In this episode of HxGN Radio, we sat down with Hexagon’s Chief Technology Officer about the innovation solutions Hexagon delivers and using those solutions to empower customers to solve real-world problems. To listen to more HxGN Radio episodes, visit our channels on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.
Welcome to HxGN Radio. This is your host Neville Judd. Hexagon believes that within every constraint lies an opportunity and that innovation should be based not on the direction we believe the world is heading but in the direction we believe the world should go. Hexagon’s future depends on empowering customers to solve problems much larger than they can solve alone. Issues such as resource scarcity, population growth, urbanization, and energy demand. This kind of change is complex. It requires long term investment and commitment which is why Hexagon is focused on solutions that transform entire industry landscapes while creating value and resiliency for our customers and our business. Hexagon believes that innovation is the inspiration that drives this process and who better to discuss innovation and technology today than Hexagon’s Chief Technology Officer Claudio Simao.
NJ: Claudio, thanks for joining us today.
CS: Thanks Neville. It’s a pleasure to be here.
NJ: So Claudio, you’ve been with Hexagon since 2002 in various roles. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
CS: I’m Brazilian, born in San Paulo. I’ve a history in mechanical engineering and physics and I have a post graduate degree in dynamics of continuous systems, nowadays called mechatronics. I have always been passionate about applied physics and technology and I have worked for metal engineering department for companies like Siemens and Mercedes Benz. In fact, I was preparing myself to be a university researcher in UK but a friend of mine invited me to start a company based on one of my academic projects. This was the trigger for change and after that I founded 5 other companies and eventually sold all of them. One of these companies called Quality Technology was one of the first companies that Hexagon acquired and that was my introduction to Hexagon. In Hexagon I had the opportunity to participate since the beginning of this interesting and successful journey, serving among other assignments as president of Hexagon South America, president for Hexagon Asia-Pacific Metrology and now as chief technology officer and president of Hexagon Ventures.
NJ: So what are some of the innovation and technology drivers you see out there for our customers?
CS: Well innovation is always driven by market needs, even if from a visionary perspective. Usually the imminent needs are the most appealing as historically we have seen in challenging times of human kind. Nowadays we are facing many different challenges that directly or indirectly affect our customers from the environmental sustainability appeal in contradiction to the growth of the middle class and the rapid urbanization and the collaterals this triggers. For example, in public safety, to the opportunities that we have for productivity improvement with digital technologies. These macro drivers are really relevant and are promoting major changes in our society, changing value chains and business model in all industries. From the technology perspective, what is driving innovation presently is not only the new technology themselves as, for instance, augmented reality, virtual reality, image processing, intelligent networks nano-technology and so on. But also many of the so called “old” technology that before were limited by adjunct technologies but now are empowered by the enablers as connectivity, fast computing, low cost, low footprint sensing and so on.
As examples of these empowered or enabled technologies are cloud computing, modern artificial intelligence, data mining, machine learning, big data analytics, dynamic modeling, etc. As I have mentioned before, as important as technology innovation sometimes disruptive due to the utilization of enablers, even when applied to the old technologies, is the disruption of value chains and business models, that can change complete industries. This has resulted already in the collapse of some light houses in the industry like in photography, music, movies and transportation which we’re not fast enough to adopt new models. So our customers are willing to use digital technology and the innovative platforms to participate in this new era of productivity and effective business models that create value for our stakeholders at the end.
NJ: You mentioned disruptive innovation. Our customers’ expectations are pretty high when it comes innovation from us and those innovations are expected to be disruptive. What does disruptive innovation mean to you and to Hexagon?
CS: Neville, I have a strong belief that effective innovation is always disruptive. Innovation differs from improvement – sometimes called incremental evolution. Innovation in fact refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better. Bottom line, sometimes we can anticipate the market needs by understanding technology possibilities and then even a simple idea can trigger a deeply disruptive innovation simply by envisioning the market move. Additionally, in this new market place of technical and commercial platforms that we have nowadays the disruption is not mandatorily coming from the technological landscapes at all. Most of the disruption lately is much more related to business models and dramatic changes in the value chain.
NJ: Now you head up what Hexagon calls the Innovation Hub. What is the Innovation Hub and what’s its role at Hexagon?
CS: In my position as chief technology officer I lead the Innovation Hub that you just mentioned and the corporate R&D in Hexagon. The Innovation Hub itself was created to better support Hexagon solution centric strategy and to strengthen and expand our corporate R&D function into the new digital technologies outlook. The vision of corporate R&D is not to concentrate R&D initiatives or resources but really the other way around. In fact, it’s much more to liaise interdivisional synergies and commonalities, leveraging the potential of Hexagon’s portfolio of technologies. It’s very comprehensive domain knowledge too. So it’s really a major opportunity that we have in our hands. Innovation Hub includes three main areas: The technology center, the application center, and Hexagon Ventures. The technology center which was formerly called Hexagon Technologies Center (HTC) is focused on hardware innovation and product related software. The Application Center is a new group and in Application Center we are focused on the development of core software platforms as a framework for applications development. The Application Center is also focused on the development of some of the key enabling technology that can help Hexagon’s divisions to expedite implementation of a new disruptive revolutionary solutions and business model. Finally, Hexagon Ventures is our market facing initiative. That means it takes to market our new technologies solutions, for example Smart Agriculture, Smart Asset Control, Modular Assembly, Smart H20, Smart City solutions. This is also done in alignment with the divisions for future transitioning.
NJ: Looking ahead, what Hexagon innovations excite you most?
CS: Well I think that the general concept of merging the real world with the virtual world with embedded intelligence and real-time correction of deviations striving for improving productivity is a high level but very effective vision of where we are driving to. Additionally, this journey will disrupt value chains as I mentioned and create major opportunities for Hexagon. As I also mentioned, Hexagon is in a very privileged position to leverage this new trend. So this will be fantastic. I’m really excited.
NJ: Claudio, thanks very much for being our guest.
CS: Thank you.
To our listeners you can learn more about the Innovation Hub at hexagon.com. Tune into more episodes from HxGN Radio on ITunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher Radio. Thanks for listening.