I’ve written two previous blog posts about Surface computing here and here but I’d like regular readers to take a look at this quick video, recently posted to the Microsoft Power & Utilities Web site (under videos).

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This is one of the best videos I’ve seen on Surface computing and it demonstrates many of the points we’ve been talking about in our Point of View presentation to our customers. I encourage you to view it before reading the rest of this blog.

First, the technology: while the video demonstrates how Surface computing will dramatically improve operations on the manufacturing plant floor, it will have similar applications for Power & Utilities companies. Our Microsoft application teams and our partners in asset management/fleet performance enhancement are working now to ensure that this technology is adapted to the needs of utility organizations and we will have more announcements on this progress in time.

Second, this video demonstrates our vision for the Integrated Utility. Imagine bringing network computing capabilities to the plant generation floor in a way that it hasn’t been before. As the expected worker shortages affect plant output, a technology solution like this – one that lets you know where your workers are and what they are doing – will make sure you are getting the most from the workforce you do have on the job. Additionally, all the workers are connected to each other, in even more meaningful ways than they are now, and thus more capable of greater production output.

Third, the video notes how various processes and departments are interconnected to provide real-time business intelligence at the business level. Executives aren’t the only ones receiving real-time dashboard information about key performance indicators. Every worker throughout the plant can have some dashboard presented to them as they perform their jobs, even their own!

Fourth, the Surface computing solution recognizes that paper documents still matter on the plant floor. Safety and process checklists are indispensable to daily operations, as are invoices, inventory and other reports. Having the ability to quickly scan those reports and supply the entire organization with their information instantly speeds productivity and better informs everyone involved in every process, from accounting to receiving.

Fifth, Surface computing unshackles the plant worker from the desk top, giving them the flexibility to walk the floor and direct operations. Surface computing accomplishes this by letting workers through computer touch screens and voice recognition capabilities.

Sixth, Surface computing relies on and is empowered by search capabilities. Again, integration coupled with data architecture that enables and optimizes the search function is vital to future computing technology and its application to industrial operations.

Seventh, Surface computing that’s integrated across the enterprise will greatly improve every type of scheduling – work flows, personnel, inventories, resources, everything. And again integrated scheduling plays a role in assisting the Utility with the daily headaches of resource and personnel shortages, peak demand or outages and other reliability disruptions.

I could go on and on of course, but these seven areas are clearly demonstrated in the video and its’ my hope this will serve to inspire, so that you might inquire, “What could we do better, tomorrow?” - J