Thursday AM February 19th, 2009

Microsoft has released a survey looking at the energy industry’s use of collaboration technology. Ed Mayberry attended the Microsoft’s sixth annual Global Energy Forum.

Microsoft’s Craig Hodges says 270 industry professionals were quizzed about the impact of social networking tools, and how they can help business work more efficiently.

“We’re talking tools like instant messaging, videoconferencing, wikis and blogs, if people know what those are.  It’s these kinds of tools, and most oil companies have some of these deployed in different ways, but we believe there’s a much stronger value proposition for more agressive deployment of these things.  More than half the people who responded said if they had use of all these tools in a suite, they could increase their productivity significantly, in their searching and finding information and expertise.”

Donald Paul opened the forum with an overview of the energy industry in more troubled economic times.

“The long trends are the global demand’s gonna rise, pressure on oil supplies is going to continue, prices will recover to a more normal range.  And technology’s always going to be critical in, in the business.  So, do what you need to do today, keep an eye on what, putting in place the things you’re going to need, when the system recovers again.”

Accenture partnered with Microsoft on this survey.  Accenture’s Claire Markwardt says many of those so-call “social networking” tools have been around for a while, and the challenge is…

“Getting business people to talk about their use and examples of how they bring, you know, greater efficiency or diminising the risk of security–I mean, this business is all about risk management.  How you can get people from multiple place from around the globe to collaborate seamlessly and almost instantaneously is just key and vital on, in a down economy as well as an up economy.”

Dan Ranta with ConocoPhillips says about 40 per cent of energy professionals view social media technologies as important to growing and sharing ideas.

“If you put it into a more fluid format, like I’m going to use a wiki for example, then what you can do is you provide users with the ability to re-access that, like I said, re-use that knowledge, but also go back and add to it.”

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.