Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior
Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – November 4, 2013
Mr. O’Dwyer, the tag line on your site is, “Simplify Your Data”. Would you
tell how Raven Bay Services achieves this goal?
Mr. O’Dwyer: Our business is focused on
business analytics. We leverage existing data to provide one version of the
truth. We work mostly in the oil and industry, so pulling data from many
systems is commonplace. It is exciting for us to provide a collective view
of that data. The consolidated view often reveals results that might not
have been apparent before bringing it together. We enable our clients to
stop administrating data sources of data rolled up into digestible reports
so that the end user can make decisions.
Analytics is a buzz word these days; what do you understand at Raven Bay
Services about analytics that perhaps others do not?
Mr. O’Dwyer: We look at business
problems as practically as possible. We have to understand our clients’
businesses. We are skilled at bringing the right people to the table to get
the answers that are required. Our advantage is looking at information from
a distance because there are times when our clients are too close to the
When you are talking with a perspective customer, what is the “ah-ha” moment
when they understand that your approach might be different and superior?
Mr. O’Dwyer: We use an iterative
approach to analytics, so we deliver something results quickly. With any
project, whether it is technology or building a house, you want to see
results as quickly as possible. We see ah-ha moments all the time. It is
You mentioned oil and gas in Calgary; are there particular industries of
focus for Raven Bay Services?
Mr. O’Dwyer: We do work across many
industries because data is data. Our people come from oil and gas, retail,
agriculture, distribution, environment consulting and publishing. We have
many years of consulting expertise under our belt so we are not restricted
to oil and gas, but given we are headquartered in Calgary we do spend a fair
bit of time in that industry.
What are some of the challenges involved in the analytics for oil and gas?
Mr. O’Dwyer: It is interesting because
much of it is about efficiencies. Typically companies know how much oil and
gas comes out of the ground, but the information gathered from obtaining the
lease to putting it in the pipe involves many different departments. Many
companies today live in the world of spreadsheets and those are hard to
share. Our time is spent working with different departments to determine how
they interpret information. By taking static spreadsheet data and making it
“live” with significant intelligence behind the data, it takes the
administrative side out of the equation and allows people to spend their
time on decision making. In a way we are data counselors trying to help
different departments understand each other.
Do most companies today understand the need for the kind of analytics that
you provide or is it still not 100% mainstream?
Mr. O’Dwyer: Definitely! I do not think
that there is a business out there today that does not want better
information. Isn’t the first step admitting there is a problem. Now that the
problem has been identified – “we need better information” – we can find
ways to solve the problem. Sometimes it’s consolidation, sometimes we have
to get better collection mechanisms in place. It is a journey, but rarely
are we restricted in producing results. Five years ago this may have been
more difficult, but data exposure is becoming easier and easier. It is a
very exciting time to be in this industry.
Raven Bay provides a range of services; would you tell us about the main
services that you offer and some of the services that people should be
taking advantage of but are not?
Mr. O’Dwyer: Two areas that we see
emerging are Predictive and Social Media analytics area. Perhaps that has to
do with the fact that industry feels overburdened with data collection and
consolidation. Significant gains can be achieved once companies start to
answer the “what ifs” in a predictive fashion. Social media is another area
that industry seems to be ignoring. So to answer your question, I think
predictive and social media analytics for industry are going to be important
topics to focus on in the near future.
How do you reach potential customers?
Mr. O’Dwyer: We have key partners that
help us reach potential customers like SAP and IBM. IBM has been a partner
of ours since day 1 and they have an extensive sales force who are always
there to help us. We also have a number of key partners that focus on data
collection systems like OnTracks. OnTracks is another IBM partner that
specializes in Asset Management. Asset management in oil and gas is
significant because they have to track what asset is where and what it is
doing, whether that be a pump, pipeline or truck. They gather the data and
we report on it.
While we also
have a social media practice, we use social media to reach a broader
audience. We have great stories to tell and our team is very passionate
about what they do, so social media gives us an opportunity to brag about
those successes. I must admit that the bragging part is hard, because by
nature our people are very humble. It is fascinating and exciting.
What is the key to keeping up with new technologies and knowing what might
stick that you would want to incorporate and what may go by the wayside?
Mr. O’Dwyer: Our training budget is
significant. Retention is a significant part of our business as we work
really hard at keeping our business. People are interested in a number of
things when they work in a company. They are interested in the culture,
their salaries, doing cool projects and learning new stuff. That is the
people that work for us. We have an acronym for the kind of people that we
look for. The acronym is SELF, which is people have the ability to “share”,
people that do not have an “ego” that would inhibit them from working with
other people, people that have the capacity to “learn” and people that are
“flexible”. When people have those four qualities, the technology does not
matter so much. They are capable of learning something new. We are all
pretty aware that it is going to change, so if you have this thirst for
knowledge, being able to learn one, two or three new things becomes easier
as you become more mature in the workforce. Technologies come and go; we try
not to talk about the technology too much. We talk about what the actual
answer is and the underlying should not matter if you are producing real
How is business these days?
Mr. O’Dwyer: Business is good. We are
really excited about our markets. We focus on Western Canada, and both
Calgary and Saskatchewan have been very active for us. We are very positive
about the things that are happening as we head toward closing out 2013. The
future is even brighter when we add in our predictive and social media
Why should investors and people in the business community pay attention to
Raven Bay Services? What sets the company apart?
Mr. O’Dwyer: We are a mature analytics
organization with years of experience that we bring to every one of our
engagements. You do not hire a person when you hire Raven Bay, you hire a
team. We care about what we do and we care about our client’s business.
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