Last week I attended and spoke at the IHS Spectrum Conference in Austin, Texas. For those that are not familiar with IHS, they serve international clients in four major areas: energy, product lifecycle, environment, and security. The IHS Spectrum event is focused on their Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) & Sustainability business where they are helping companies with their enterprise software solutions, data and expertise.IHS panel

The theme of this year’s conference was enterprise sustainability management (ESM). IHS’s view is that EHS Compliance (where compliance = meeting standards, policies, regulations and specifications) is the foundational data needed to transformed to enable an enterprise approach to sustainability management. IHS breaks down ESM into six components:

• Environmental Compliance

• Health and Safety Performance

• Product Stewardship

• Energy and Green House Gas Emissions

• Operational Risk Management

• Corporate Responsibility

To make ESM a reality, IHS has been acquiring companies to build an enterprise suite of solutions. Many of these acquired companies built their solutions using Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint and SQL Server. Good examples include IHS Essential Suite®, IMPACT ERM®, opsInfo™ and Product Compliance™ software.

One of the most interesting conference sessions was about the IHS solution roadmap and the vision for the future. Jeff Ladner (Senior Director, EHS & Sustainability Products) talked about how IHS is creating a system of record with their acquired, best of breed solutions. Jeff described how they are using an enterprise architecture to create a common set of services that provides off-the-shelf integration between current products and allows for the integration of new products from future acquisitions. Jeff and other IHS executives stressed their strategy of protecting customers existing investments but providing a loosely coupled system of common services that allows information from multiple products to be surfaced through a common portal.

Unlike some vendors that force you into a templated best practice that they define, IHS will allow you to expose the information you want to see, with business processes that you define and with automation between the products. I believe this strategy provides tremendous value to customers as they get to keep the best of what they have now but have the ability to leverage the IHS solutions into an ESM strategy that supports not only their business requirements but the way they work.

As part of our partnership, we are working with IHS to help them leverage the right technologies, the right architectures (e.g., smart energy reference architecture (SERA)) and how devices such as the Windows Phone 7 and our cloud environment can help achieve this vision.

Another highlight of the conference was the real world customer presentations. From Utilities we saw terrific presentations from PSEG, DTE and Duke Energy all using IHS solutions based on Microsoft products and technologies. Duke won the “Best of the Best” award for implementing a company-wide system called e-TRAC (Electronic-Toolkit for Regulatory Assurance and Compliance).

It was a great conference and we at Microsoft are very excited to be partnering with IHS and help make their vision of enterprise sustainability management a reality! – Jon C. Arnold