By Ola Rollén, Hexagon President and CEO
If you’re fascinated by disruptive forces of nature like I am, you’re probably tracking the big disruptive event happening in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on the big island of Hawaii. One of its five volcanos, Kilauea, has been spewing out lava, disrupting life near the quaint town of Pahoa. It’s one of the most active volcanos in the world, and has been erupting steadily since 1983.
The new violent flare up in early May caused magma to push more than 10 miles downslope toward the populated southeast coastline of the island. The advance of lava couldn’t be stopped and has destroyed entire neighborhoods, engulfed automobiles, and ironically, taken out a geothermal plant built to harness the power of volcanic activity bubbling from the Earth’s core.
If we equate this disruption to technology and one of the most disruptive forces of all time – the internet – we see another unstoppable force: Data. About 10 years ago, the core of the internet was transformed forever. Before then, the majority of data, and “traffic,” on the internet was created by people. Data flow was not an issue. Soon we realized this network possessed untapped potential. Why limit data to only what we as humans could generate? Why not connect the millions of sensors and machines and devices that exist in the world creating an IoT… an Internet of Things?
Indeed, IoT data has turned out to be an eruption that couldn’t be held back or controlled any more than the lava flowing from the crater of Kilauea. It’s become overwhelming. And while this flow of data has been heralded as the greatest achievement in human history, promising efficiencies and productivity and safety at mind-blowing levels, in the short term it’s had somewhat of the opposite effect – the gap between data generation and data usage is growing exponentially wider every day. We need an accelerator to close this gap and put data to work for us.
This has been the driving force of Hexagon’s research and innovation efforts for the past few years – the cumulative result of which is an enormous leap forward we call Xalt. It’s a framework for accelerating our customers’ ability to harness all data without getting bogged down in the details. The goal of Xalt is to create autonomous connected ecosystems (ACE), a state where data is connected seamlessly through the convergence of the physical world with the digital, and where intelligence is built in to all processes. This not only transforms more data into actionable information for users but also brings active knowledge to the entire ecosystem through autonomous processes and communications between machines.
We are moving into a critical period for our company and the industries we serve. I’m calling on all of us to test our limits and take “The Big Leap” into a new technological era that has the potential to completely transform our world. AI, machine learning, edge computing, total mobility, and data visualization are among the critical, disruptive capabilities we are exploring within our own research and development efforts at Hexagon. We are working hard to identify how these concepts help our customers bridge the growing gap between what is possible with new technology and what they are currently doing with it.