Find the Fresh Powder: A Case for the Vertical Fingerprint

June 1st, 2009 by

By Pat Hinds

I was having lunch with a friend of mine recently and we were discussing a technology company that he is working for; this company has built a web-based software that allows users to access oil and gas well and land data at high speeds over the internet. The company that my friend is working for does not own the well and land data like many of its competitors; they have focused on building a high performance web-based application that allows customers to access the data faster and from any location that has access to the internet. The company has many competitors that have been in the industry for a long time that supply the land and well data, as well as the software that allows customers to view the data in detail. The limitation of the incumbent competitors is the viewing software is older technology that is client server-based and allows access to the data to only a few people within an oil and gas company.

As my friend was explaining the challenges of getting oil and gas companies to subscribe to his service, I found myself thinking about my last year’s ski season at Fernie. The snow this year was not particularly good; as a result, when the fresh snow arrived it brought lots of skiers to the hill. I love to ski fresh powder and when the hill has lots of skiers it forces me to the edges of the mountain in areas that are tough for your average skier to access, allowing me to find the fresh powder I love so much. As I listened to my friend, I was making the analogy between my desire to ski fresh powder and his challenges in finding a market in oil and gas companies that will adopt his technology. Providing well and land data is a mature and competitive market; if his company wants to enter the market and succeed they need to get to the edge of the companies to find the user group that requires high performance web access to land and well data.

I suggested to my friend that he consider building a “vertical finger print table” that is very much like a map of the ski hill; it documents how a company uses the well and land data, what users require the data, and why they require the data. A vertical finger print table starts with the middle columns documenting the information on the primary users and moves right and left adding columns for additional users of the land and well data. The rows of the vertical finger print table describe the application of the well and land data. When the table is complete the middle of the table represents the “conventional” use for the land and well data and as you move away from the center of the table the applications become more “non-conventional.” Once you have completed the vertical finger print table you need to determine if your competitive value proposition meets the requirement of the non-conventional users; in the case of my friend’s application you are looking for a user group who requires the flexibility of high performance web-based access to the land and well data.

Every company has fresh powder; to find the powder you need to know the terrain and be willing to work for the opportunity.

Topics: Business Intelligence