Honestly, what is your reaction to a message that promises answers to all of the problems you and your company are struggling with? From long experience, when a solution sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Many messages sound like a solution looking for a problem and hoping to get lucky with your account.
Often, the pitch comes from a pure technology perspective. It is hard to resist the bright shiny new toy that emerging technology provides. We all get excited and distracted in tool wars with tech stuff, like a young kid opening a present on Christmas Eve. Usually, tech developers are more interested in new technology and advanced code, but an operator is interested in how it will help them solve practical problems. This is the source of a lot of missed opportunities for both parties. It might be wise to look for a solution that has been proven in the oil patch.
With a long history of broken promises, unrealistic sales pitches, canned demos that won't really work with your data and computing environment, how do you get started looking for breakthrough innovation? Trust and credibility are essential, but when the conversation begins with more skepticism than interest, how do you break down those walls. Often the innovation sounds like it is too good to be true, but sometimes it just might be the thing you have been searching for.
The conversation needs to start with a search for the right problem. The right question isn't always the one with the latest and greatest technology, but it is the one that creates value or solves a nagging problem. The goal is to solve operations problems and create value, whether that is lowering costs, improving productivity and safety, or spending more time in the analysis and less on the data management and workflows. The new innovation has to be viewed from the eyes of the operators' world. When you are bogged down in handling all the latest data from the field automation systems, automating your advanced analytics and simulation workflow seems too good to be true.
Right now, you want to see use cases where others have created value from the platform. Few want to go first and take on the early adopter risks. Few trusts the technology gurus or management consultants. They would love to see solutions that their competitors have developed and are using today to produce practical solutions. The ones they don't talk about at industry conferences or on the advertising webinars because they are using them every day.
So, there are challenges on both sides. The solution provider has to find the right client. Although you may have to start with these groups, the client's real voice is not the emerging tech group, the analytics center of excellence, or the IT department. If you are referred to either of these groups, you have to work harder and push further. The real voice of the client for your platform solution is a decision-maker in operations. That champion has to be a strategic thinker, a risk-taker, and have the urgency to solve critical problems now and is looking for a partner to help them accomplish their business plan, not just more technology to buy.
The solutions provider has to be willing to put some of their skin in the game. By offering a pilot or proof of value, the solution provider should work with client resources on a pressing problem and show that their claims are valid. This proof of value can't take forever, or the client will lose interest, so pick carefully. It really doesn't matter what part of the business you choose or what kind of problem, just as long as it is essential to the decision-maker and can build credibility in her eyes.
Yes, there will be challenges and some passive resisters. You will have the NIH (not invented here) crowd to tell you that is not the way we do things around here. As you propose standard approaches to address productivity problems, they will tell you they like standards, but your standard is not the standard they want to use. It almost seems at times that they don't really want to solve the problem at all. But don't make enemies of those that will be using the solution. Patience, communications, and good planning will be crucial in these proof of values as your technology platform.
So, when something sounds too good to be true, listen more closely to see if the salesman is speaking your language. Did the developers come from a place that understands the problems you are facing? Do they just want a sales commission, or do they want to be a partner? There are some solutions out there (shameless plug, PetroVisor™) that fit these criteria. At first, a platform that seems 'Too good to be true' just might be what you have been searching for. You just have to know what you are looking for.