruptly in your tracks and maybe think more seriously about things that you may have previously taken for granted or assumed that people just knew.
In the case of ITF, isn’t it obvious? We’ve been in existence for more than 15 years, have facilitated the launch of in excess of 200 Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) generating nearly £70m of direct funding for researchers and developers globally along the way. Doesn’t that adequately answer the challenge to demonstrate our worth…or are we missing a more fundamental point?
In the current climate of low oil price, now more than ever it’s vitally important for ITF to take a more holistic view on our past, present and future impact and to articulate loudly and clearly the value proposition we offer over and above ‘merely’ facilitating the launch of x JIPs worth a total of £y per year.
Would specific new technologies developed and implemented as a result of those ITF- facilitated JIPS been developed anyway and without ITF’s involvement? I’d suggest that in some cases, of course yes, but in many other cases, perhaps not. ITF has a rich history of stimulating innovation, creativity and facilitating the delivery of new technology for the upstream oil and gas industry through focussed technology Calls for Proposals. In doing so, we can legitimately point to providing both the research community and the operator companies making up our Membership with considerable financial and technical benefit in a variety of different ways. Add to the mix providing the mechanism for the collective sharing of risk and not forgetting the more intangible, less easy to put your finger on ‘cognitive’ benefit and knowledge obtained through networking, relationship building and active participation in collaborative projects and you start to build a compelling, but as yet untold story.
We can anecdotally demonstrate success of having launched a significant number of JIPs not just in the UK but across the various regional clusters where we are active. We can clearly point to a number of companies that are now active and thriving, having spun out of JIPs originally facilitated by ITF. We can justifiably be proud of having brought together companies in areas such as the Middle East and Brazil who would previously have had no experience of collaboratively working on and funding technology projects. We have real life examples of ‘working locally and collaborating globally’ in action, bringing technology and research capability from one geographical region to another. Although ITF is not the only oil and gas industry organisation facilitating JIPs, we are the only oil and gas industry organisation with the remit and capability to facilitate JIPs globally. However, even that does not go far enough to answer the original challenge. Taken to fundamental levels, impact can be described as ‘a marked effect or influence’. Value can be understood as ‘the numerical amount denoted by an algebraic term; a magnitude, quantity, or number’. I think it’s fair to say that ITF needs to be doing more to demonstrate impact and value for our Members and also for the industry itself.
And we are. By better understanding the content and value of our current portfolio of some 20 projects, ITF can help to address difficult challenges such as continuing to next phases, identifying and pulling together field trialling opportunities and commercialisation. With regards to our past portfolio of completed projects, we are working to establish where that technology has gone, what (if anything) it needs to be progressed further, where it is being actively used. Underpinning the work required to analyse that impact information is the need to quantify it in real terms such as production efficiency, cost savings, improved safety and so on. We are starting to prioritise and address this work on a number of small high profile projects, with the intention being to develop a model for doing this that can be used across our whole portfolio. Bolstering the value of this project information will be the less obvious but equally impactful value gained from ITF providing the means for collaboration to be undertaken at many levels across the industry. Understanding all our stakeholders in more detail is an essential part of that process.
Perhaps human nature dictates that it’s not politically correct to shout too much about our successes and achievements. The work we have undertaken so far has shown that over the last 15 years, ITF has had its fair share of success, and in doing so has provided a positive impact and delivered value to the industry and our members. It’s now time we told everyone about it in terms that the industry can relate to!