Having problems managing your exploration data? You’re not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Geosoft, four out of five respondents identified data management as a critical or top five priority. The survey polled managers of companies and government organizations who gathered data for mineral exploration but didn’t use Geosoft solutions to manage it. You can download the survey from our website.
The aggravation had multiple causes, from reformatting headaches to trouble accessing data from other exploration sites. But ineffective search tools and a heavy dependency on knowledge experts were the two most common challenges cited by the 35 global executives (56%), geoscientists (25%) and IT or GIS experts (19%) who responded to our survey.
It’s not as though explorers don’t see the value of making their data more useful and accessible. More than half acknowledged that they would increase their reporting transparency and visibility to investors and 21% expected cost savings.
So what are the barriers to improvement? Almost half of the respondents said the cost of maintaining a data management system is the biggest deterrent. But making sure there is someone to manage the system appears to be just as significant: 27% said they lacked the expertise to operate the system, while 21% were concerned about the availability of a data manager.
Potential solutions fell into two main camps: acquiring a single commercially available platform and building an in-house system. Not one respondent said they would consider outsourcing their geoscientific information, even though outsourced services are available, and this practice has been used in other industries such as oil and gas for years.
We made some interesting observations as a result of the survey. The most significant is that centralized data management appears to be an emerging trend. Another key finding is that although a majority of geoscientists spend more than 30% of their time looking for, accessing, cleaning or preparing their data, half of the respondents weren’t concerned about this major time drain. The volume and quality of data was not highlighted as a big issue, but data duplication was: 42% didn’t feel confident their company had a good handle on it.
Our survey author, Steve Randall, sums up why explorers find data management so challenging. “Like most of us, they are focused on the short term, managing the project they are currently working on,” he says. “But as soon as the project slips back in the priority and then needs to be picked back up or if there are multiple users, the complexity increases and the effort to try and access the required data as quickly as possible becomes an ever increasing challenge.”