I don't think I've ever been asked that questions so many times in one day. Along with, "will the merger work?" The short answer is that it's for the clients of Hexagon to decide, not me. For the record, I stated last year that I thought this merger offered great synergy and was a bow shout at Esri. My thinking is slightly different today.
To think about Hexagon's acquisition of first ERDAS then Intergraph as only a geospatial play or only a remote sensing play or only a geopositioning play (Leica Geosystems) or for that matter a metrology (Hexagon Metrology) play would be narrow minded. This is why Ola Rollen, CEO, suggested as much during his press conference at this conference in 2010. While the addition of all of these software and hardware products have appealing synergies and integration possibilities, the company strategy is way beyond simple compound addition. It's also simplistic to think of this as an "enterprise IT" play. Again, it wouldn't tell the whole story.
Rollen positioned the combination of solution expertise as having the ability to solve project lifecycle management problems, from design through construction and all the way to post-construction maintenance. If this has a familiar ring I think that's because it sounds more like that of an Autodesk or a Bentley Systems strategy rather than Esri. Perhaps therein lies the possibility of a Hexagon juggernaut because it has all those "arrows in its quiver." But I perceive that Rollen and his management team care less about the competition and more about seeking the best infrastructure workflows that make the most sense in industries from plant design to public safety.
Listen to the language used in the keynote presentations by the Hexagon management team:
"Provide new technology to improve productivity by 40% in our agriculture business" - Rollen
"We must digitally preserve and share our history" - Jürgon Dold, Hexagon Geosystems (Leica)
" Design-build -operate … Best of class solutions in technology" - Gerhard Salinger (Hexagon, Process, Power and Marine (PPM)
"The future needs innovation" - John Graham, Intergraph SG&I
Other things mentioned were the challenges of "unsustainable growth," "demographic changes" and the use of "renewable resources." To be frank, I thought for a moment that I was indeed early to the Esri UC as these messages are more commonly heard in that forum.
I though it was odd, too, that cloud computing was not mentioned as a strategy in any of the keynote presentations by the division presidents. As I thought about it, it makes sense that this too might be thinking too product centric, something that Hexagon does not want to offer. Because, to talk about the cloud means that you must discuss product features and functions moving to a SaaS environment. If that's what a client wants then I think Hexagon would offer it but that deals with product and not workflow; features and not functional solutions.
Hexagon offered broad visions that gets hearts pounding. But at the end of the day, it's products that sell. That's what must happen for customers to completely buy into the vision. After talking with product managers (see my other reports), I see that happening and I think customers will demand lots of demos and pilot projects to see if it really works as advertised.
However, If Intergraph had perhaps lost its voice since Jim Meadlock and Bob Thurber departed years ago, it may have found it once again.
[Disclosure: Travel for this trip was supported by Hexagon]