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Wood Mackenzie | Creating a scalable foundation for energy and natural resources intelligence

Wood Mackenzie

Creating a scalable foundation for energy and natural resources intelligence

With an almost 100-year history, Wood Mackenzie is one of the world’s longest-running and best-known providers of data, research, and consulting services in the energy and natural resources sector.

 

For decades, the company has provided companies and investors with the intelligence and insights they need to make informed acquisition, divestment, and trade decisions in the fast-moving natural resources industry.

 

Today, that industry is going through a period of fundamental transformation. As market forces shift, major players are expanding their investments in renewables, and building more complex and diverse energy and natural resource asset portfolios than ever before.

 

In order to continue to provide customers with the most valuable data and insights, Wood Mackenzie has been going through a major digital transformation programme to keep it at the forefront of the industry it serves.

 

Laying a foundation for digital product success

 

Wood Mackenzie outlined four main goals for its digital transformation. It wanted to:

 

  • Bring its diverse digital products and services together under a unified customer experience and modern digital platform (Wood Mackenzie Lens®) 
 
  • Accelerate new product delivery and improve responsiveness to customer demands and industry shifts with a lean, agile, value-focused delivery culture
 
  • Improve scalability and ensure ability to handle the immense volumes of data being created across traditional energy and new renewable domains
 
  • Create a standardized foundation for all data and services to further enhance consistency and quality across data sets

 

Achieving all of those goals demanded specialist transformation support and digital platform expertise. So, they engaged Thoughtworks to help.

 

Together, we began building on Wood Mackenzie’s prior efforts for a flexible, platform-based product delivery approach, while enabling their teams to independently develop and release products in a more flexible manner. This ensured that the company could make frequent changes to multiple products simultaneously, as often as required, while still offering them through their single, consistent platform foundation – named the Lens platform – without bottlenecks.

 

By bringing its data together through Lens, the Wood Mackenzie team would also be able to more easily combine data sets in new ways, enabling customers and internal analysts to ask new questions, and significantly accelerate new product development.

 

Transforming unconventional valuation

 

In its earliest stages, the Lens platform focused on products for the oil and gas industry. Within this scope, the Thoughtworks team was initially engaged to assist with the creation of a flagship new Lens product, for valuing unconventional oil & gas production assets (known as ‘Unconventional Valuations’).

 

The Unconventional Valuations product calculates the financial value—both net present values and cash flow—of oil and gas assets in the mainland states of the USA. This enables investors and companies to view assets by geographical location or owner, making it invaluable to those interested in selling, acquiring, or trading oil and gas assets in that geography.

 

Wood Mackenzie had previously run into difficulties developing this as a new platform-ready product, so success was critical. With competitors already offering digital alternatives in the Unconventional Valuations market, rapid development and deployment were key to gaining market share, while ensuring wider customer subscriptions to Wood Mackenzie services and safeguarding Wood Mackenzie’s reputation for excellence.

 

The Thoughtworks team delivered the first working software to production in just four weeks, and had an initial MVP ready for internal usage, product testing and customer feedback in just three months—helping Wood Mackenzie get to market quickly, and make up for lost time.

 

Thoughtworks were the stand-out choice to partner with us in developing our flagship Lens platform while supporting our next-level digital transformation. Our shared core values around Lean, Customer-Value, and Agile Software Development enabled us to quickly establish an effective working style that led to rapid and iterative development of our L48 Lens solution. Today, the Thoughtworks partnership continues to drive innovation in our products and working practices that ultimately provide greater value to our customers.
Phil Boyle
Vice President of Product Operations, Wood Mackenzie

Supporting a new approach while embedding new ways of working

 

The successful development of the Unconventional Valuations product was very valuable to the Wood Mackenzie team, supporting growth in customer subscriptions in an exceptionally challenging Covid-19 year. But, the project also helped the team evolve their practices and architecture to benefit the Lens platform as a whole.

 

During the initial trial process for the new product, 12 external clients signed up as development partners—providing vital input that would shape the product and help guide development of future Lens platform products.

 

Even more importantly, the project led Wood Mackenzie to embrace Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery approaches, after identifying this as a hurdle issue early on during development. The interconnected nature of the platform meant multiple teams needed to coordinate closely for any release. An issue in one product could hold up the entire platform, slowing down releases by up to four weeks. 

 

The team quickly identified this as something that could threaten the speed and flexibility of the Lens platform. Now, Wood Mackenzie’s Continuous Delivery approach ensures that all delivery teams can now deploy independently of each other, enabling faster product deployments multiple times a day at a lower cost across the Lens platform.

 

Replicating success across products and domains

 

Following the success of the Unconventional Valuations project, Thoughtworks and Wood Mackenzie have embarked on more projects together within and surrounding the Lens platform, including:

 

  • The creation of a common API gateway for all APIs across the Lens platform to simplify and improve monitoring, performance, and security
 
  • Improving data discovery across complex data sets and ensuring consistency of valuations and insights generated from the vast volumes of data managed by Wood Mackenzie
 
  • An ambitious project which will enable customers and Wood Mackenzie analysts to save, share, update, and collaborate on valuations and insights created within the Lens platform

 

Currently, one important focus area is enhancing its global Asset Valuation product—which allows users to find, investigate and ultimately calculate a value for any oil and gas asset globally—by bringing in energy transition and renewables data and further developing a portfolio analysis tool within Lens. Thoughtworks is working closely alongside Wood Mackenzie’s own teams to create the foundational capabilities needed to support this major extension to Lens.   

 

Much like the Unconventional Valuations product, these calculations can be done at a single asset level, across selected geographical areas, by company ownership, or any combination of those criteria. This product, however, will support calculations at an even greater scale.

 

Enabling a faster, more scalable, and more satisfying future for Wood Mackenzie and its customers

 

Together, Wood Mackenzie and Thoughtworks have laid the technological and cultural foundation for a smarter, more scalable future for Wood Mackenzie, its analysts, and the customers it serves.

 

Today, Wood Mackenzie largely operates on a serverless infrastructure, delivering and managing all of its new products from within highly scalable and future-ready AWS environments. 

 

For the company’s teams and analysts, the platform is making it faster and simpler to examine huge data sets, extract valuable insights, and ask and model complex questions about the changing energy and natural resources industry. 

 

For the delivery teams and developers working behind the scenes, this flexible foundation is helping them reduce risk, resolve errors and issues faster, and create truly innovative solutions that will help the company stay ahead of market changes.

 

Wood Mackenzie and Thoughtworks continue to work together closely - bringing new products and capabilities to life, and helping the Lens platform deliver exactly what today’s energy and natural resources decision-makers demand.

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