NI Culture and Stakeholder Engagement
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:
- Constant respect for people
- Uncompromising honesty and integrity
- Dedication to serving customers
- Commitment to innovation and continuous improvement
Through the various means in which NI engages with its stakeholders, the company’s management gains visibility and creates alignment with key shared value priorities and concerns, as shown in the following examples.
- Employees—One of the top concerns voiced by employees in 2013 through various feedback collection methods continued to be the rising cost of health care. As part of its open-communication policy, NI leaders held multiple town-hall-style meetings to discuss everything from new health care legislation in the United States to health risk assessment (HRA) statistics for employees. At these meetings, they also took questions about how the company plans to manage health care-related expenses. One solution that NI implemented was offering the option of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) for NI employees to take effect in 2014. This plan encourages employees to take an active role in their health care decisions and to be mindful of preventable expenses. NI leaders expected a 5 percent participation level from employees during the HDHP’s inaugural year, but instead they saw 23 percent participation level, which demonstrates NI employees’ willingness to work with NI to find the best health care solutions possible.
- 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 a customer satisfaction survey regarding the NI services offerings, NI discovered it has the opportunity to enhance awareness of its system assurance programs and hardware services among customers. 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 2013, the majority of discussions between NI management and investors focused on strategic investments in R&D and the field sales force, key growth drivers, large orders, the company's business model and uses of cash. These topics were discussed through one-on-one meetings at nine investor conferences and five non-deal road shows. The company also hosted its shareholder meeting at its headquarters in Austin, Texas, reported earnings results through a quarterly call with the investment community, and hosted its annual investor day in conjunction with NIWeek, the company's global user conference. This year, NI paid cash dividends equaling $0.56 per share.