Ballmer and Gates defend Microsoft outlook.

 
 

Anyone who has seen Microsoft’s seamless, touch-based Vision of the Future was likely still reeling with enough stars in his or her eyes to unquestioningly soak up the optimism CEO Steve Ballmer expressed at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday. The shareholders themselves, it seems, felt more concern than optimism. After Ballmer delivered a glowing report of the company’s synergistic growth from the cloud to mobile devices, many stockholders vocally worried about the company’s capital allocations and stagnant stock price.

One of Microsoft’s key technological advances, according to Ballmer, has been 45 percent growth in its entertainment and device division, with almost $9 billion in resulting revenues. The Xbox is becoming an entertainment hub for families, he explained, sharing anecdotes from his own life and remembering a time when people thought Microsoft was foolish for pursuing a foothold in the gaming industry. That foothold has turned into near global domination, with the Xbox console leading the U.S. market and poised to lead the international market in the near future, he said.

Xbox’s game-changing Kinect system, said Ballmer, was the result of collaboration across many divisions of Microsoft; he responded to a shareholder question about splitting the company to increase its value by saying that Microsoft does not invest in things that are “idly independent.”

Ballmer also discussed Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Skype and its partnership with Facebook, perhaps in an effort to assuage shareholders questioning the company’s large cash balance on hand. According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has $57.4 billion in cash on its books. The catch with paying out that cash to shareholders is that 89 percent of the money is invested abroad, and subject to taxes if repatriated.

After a few questions on capital allocations, the normally silent Bill Gates put the lid on the discussion by explaining that the most important thing to be done in increasing Microsoft’s stock value is to focus on profit stream and building new products of high value. The choices in paying out those profits are less important than maintaining the company’s ability to take big risks by beefing up its balance sheet, he explained.

The shareholder meeting was held the day after Warren Buffett announced a $10.7 billion investment in shares of IBM (giving him a 5.4 percent stake), citing the company’s ability to execute its strategy and its fair treatment of stockholders as motivating factors in the deal. IBM stock has risen 28 percent in 2011, and this investment is Buffett’s first foray into technology. Microsoft stock, trading at just under $27 a share, has remained relatively stagnant over the last several months.

Sponsored

Smart Glasses Improving Workflow for HVAC Projects

Smart Glasses Improving Workflow for HVAC Projects

Wearable technology increases productivity for HVAC technicians
 
 

Sponsored by MacDonald-Miller

XOEye technologies created a smart glasses tool, built specifically for field technicians to capture real-time documentation. When MacDonald-Miller heard about the new wearable technology platform, they saw it as an opportunity to be the first mechanical contractor in the Pacific Northwest to implement these smart glasses into their services.

We interviewed MacDonald-Miller’s Chief Information Officer, Bradd Busick, to hear first-hand how this new technology will be integrated into services and how it will streamline HVAC projects.

What are the capabilities of the smart glasses? 

The smart glasses, MacLens, capture and stream high fidelity audio and visual content, enabling first-person point-of-view (POV). MacLens includes a camera, earpiece, and microphone — all built into a single headset, capturing real-time documentation of equipment, work performed, and recommendations being made. 

How does it work for technicians?

Once service techs arrive onsite, they put their MacLens glasses on to create an intro video communicating where they are, a brief diagnosis or repair identification, and a summary recap for the customer. After the site visit is complete, the tech then uploads the content to the call summary report on the customer portal, where customers can access it at their convenience.

What is the benefit for the end-user?

Building owners and property managers have to trust their maintenance provider is actually doing the work they claim. Most building owners will never see the work being done on their properties, but they will receive a list of recommendations for changes and a bill. It’s a relationship built on trust. MacLens adds a level of transparency and customer experience where we are able to show in real-time what is happening on roofs and in mechanical rooms. MacLens embeds audio and video content into each summary report, providing customers with the peace of mind that comes with unbridled transparency.

What is the vision behind this technology roll-out?

The goal is to enhance the customer connection to the services provided and also enable technicians to connect with each other. There are incredible operational efficiencies that enable mobility and collaboration through telepresence and increased accountability.

How will they affect the next wave of HVAC technicians?

Not only will MacLens increase workflow productivity, but it also offers training opportunities and safety benefits without adding any additional work to service technicians. This is a major educational advantage. Now expert journeyman can train apprentices simply by walking through their daily tasks, recording those sessions and sharing them in our learning management system — it’s the next evolution of training!

See MacLens in action here.

MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions is a full-service, design-build, mechanical contractor in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about MacDonald-Miller’s recent projects.