Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussed the changing role of technology in the energy industry and IT's role in energy conservation to more than 1,000 global industry leaders at CERAWeek in Houston. With energy demand expected to increase at least 40 percent by 2035, Ballmer offered his thoughts on how new technologies, such as cloud computing and natural user interface-based solutions, can help the industry stay on pace with growth and demands, manage an influx of data and speed insight to finding affordable energy solutions.

Today, we're seeing the impact of cloud computing and intelligent devices starting in the home and flowing into the business environment - driven by the consumerization of IT.  CERAWeek audience members got to see a real-time demo of Kinect for Xbox 360 - a sensor that understands a person's movements, gestures and speech for a completely immersive experience. Ballmer also spoke about the power of cloud computing to provide a seamless and connected experience across devices - the PC, TV, smartphones, e-readers and even the car - with anytime access to information.  

Together with our industry partners including Alstom, AspenTech, OSIsoft, Baker Hughes and Hewlett Packard, we are focused on bringing these advancements to oil & gas and utilities companies - improving real-time communication and collaboration, enabling massive data aggregation, providing secure access to information and empowering workers with business intelligence on smart devices.

What do these advancements in cloud computing, social networking and even gaming mean for energy companies and why should the industry care?

Ballmer notes the following as key themes for energy businesses to implement next generation technologies for interaction through cloud solutions:

  • Communication and collaboration - Manipulate complex models and use the results in real time to perform actions in a remote location.
  • Management of Data - Visualize and understand the data that helps you make smart, safe decisions.
  • Security - Access information from a variety of computing devices, wherever you happen to be, to visualize and understand the data that helps you make smart, safe decisions.
  • State of the workforce - Capture the intellectual capital and insights of experienced engineers to share their knowledge with a new generation of employees via the tools that they understand.

Overall, everyone is now connected virtually, working off the same data and providing secure collaboration and data integration and communication for the service and repair of a part in far-flung locations.

You can view a transcript of his remarks and watch the video of the keynote on the Microsoft News Center