The oil business is a tight market because we get paid the same amount for a barrel of oil as our competitors, and oil prices are depressed right now. This means that we have to operate very efficiently to make money. We’re adopting a cloud-first mindset and using Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Azure to help us do that.
Devon Energy is one of the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in North America. We produce about 250,000 barrels of oil and 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. We’re based in Oklahoma City, but the vast majority of our 3,500 employees work in the field, at drilling and production sites. We want to make our employees as productive as possible, wherever they are.
Over the years, we’ve deployed many technologies that support Devon’s business. What makes Microsoft 365 Enterprise unique is that it includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), and has the potential to empower all our users. We’re making Windows 10 our standard operating system for nearly 8,000 desktop and laptop computers. This will give our employees a better cloud experience and allow us to use the security capabilities built into EMS. We’re also looking forward to using Windows 10 roaming profiles to support more remote workforce capabilities. We’re very interested in the advanced authentication capabilities like bio-metrics, anomalous user behavior detection, and data protection capabilities that EMS provides.
Devon is a data-driven company, and we use sophisticated digital tools to find oil and gas in rock formations and reservoirs. The challenge is to get the right data to the right people at the right time. Office 365 will give our field workers new capabilities to access that data immediately—from any device—to make a drilling decision, repair a well, approve a purchase order, or expedite delivery of needed materials to a work site. Our field employees are making decisions in real-time about where to position a drill bit a mile underground to produce the best results, and often they need to consult with engineers and petrotechnical professionals back in Oklahoma City or Calgary, Alberta. By using Skype for Business Online on their mobile devices, they can connect to colleagues 1,000 miles away and get the input they need. Our time-to-productivity has improved because of this easier access to data; in some cases, we’ve reduced hours to minutes.
Another example of empowering our workforce is the grassroots do-it-yourself training videos that have sprung up. This started as a simple communications tool for the IT department. Now, other parts of our business have adopted it, as employees have figured out how to make videos on their smartphones or laptops and share them with colleagues over Skype for Business or SharePoint Online. Soon, a field operator might record a repair or installation procedure and share it with others online. Or someone in accounting might add narration to a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to make their content more impactful and clear. Our people are our differentiators, and Office 365 helps them collaborate in ways that directly benefit the business.
Power BI is another example. Because it’s built into Microsoft 365 E5, we’ve been able to commoditize dashboard creation so anyone can do it—and that has dramatically increased usage. Dashboards are important to the way our management makes decisions. It simplifies access to and understanding of complex data whether production or financial.
Beyond Microsoft 365 E5, we’re moving line-of-business applications and our disaster recovery operations to Microsoft Azure. This offers rapid application deployment, speed to market, and scalability, with potential for significant cost savings.
Our ability to right-size our technology is key to managing costs in the cloud. We continually buy and sell field assets, so our workforce continually expands and contracts. Previously, we would build for peak capacity and end up with underutilized datacenter resources. With Azure and Microsoft 365 Enterprise, we can right-size our technologies and scale as needed.
As an IT professional, I love it when IT is viewed as a business enabler rather than a cost center. The Microsoft Cloud empowers all our employees in very tangible ways.
The writer Matt Harper is the Director of Information Security and Infrastructure at Devon Energy