NI’s offerings for measurement and control reflect a growing move from hardware to software.
Despite the recent economic challenges, Texas-based test and instrument company National Instruments has broken the $1bn annual revenue mark for the first time in its 36-year history, recording new highs for its landmark products LabView, PXI and CompactRIO.The figures are impressive, especially given current market dynamics. 2011 saw record revenue of $1.02bn, up 17 per cent year-on-year, based on US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), while non-GAAP revenue was $1.04bn. Annual GAAP net income was $94m. Revenue for Q4 also hit a new quarterly record at $278m.
The success of the company cannot be truly explained in figures. “In 2011 we stayed true to our long-term vision, improved our capacity to deliver new technologies to our customers and balance our long-term investments with strong annual revenue growth,” said founder, president and chief executive officer, James Truchard. “Despite the slowing global economy, I continue to be optimistic about our ability to stay at the forefront of innovation and drive growth”.
Truchard believes that test and measurement has reached a watershed in moving from rack-and-stack to software-based instrumentation. “This achievement is testament to both our talented employees and our company culture that inspires innovative product development to meet the demanding needs of our customers,” he said. “I am confident that our relentless commitment in building a culture of innovation will lever increased value over time to our customers, suppliers, partners, employees, and shareholders.”
Truchard is keen to point to the innovative culture inbred in NI, as witnessed by awards from the Great Place To Work Institute to branches in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and Mexico. “To have sustained placement on these lists requires a growing business with strong product differentiation and career path opportunity,” he added. “Our solid business plan and long-term focus help us attract and retain top talent.”
But there is only so far that a collaborative company culture, targeted recruitment and a very real investment in people can take a company. Whilst these elements are core to sustainability, it is the ongoing investment in its strategic platforms of LabView, PXI and CompactRIO that provides the bedrock for future success.
At the annual meeting Truchard gave examples of how NI’s graphical system design approach had benefitted its customers. One such example was Elseya – a quick-service restaurant operator in Latin America. Elseya’s challenge was to monitor and manage basic utility services at its restaurants while reducing consumption. Using the flexibility of LabView combined with CompactRIO, the company cut energy consumption by 25 per cent.
“Our opportunity has never been greater to help address challenges in areas such as alternative energy, smart mobile and life sciences,” Truchard said. “World experts have adopted our products because they solve problems that weren’t possible with traditional approaches.”