Some managers might enjoy taking a tough approach with their team, but for Nuverra Environmental Solutions Chief Information Officer Greg Tipton, that’s just not his style. “I’m really laid back,” he says. “My team does a great job of knowing what needs to get done. I just provide direction, and they take it from there.”
Indeed, trust is a major theme in Tipton’s professional life at Nuverra. With the leadership team’s support, Tipton has taken several steps, including the incorporation of blockchain technology, to ensure the company is as transparent as possible with customers.
Tipton joined Nuverra in December 2013 after twenty-three years at Motorola. He was recruited by Larry Strohmaier, an old friend and former Motorola colleague who was Nuverra’s CIO at the time. Nuverra was in need of major technology solutions, as the company had email delivery issues and needed an electronic ticketing solution, just to name two challenges. Strohmaier also promised his Chicago-based friend something else at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company: a warmer climate.
Tipton notes that shifting from a process-oriented company such as Motorola to the oil field services industry was a bit like entering the Wild West, but he was equipped with deep knowledge and best practices.
“I ended up reverting back to some fundamental ideas that were taught at Motorola such as change management, ticketing, access approval, system monitoring, uptime availability, creating standards, and virtualizing servers,” he says. “Things that are second nature to me coming from Motorola are things that this industry didn’t necessarily grasp.”
Fortunately, Tipton had the full support of the Nuverra leadership team, which was eager to take steps that would differentiate the company from industry competition. Tipton led the charge in converting a paper-dependent company into a digitally savvy one with improved processes, reduced payment cycle times, and other improvements.
Additionally, Tipton helped lead the incorporation of LiquidFrameworks’ FieldFX, a Salesforce application that digitized Nuverra’s paper process and further strengthened the company’s position in the marketplace.
“We chose FieldFX because it sat on the Salesforce platform and it removed much of the paper out of our process,” he says. The implementation took about eighteen months and gave Nuverra the ability to share data with its customers. “Being able to do this gives us a huge advantage. Some of our competition has already done this, but many of the smaller companies have not. Because they haven’t moved to a paperless process, they have to throw people at what their customers are asking them to do. We can just build an integration and pass data back and forth without adding headcount.”
LiquidFrameworks’ Travis Parigi notes the great partnership the company has had with Nuverra and Tipton. “Greg has been tremendously proactive about embracing technology in an industry that can be archaic in its processes,” says Parigi, CEO and founder of LiquidFrameworks. “He is unquestionably a technology leader.”
In addition to providing electronic ticketing solutions, Tipton is especially proud of his role in helping Nuverra embrace blockchain technology, which he says reduces cycle time for invoicing and allows Nuverra’s data to be automatically validated using customer data for improved invoicing cycle time.
“When these oil fields are discovered, there’s a lot of money involved,” Tipton says. “There’s a lot of money being spent, and some companies (including haulers) take advantage of the situation. Since we are considered a hauling company, our data is scrutinized, which creates delays in our invoicing process.
“Many haulers, including Nuverra, are paid on commission, so depending on how many barrels the driver pulls from the tanks, the driver will be paid [a different amount],” he continues. “This creates a possibility that an unethical competitor could pad their numbers. But by using technology, we are able to validate our numbers and build trust with our customers by being transparent with our data.”
As a lifelong lover of technology, Tipton strongly believes in utilizing technology to the best advantage. He fondly recalls playing text-based games on the Osborne computer his father brought home in the early 1980s, and admits that he’s been one of those people standing in line outside of his local Apple store.
“I’m always looking at new ways to do things easier and better,” he says. “You have to embrace technology to take advantage of it. There are a lot of folks who believe in having hardware on-site and having a physical phone line to your desk, but things like that make it tough to manage IT on reduced budgets. The second you start virtualizing servers and moving folks to a new infrastructure, it makes things much easier and allows you to run things smoother, especially from a resource standpoint.”
He also remains grateful for the backing of the Nuverra leadership team.
“My management team embraces change, even though a lot of the drivers and folks that are working at the yard level don’t necessarily like change,” he says. “They support what I’m doing, which is really nice. The technology is amazing, and the oil field definitely needs the technology in place to do what our customers are asking us to do.”