By Robyn Brown

Organizations that participate in strategic alliances can find real value when combining their skills and strengths with those of others. When the alliance is mutually beneficial, each company comes to the table with its piece of the puzzle.

By working together on a common goal, alliance members share knowledge and build consensus that lead to impact at a level greater than just one organization’s efforts. In particular, groups that work collaboratively can gain more resources and recognition when facing competition for limited resources. They can also speed the pace of development of new products and services.

Most collaboration requires leadership – a puzzle solver to bring the puzzle pieces together in the right way. I want to point out one such collaboration that our client Microsoft in Oil & Gas is leading along with 23 of its oil and gas industry partners.  It is called the Microsoft Upstream Reference Architecture Initiative.

The initiative is working to build ongoing industry consensus for a common IT architecture approach in the oil and gas upstream sector.  The group believes that close industry alignment – among IT providers, software vendors, systems integrators and even operators – is required to promote and define the architecture. This will ultimately make digital oilfield technology ubiquitous across upstream organizations and simpler for oil and gas operators to connect with third-party solutions.

Additionally, this community of oil and gas organizations will gather its individual learnings and input to define best practices for upstream IT integration and share this broadly within the industry.

The Microsoft account team at Brooks & Associates supported Microsoft and its partners at the 2010 European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE) annual conference in Barcelona last month. We set up briefings with several industry trade journalists to discuss the value of the industry initiative and the need for IT integration.

Check out some immediate coverage from our meetings: