Houston Business Journal: Microsoft CEO’s Message Resonates with Houston Companies

By Molly Ryan | Houston Business Journal

As rain trickled down outside Houston’s Toyota Center Monday morning, thousands of technology enthusiasts from across the world scuttled inside the sports venue to see a special kind of performance.

The blue lights were dimmed inside the stadium, creating a haze-like effect except for a large square of light in the center of the arena. This epicenter of light is where Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corp. (NYSE: MSFT), addressed the crowd at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference and discussed four major trends the company is focused on: cloud, big data, enterprise social and mobility.

One of the main reasons why Ballmer is visiting Houston is to discuss these four themes with Microsoft partners from around the world. Microsoft not only wants to improve sales with its partners and give them a better understanding of their products, but it also wants to help companies improve and integrate their innovations with Microsoft platforms.
Tim Girgenti, chief marketing officer of Pros Holdings Inc. (NYSE: PRO) spoke to me after Ballmer’s speech on the four topics and said many of Ballmer’s points were reflective of the state of technology today.

Throughout his speech, Ballmer discussed integrating both private and public information to benefit enterprises. This included using public and private data, using social networks in private spaces and also integrating public and private clouds.

Concerning data, Ballmer used the example of companies integrating public weather data with their own sales cycles to better understand trends — e.g., a raincoat factory will sell more raincoats during a rainy season.

This integration of big data is essential to companies like Pros, Girgenti said.

“We put the data to work,” he explained. “For example, in the energy industry, weather is good for forecasting demand.”

Ballmer said he believed the technology industry is in the early stages of being able to exploit big data, therefore new tools to mine and get insight from it “are essential,” he said.

And companies like Pros are waiting in the wings to swoop in and do this on Microsoft platforms. In fact, the company is already rapidly expanding its business, and Girgenti said it is continually strengthening its partnership with Microsoft — working on new developments together to best serve business clients.


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