I always tell people that the favorite part of my job is meeting with customers and partners in their home countries. February was a great month for me: I and several other worldwide managing directors in the Microsoft Industries Group spent a week in Brazil visiting partners and customers while introducing our industry solutions in person.

Why Brazil? Brazil is growing rapidly and its economy has become the world's eighth largest by gross domestic product. They have added over 20 million people to the middle class over the past five years. Plus, they are hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. Wow! clip_image001

But there are challenges for Brazil. Much needs to be done in the way of infrastructure improvements to support their growing population and the upcoming major events. In the days before I arrived, Brazil experienced a major blackout where an estimated 53 million people were affected. Helping customers keep the lights on is a big part of my job.

Of course the good news is that these kinds of problems can be fixed. When we were talking with customers and partners the conversation was almost identical to our conversations in the U.S. or Europe. We are talking about investments in smart grids, smart metering, distribution management systems, geospatial systems as well as plant and fleet automation. Like many, the Brazilian utilities are dealing with the issue of how to move away from having a lot of great technology scattered about the company in silos and move to a capabilities-based environment where they have a set of skills and tools that allows them react to business opportunities with agility. This is precisely the problem that our smart energy reference architecture addresses. Indeed, SERA was a topic of hot conversation around the country.

During our visit we experienced tremendous excitement and pride from the people throughout Brazil. They certainly have a lot to look forward to and we at Microsoft look forward to helping them be more successful for many years to come! - Jon C. Arnold