Hexagon adds to its GIS CaaS offering

Jan 29, 2020 | Hot Topics

You could be forgiven for not realizing that Hexagon, besides offering lots of design, engineering and manufacturing technology, also sells data. In fact, that was a major feature of Hexagon’s Capital Markets Day back in 2014 or 2015, right after it acquired North West Geomatics.

Today, it announced another extension to that content offering with the acquisition of an aerial mapping business. COWI is a consulting firm that captures and sells Content as a Service (CaaS – another acronym, sigh) and has been delivering this to buyers through Hexagon’s HxGN Content Program in Europe since 2015.

COWI has 400 specialists worldwide, who provide engineering, economics and environmental sciences, and government clients with airborne surveying and spatial data that’s used during planning and study phases of many different types of projects.

Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén said of the deal, that this acquisition is the next logical step in building out the Content Program in Europe: “[T]his acquisition accelerates Hexagon’s mission to provide customers with access to the largest on-demand library of professional-grade and quality controlled geospatial data for applications such as asset management, public safety, utility mapping, insurance claims, and more.”

COWI’s mapping business will operate within the geospatial content solutions unit of Hexagon’s Geosystems division. The acquisition is expected to be completed during Q2 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.

No price was disclosed, so we can’t calculate a multiple — but Hexagon did say that 2019 net sales, were €14 million.

I am often asked how enterprises can be sure they are using accurate and up-to-date data in their decision-making processes. AEC projects often start with spatial data, like survey results or aerial mapping. Say you’re planning an extension to a town’s water system, and need to know where the houses are, how large (to estimate their water use), where catch basins are located … You could rely on the data you have, which might be old. You can survey yourself, with people, equipment and time. Or you can use a service like Hexagon’s, where CaaS, gives relatively inexpensive access to the latest data.

Sometimes owning data gives a competitive advantage. But sometimes it’s just an input to be used when needed. CaaS fulfills a valuable purpose in making data more readily available, giving greater confidence to planners.