Ballmer meets and greets his way across the country

Holds talks with the Prime Minister

It was only a whirlwind stopover to Australian shores, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, still managed to find time to meet the Prime Minister John Howard as well as Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd.

This is in addition to a long list of meet and greets with ministers, shadow ministers, state and federal CIOs and executives from Australia's leading banks.

Ballmer managed to do this in between signing a security agreement with the Department of Defence and meeting local Microsoft employees.

His final hours in the country were spent addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney this afternoon.

During his address to more than 400 executives, Ballmer called on the Australian business community to embrace innovation as a core competitive weapon in today's global economy.

Shifting his focus from national defence to economic growth, Ballmer urged Australians to work together to allow greater access to, and education in, information and communications technologies (ICT) and services.

By doing this, he said business will reap the benefits of new ideas and processes that can add significantly to a company's bottom line.

Ballmer stressed how ICT has brought significant changes in the way people go about their daily lives and become a powerful factor in business.

"Today the right technology can enable businesses to unleash the full creativity and productivity of their most important asset: their people," he said.

"Technology that is powerful, integrated and easy to use - these are the keys to making a business truly people ready. Governments and business leaders that embrace technology and innovation will be far more competitive in today's global marketplace."

Ballmer said there will be great changes in the next 10 years, particularly from the free flow of media content delivered over IP networks and the next generations of phones and ultra mobile devices.

"We see exciting opportunities to deliver incredible value to our customers, enabling them to stay connected through their PCs, mobile phones, interactive TVs, entertainment devices and online Web-based services," he said.

Ballmer also discussed the growing need for ICT literacy and access, which can lead to stronger social cohesion and development, and allow individuals to maximize their creative potential.

"When we talk about our mission as a company, we talk about helping people and businesses throughout the world realise their potential," Ballmer said.

"Opportunities abound for technology to drive positive social and economic change. As leaders and concerned citizens, we in the ICT industry must strive to help everyone participate fully in the information economy."

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