Microsoft Launches the Chemical Reference Architecture Initiative

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 20, 2011 — Microsoft Corp. today launched the Microsoft Chemical Reference Architecture (ChemRA) Initiative, an effort led by Microsoft to develop, along with its partners that provide solutions to the chemical and oil refining industries, a reference architecture framework that will help address business and technological needs for customers in the industry. ChemRA will benefit customers by allowing them to implement interoperable IT solutions built on a solid, secure and reliable foundation while providing great user experience and business insight as well as allowing for easy collaboration and business processes automation. Microsoft partners currently endorsing and participating in the ChemRA Initiative include Accenture, Aspen Technology Inc., Invensys Operations Management Inc., OSIsoft LLC, PROS Holdings Inc., and Siemens (industrial automation systems, manufacturing execution system). The initiative was kicked off today at the MESA 2011 North America Conference in Orlando, Fla.

“The need for collaboration among chemicals professionals is great, driven by a push for faster innovation and the pressing need for knowledge transfer from retiring workers,” said Ellyn Foltz, managing director, Worldwide Process Manufacturing Industries, Microsoft. “ChemRA provides a response to the business and technology challenges our customers and partners face today. We are helping our customers more effectively interact with and share information to compete and succeed in today’s dynamic global marketplace.”

ChemRA offers an IT-based framework that addresses the business and technical challenges in the chemical industry, such as increased complexity of global supply networks, the pressing need for innovation management that allows for nurturing new ideas, and bringing new products to market fast. ChemRA also addresses the need to capture and share people’s knowledge especially as they approach retirement, and the need to have visibility into the operations in manufacturing, supply chain and research and development. ChemRA also establishes guidance and best practices to leverage existing technologies, while implementing new and future technologies in a way that fits into the operators IT environment.

Development of the chemicals reference architecture will be an ongoing effort led by Microsoft, with close collaboration by participating companies, independent software vendors, systems integrators and customer in-house developers. ChemRA is based on a set of common principles that will meet the technology needs in the chemical and oil refining industries. These principles include natural user experience, application interoperability, enhanced collaboration, business insight and solid IT infrastructure.

Study Shows Need for Reference Architecture

A recent Microsoft and Accenture survey of professionals within global chemical and oil refining companies, also released at the conference, highlights the need for this type of architecture to enable more flexible IT solutions and tighter industry collaboration. Most respondents identified a divide between IT and business. A unanimous 94 percent said that IT is not flexible in handling change, and 81 percent said that IT is not supporting or barely supporting geographic expansion. The survey further showed that many IT environments in the industry lack standardization. Looking to bridge the divide between IT and business, more than half surveyed identified collaboration as the key benefit of cloud computing compared with slightly fewer than half who identified IT cost reduction. The survey was conducted by the Aberdeen Group Inc., a Harte-Hanks company, and polled 127 professionals within global chemical and oil refining companies.

“Our research highlighted one of the main benefits of cloud as enabling better collaboration between global locations,” said Kevin Prouty, research director, Enterprise Applications, Aberdeen. “With all the money poured into collaboration processes and systems in the past, it may be something as simple as cloud computing that will finally drive collaboration into all the operational nooks and crannies of chemical companies.”

“The survey confirms that forward-looking organizations are assessing cloud technology to tackle the challenges they face,” said Koenraad Schelfaut, Accenture’s Advanced Enterprise Solutions lead for Chemicals and Natural Resources. “Accenture and Microsoft are working together to provide the business, technology and implementation expertise to help chemicals organizations leverage the game-changing potential of cloud computing and dormant organizational data to clarify strategic vision, sharpen client focus and accelerate day-to-day decision-making and agility.”

More information about the ChemRA Initiative is available at http://www.microsoft.com/chemra.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 223,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2010. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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