Entries in business (8)


Wherefore art thou, Expert?

I don't buy the notion that we should be competent at everything we do. Unless you have chosen to specialize, as a petrophysicist or geophysical analyst perhaps, you are a generalist. Perhaps you are the manager of an asset team, or a lone geophysicist in a field development project, or a junior geologist looking after a drilling program. You are certainly being handed tasks you have never done before, and being asked to think about problems you didn't even know existed this time last year. If you're anything like me, you are bewildered at least 50% of the time.

In this post, I take a look at some problems with assuming technical professionals can be experts at everything, especially in this world of unconventional plays and methods. And I even have some ideas about what geoscientists, specialists and service companies can do about them...

Click to read more ...


News of the week

Happy Canada Day! Here is the news.

Scotian basin revivial?

Geologist–reporter Susan Eaton has a nice piece in the AAPG Explorer this month, explaining why some operators still see promise in the Scotian Basin, on Canada's Atlantic margin. The recent play fairway analysis mentioned in the report, however, is long overdue and still not forthcoming. When it is, we hope the CNSOPB and government promoters fully embrace openess and get more data into the public domain.

Yet another social network!

In the wake of LinkedIn's IPO, in which the first day of trading was over 500 times its net earnings in 2010, many other social networks are starting to pop up. Last month we mentioned SEG's new Communities. Finding Petroleum is a new social network, supported by the publishers of the Digital Energy Journal, aimed at oil and gas professionals. These sites are an anti-trust anomaly, since they almost have to be monopolies to succeed, and with so much momemtum carried by LinkedIn and Facebook, new entrants will struggle for attention. Most of the Commmunities in SEG seem to be essentially committee-based and closed, and LinkedIn micro-networks are getting chaotic, so maybe there's a gap here. Our guess is that there isn't.

The oil & gas blogosphere

Companies are increasingly turning to blogging and social media tools to expand their reach and promote their pursuits. Here are a couple of industry blogs that have caught our eye recently. If you are looking to read more about what's happening in subsurface oil and gas technology, these blogs are a good place to start.

If you use a microblogging service like Yammer, you may not know that you can also follow Twitter feeds. For example, here's a Twitter list of various companies in oil & gas.

Job security in geoscience

Historically, the oil and gas industry follows hot and cold (or, if you prefer, boom and bust) cycles, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts geoscience jobs will be increasingly in demand. A recent article from The Street reports on these statistics suggesting that the earth science sector is shaping up to be genuinely recession proof. If there is such a thing.

Agile* apps update

We're happy to report that all of Agile's apps have been updated in the last week, and we have a brand new app in the Android Market! The newest app, called Tune*, is a simple calculator for wedge modeling and estimating the amplitude tuning response of thin-beds, as shown here.

In our other apps, the biggest new feature is the ability to save cases or scenarios to a database on the device, so you can pull them up later.

Read more on our Apps page.

This regular news feature is for information only. Apart from Agile*, obviously, we aren't connected with any of these organizations, and don't necessarily endorse their products or services.


To free, or not to free?

Yesterday, Evan and I published our fourth mobile app for geoscientists. It's called AVO*, it does reflectivity modeling, and it costs $2. 

Two bucks?? What's the point? Why isn't it free? Well, it went something like this...

- So, this new app: is it free?
- Well, all our apps are free. I guess it's free.
- Yeah, we don't want to stop it from spreading. If it wants to spread, that is...
- But does free look... worthless? I mean, 'you get what you pay for', right? Look at all the awesome stuff we pay for: Amazon web services, Squarespace web hosting, Hover domain hosting, awesome computers,...
- So what would we charge?
- What do other people charge? 
- There are no 'other people'... But there are technical apps for oil and gas out there. Most of them cost $1.99, some are $4.99, one or two are $9.99. Who knows how many downloads they get? 
- I bet the total revenue is constant: if you charge $1 and get 1000 downloads, then you'll get 100 at $10. But that's an experiment you can never do—once you've charged some amount, you can't really go up. Or down.
- How do other people decide what to charge?
- I guess traditionally you might use a cost-plus model: the cost of production, plus a profit margin.
- What's our cost of production?
- Well, a few days of time... let's call it $5000. If we wanted to make $10 000, and only expect 500 people to even be in the market... It doesn't work. No-one will pay $20 for a cell phone widget.
- Won't they just expense it?
- Maybe... I don't think the industry is quite there yet.
- Hmm... I downloaded an app for $20 once [a seismograph]. And another for $10 [a banjo tuner]. I don't even think about paying $1 or $2. That amount is basically free. $1 is free.
- But a buck... isn't it just a pain to even get your credit card out?
- Well, once you're set up in Google Checkout, or iTunes or whatever, it's essentially one click. And then we get a sense of the real user base. The hard core!
- Yeah... right now about 50% of people who install an app nuke it a few days later.
- At least if it's under $5 we probably won't have to deal with refunds and other nonsense.
- Arrgghhhh... why is this so hard? 
- Let's make it $2. 
- Let's make it free.
- But this app is awesome. Awesome shouldn't be free. Awesome is never free. Awesome costs. 
- But isn't this really just a thing that says "Agile is awesome, check us out, hire us"? It's marketing.
- Maybe... but it's useful too. It works. It does something. It has Science Inside™. People will get $1-worth out of it every time they use it. If this was a <insert energy software empire> app it would cost $10 000.
- Can we ask people to pay what they want? Like what Radiohead did with In Rainbows?
- No because they're already huge. They invoke mass hysteria in grown men. We don't invoke mass hysteria. Among anyboy.
- Damn. OK. Let's make it nearly free. As-good-as-free. Free-ish. Pseudo-free. Free*.
- $2?
- $2.

So the app costs a toonie, and we promise you won't regret it for a second. If you can't afford it, email us and we'll send you a free one. If you really hate it, email us and we'll send you $3.

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