Hexagon CEO expounds on company direction
‘It’s all about actionable information. Action without informed decision-making is not very good.’
by Sam Pfeifle
June 08, 2011
ORLANDO – Hexagon CEO Ola Rollen took the opportunity of his
company’s annual user conference to meet with reporters and analysts over a
semi-casual lunch and answer wide-ranging questions about the company’s
direction. The verdict: Rollen has a vision for Hexagon that combines hardware
and software to provide “actionable information” by building on its current
suite of technologies.
By way of example, Rollen offered, “It’s fairly essential if
you’re drilling a hole through the Alps, and someone is drilling a hole from
the other side, that you meet in the middle.” The role of Hexagon’s Leica
Geosystems and the rest of the company’s many brands is to help customers make
sure that tunnel meets in the middle.
“Action without informed decision-making,” Rollen said, “is
not very good.”
Does he agree, then, he was asked, with companies like FARO
that the market for 3D laser scanning can be significantly broadened?
“I won’t comment on competitors’ actions,” he said, “because
I think that’s rather low,” but he did say that he would be wary of competing
in the German market, for example, without very accurate laser scanners.
Is price important in driving the scanning market? “It’s
accessibility, so yes,” Rollen said, “the further you reduce the cost, the more
benefit to the industry.” However, he said, “the misconception is that the cost
comes in the form of the hardware. It doesn’t’. It’s in the software and the
processing side of things. That’s where the cost is.”
Further, he said, “Leica is the Mercedes Benz, the BMW, in
geomatics,” and it’s unrealistic to think one would enter the market with
Leica. Rather, going by Hexagon’s “good, better, best” view of the market, it
might make more sense for companies to enter geomatics with something like
Hexagon’s GeoMax positioning brand.
Companies should “aspire to Leica,” he said.
“We need to be top-notch in the best,” Rollen said by way of
explanation, “and then we have to have something that can compete in the
low-end market … We haven’t been great at that.”
This approach will also help Hexagon tackle emerging
markets, which Rollen believes are growing at roughly double the rate of mature
markets in today’s economy. “It’s been a fairly favorable recovery in the US
and Europe up till now,” he said, “but it’s getting tougher to get growth
there.” He likened the economy in mature markets to an inflatable ball in a
pool: If you drag it to the bottom, it will pop quickly back to the top, but
then it will stay steady at the surface.
Investing in emerging markets, he said, where growth is more
easily attainable, is the only way Hexagon can go from a 2.2 billion Euro
company to a 3.5 billion Euro company in the next four years, as is his goal. He
intends to move the company’s EBIT from 20 percent to 25 percent, as well.