Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
2/24/2009
09:15 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Microsoft Offers Rare Look At Its Global Oil-Industry Plan

Who knew Microsoft is pushing oil field-exploration and related energy initiatives in more than 70 countries? That it's helping Chevron deploy SOA and BI projects in the North Sea to extract more oil? And that Microsoft calls energy security the "über-challenge"? Here's a unique look inside this little-known side of Microsoft via video, text, and -- of course -- PowerPoint.

Who knew Microsoft is pushing oil field-exploration and related energy initiatives in more than 70 countries? That it's helping Chevron deploy SOA and BI projects in the North Sea to extract more oil? And that Microsoft calls energy security the "über-challenge"? Here's a unique look inside this little-known side of Microsoft via video, text, and -- of course -- PowerPoint.Microsoft's oil and gas initiatives offer significant clues about how the company will look to expand its enterprise-apps business in other vertical markets, particularly with regard to its desire to help aggregate collaborative sets of partners into clusters that Microsoft is calling "emerging performance networks." That term is surely evocative of SAP's "business network" model.

In a presentation at an oil-industry event last week in Houston, Microsoft's managing director of the oil and gas unit, Albrecht Ferling, said these "emerging performance networks" -- made up of Microsoft and a range of technology partners -- will be based "in the cloud" and will trigger a much higher level of integration among energy companies and their wide range of service providers.

Calling Microsoft's new approach "digital intensity," Ferling said Chevron had a serious issue with its North Sea oil field, which was operating far below peak efficiency because the company could not generate and organize enough relevant information about the oil field's operations. "With two partners, we developed a blend of SOA and business intelligence that allowed Chevron to make better decisions, to have a smoother time dealing with regulatory issues, and to increase production," Ferling said in a video interview at the Houston industry event.

Ferling also channeled the "do more with less" theme in the video interview, noting that in the four months that he's been with Microsoft, he's learned that Microsoft approaches the challenges in the oil and gas industry by asking, "How can we equip people in the field with familiar applications -- what we call "robust productivity" -- so that they can begin doing more with less?"

The six-minute video interview offers an intriguing insight into how Microsoft is looking to tie itself intimately into this globally strategic industry and its inner-most operations, and the PowerPoint presentation Ferling gave at the Houston event reveals more details about how the company expects to capitalize on its partnerships in the form of "emerging performance networks."

It will be interesting to track whether that idea catches on as a strategic advantage for Microsoft in this and other vertical markets, or if it gets dumped on the ash heap of irrelevant three-letter acronyms.

Finally, for some text-based global perspectives of Microsoft's oil and gas business -- including its recent relocation of Ferling and the entire management team to Dubai -- here are recent articles from Zawya.com and Arabian Business.

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