Monday, 1 February 2010

Rebranding conferences

Last week I presented at the PPDM London User Group Meeting, and the week prior at Finding Petroleum's (FP) January Conference.

(click logos to access websites)

Both had a mix of petroleum operators and service companies. The Inmarsat Centre in London held around 100 FP attendees, whilst the Meadhurst across from host bp in Sunbury held around 30. Both were maiden-shows for their respective organisers - thus reflecting their leaders' following, David Bamford @ FP and Trudy Curtis @ PPDM - and expecting growth next year. And both had a wide variety of topics ranging from operator experiences in the Eastern Hemisphere, to new technologies in geology, geophysics and data management.

Both are also the rebranding of conferences in days of cutting cost and emissions. FP touts itself as a tighter alternative to geoscience societies' megashows ranging in the thousands (tens of thousands in the US) of attendees, with concommittant multi-track venues and programs. PPDM is a standards association that focusses its effort - a recent one is defining what is a well, the atomic business object of the oil patch, which means different things to operators, vendors and agencies - although its offerings are as wide (read: large) and specific (read: esoteric) as others like Energistics (XML for petroleum) or Open Geospatial Consortium (all things geospatial).

But at the end of the day, both were about communications: meet&greet to set up business and professional relationships, which then (and only then) can be followed up via email, web, skype, blogs or twitter (in order of vintage if not usage). It is also about community building, and not only the same old over-50s reaching out to the new under-30s - one attendee found the new audience in London a refreshing change (weather-wise too) from his hometown Houston. The main question is heard: what technologies are really going to make a difference, and how are they to be deployed in ways that help finding petroleum... rather than tuning databases?

A recurring theme was also, same as we use dictionaries to speak to each other in different languages, petroleum users must build up and document their metadata repositories. These are increasingly important as a consequence of increased in inter-operabilty among services (no longer just competitors) and oil companies (joint venturers), as well as inter-communications (via WANs or the web) - find more in this blog by searching for: standards and metadata - and that was the topic of my talk at both shows: