National Instruments’ industry leadership is built on proven technology, visionary executive management, and sustained growth. Managed for the long term, the company balances the needs of each of its key stakeholders and is committed to innovation, continuous improvement, and customer success. The company’s long-term view, known as the 100-year plan, balances the NI vision and culture with short-term business needs.
NI aggressively invests not only in product design and development but also in maintaining its unique corporate culture that serves as a key differentiator and competitive advantage. This collaborative, entrepreneurial culture spurs innovation in every area of the business and empowers employees to create technology that helps customers and partners address the world’s greatest engineering challenges.
The following underlying NI core values are central to the company’s corporate culture and are present in day-to-day interactions and the way NI does business:
Through the various means in which NI engages with its stakeholders, the company’s management gains visibility and creates alignment with key corporate responsibility priorities and concerns, as shown in the following examples.
Employees—One of the top concerns voiced by employees in 2012 through various feedback collection methods continued to be the rising cost of health care. As part of their open-communication policy, NI leaders held multiple town-hall-style meetings to discuss how new health-care legislation in the United States will impact NI and its employees. At these meetings, they also took questions about how the company plans to manage these expenses. Additionally, NI wants to make it easier for its employees to “get healthier.” Therefore, in 2012, NI conducted its third round of health risk assessments (HRAs) for employees. The company uses the aggregate data from the HRAs to develop health and wellness programs tailored for its employees. NI also made all of its US locations smoke and tobacco free in 2012. To help employees with this change, the company offers free smoking cessation programs for all employees who desire to quit smoking.
Customers—As NI continues to grow and the number of large systems sold continues to account for a greater percentage of the company’s business, a complete services and support offering becomes a greater priority for customers. Services and support is a current investment area for NI. Through the annual customer satisfaction and loyalty survey, NI continues to see the importance customers place on both a vendor's ability to provide a high level of customer service as well as the ability to easily integrate the hardware and software within their system. In addition, due to developments such as the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, NI customers are making a concerted effort to better understand the business practices of its suppliers. In response, NI assigned additional resources to address this increase in customer requests for information about NI business practices.
Suppliers—In 2010, the United States enacted Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to address humanitarian concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The concerns stem from four minerals obtained from rebel-controlled mines in the DRC region—gold, tantalum, tin, and tungsten. The law and subsequent rules published by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) require publicly traded companies to disclose information about the origins of these materials starting for fiscal year 2013. Therefore, determining this information has become a key concern for both NI and its suppliers. NI has a policy to avoid purchasing components that contain minerals obtained from conflict sources. For more information about this issue, refer to the Managing Critical Substances section of this report.
Shareholders—In 2012 the majority of the company’s discussion with NI investors focused on the company’s strategic investments in R&D and the field sales force, key growth drivers, large order business, and uses of cash. NI management discussed these topics with shareholders through multiple events including eight investor conferences and five nondeal road shows. The company also hosted its shareholder meeting at its headquarters, quarterly earnings calls, and its annual analyst day as part of the NIWeek global user conference. NI raised its dividends 40 percent and paid cash dividends equaling $0.56 USD per share in 2012, which was $0.16 USD more per share over 2011.