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|March 9, 1999||
ONGC's software well is drying upGautam Chakravarty in Bombay
ONGC Deputy General Manager (programming) Dr K C Balan complains that a recent exodus of software talent from all regions of the corporation is substantially affecting the smooth functioning of their computer systems and software development programmes.
Besides, an oil and gas company cannot hope to retain good professionals with challenging job assignments because ONGC's core competence cannot be anything but petroleum.
Here, however, the official perception may not entirely agree. Balan points out that the exodus happened in spite of the fact that ONGC, being an oil exploration and production company, had real life data to test and validate any new technology or methodology developed by the in-house expertise.
Balan persists that this is in contrast to the situation in universities or other such institutions that wish to develop software but are unable to test their work on real data.
Balan claims that ONGC's computer hardware acquisition is growing fast but owing to lack of well-defined policies, software talent has been depleting and there has been no attempt to induct fresh personnel.
Balan tries to dissect the problem. His most important observation is that programming talent throughout ONGC has remained unorganised and individual programmers work in isolation, without a peer group.
This is because most disciplines within ONGC, like geosciences, finance and accounting, need the services of software people. Consequently, diverse departments try to absorb programmers exclusively, thereby fragmenting the software community in the corporation.
This leads to isolation of individual programmers, poorer recognition of their contribution and low morale besides loss of a centralised focus to software development.
If the situation continues, Balan warns, it would affect the overall efficiency of the organisation and create substantial delay in routine decision making processes.
"Our large-scale data acquisition, processing and interpretation, reservoir modelling and basin modelling are highly software oriented and this requires immediate attention of the ONGC management," he pleads.
Balan insists that ONGC should start inducting software personnel or "Our inventories on computing facilities will be unutilised, under-utilised and inefficiently managed. There is also a growing need in every work centre to put all software personnel together under one knowledgeable monitoring agency so that there will be efficient distribution of work assignments and project evaluation."
In this context, Balan says that a centre for software development and marketing should be formed immediately in ONGC for identifying appropriate needs for the system at the time of acquisition itself.
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