BUILDING MOBIL'S GLOBAL LUBE
KNOWLEDGE BASE STRATEGY
Mobil was my first job after college. I enjoyed six
wonderful years there learning how big business works and how global
information systems are built. Mobil hired me because I had just gotten
my Master's Degree in Artificial Intelligence and they wanted to start
capturing the knowledge of their top experts. I started their Expert
Systems Department, created training programs for experts and
developers, and developed a Rapid Expert System Development Methodology
based on reusing Object-Oriented Components.
I developed Mobil's Global Expert System Strategy. I
formalized all the processes, procedures, and standards we used in my
own corporate development team so they could be duplicated by affiliate
development teams in other countries. It also meant building reusable
components that could be shared and reused by these other teams. We used
an enterprise Object Oriented Development tool called Platinum AIONDS,
which is now called Computer Associates AION. I helped select that as
Mobil's standard global expert system tool because it ran on mainframes,
minicomputers, and PCs. I became known as an expert in CA AION.
During six years at Mobil Oil, established Mobil's
Global Expert System Strategy, implemented Mobil's global Knowledge
Management Strategy, and was lead programmer of Mobil's first successful
Executive Information System for Int'l Marketing Division executives.
(This experience led to BIZRULES.com's very first engagement, managing
development of Burger
King's RoadRunner EIS.)
Captured knowledge from top experts nearing
retirement. Retained expert knowledge as a corporate asset that
appreciated in value over time.
These Expert Systems helped Mobil share global best
practices for sales & customer service to 200 Mobil Field Sales
Engineers in over 80 countries.
These systems also increased Sales Rep face-to-face
time with customers.
We captured Mobil's top expertise from around the
world, and we programmed it into a suite of expert systems known as the
Mobil Lube Knowledge Base (LKB). The Knowledge Base enabled Mobil to
share best practices, expertise, knowledge, and industry practices from
around the world to anyone else in the world via a laptop and CD-ROM.
These systems recommended the right product to meet the customer's
requirements and the best product for their specific application, and
they also diagnosed problems with the customer's equipment as a Mobil
value added service.
By capturing their knowledge, documenting it, and
programming it into a series of rule-based expert systems, Mobil enabled
many of their Engineers, Auditors, and Sales force to make the same
expert-level decisions and recommendations out in the field as the
experts would have made. These systems helped Mobil increase sales and
profits around the world by enabling even their newest, most
inexperienced staff to operate at an "expert level".
One of the biggest lessons we learned early on was to
not rely on just one expert. For example, the first system I worked on
was called Alfred, and it was named after Mobil's top Rolling Oil expert
from Austria. Alfred was about to retire after 30 years, and I was
called in to interview him and build a system that gave the same
recommendations and advice as Alfred himself. The mistake we made was
naming the system after him and not talking to other experts in other
countries. In turned out that the Steel Rolling Mill industry (for which
Mobil sells lubricants) was quite different in Japan and the Alfred
System didn't handle those differences.
We learned that you need to involve ALL the experts
from all the countries and get them to work together. One of the
unexpected benefits from this was that top Mobil experts from around the
world got an opportunity to work together in person for the first time.
We rotated our expert meetings. I brought Mobil's top experts together
for a few weeks at a time in places such as Paris, London, Tokyo, and
To cut travel costs, I had to use lots of "round
the world tickets" that required a fourth stop somewhere along the
way like Hawaii. I had to do that a few times.
Once I left Tokyo at night on my birthday, and
arrived in Hawaii the next morning on my birthday!
I flew on the Concorde from Washington D.C. to