Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the ESS EXPO 09 Conference in San Antonio, Texas. For those of you not familiar with ESS (Environmental Support Solutions) they are (or at least were) a leading provider of Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) and Crisis Management software for compliance and sustainability as well as a Microsoft Gold certified partner.

But what made this event even more interesting was that right before the conference IHS, another Microsoft Gold certified partner, acquired ESS, causing me to immediately wonder whether conference would be cancelled.

The answer was a resounding “Absolutely not,” so off I went to San Antonio!

In addition to speaking on the topic of harnessing regulatory compliance using collaboration and information sharing, IHS acquisition of ESS gave me the opportunity to meet IHS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jerre Stead.

Mr. Stead is no newbie to the role as CEO: he was chairman and CEO of Ingram, Legent, AT&T’s Global Information Solutions (NCR Corporation) as well as chairman, president and CEO of Square D Company. As you can see, Mr. Stead has no shortage of experience in running companies.

Indeed, I was very impressed with Jerre. In addition to his telling some very interesting stories about working with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer over the years, I was very impressed with Jerre’s strategy of creating a company that provides companies worldwide with best-in-class products and services from IHS to meet the growing need to manage environmental, climate change and compliance issues – all from a single provider. The key here is not only providing the software which is ESS’ strength but also supplementing it with critical business information and analysis -- IHS’ core strength.

As with any acquisition, a large part of the success will be IHS’ ability to retain people that helped make ESS successful. Jerre repeatedly said that he believes that people are a company’s only sustainable asset so retaining ESS’ people will surely be a key part to making the combined companies successful in the marketplace.

With carbon legislation heating up all over the globe and the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) right around the corner, I for one believe that IHS will be well positioned to fill the vital needs of the power industry as much of the burden of CO2 reductions has fallen on this industry. There’s no better time to have a partner like IHS – strengthened by the good folks at ESS – ready to help. – Jon C. Arnold