Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2013 (Revised October 2013)

National Instruments

by Lynda M. Applegate, Keri Pearlson and Natalie Kindred


This case explores the use of social media to support product design, customer support, marketing and HR activities at National Instruments (NI). Based in Austin, Texas, with over $1 billion in 2011 sales, NI designs, produces, and sells software and hardware platforms that simplify development of its customers' measurement and control systems. Its customers, ranging from individuals (professors and their students) to large corporations, consist primarily of scientists and engineers—a pedigree shared by most NI employees. Since dedicating a full-time position to formalizing the use of social media tools in 2006, NI has infused social capabilities into its internal and customer-facing business processes, strengthening relationships and value delivered.

NI's story deepens our understanding of how to build a social business strategy, create game changing innovation processes, and measure the value of its social technology investments—a key challenge facing the company. By touching on NI's history and culture, the case also allows students to consider what elements of this company's organization and culture have allowed it to build a robust social business model.

Keywords: Organizational Structure; Software; Organizational Culture; Technological Innovation; Technology Platform; Innovation and Management; Media; Management Systems; Social and Collaborative Networks; Information Technology Industry; Service Industry; Texas;


Applegate, Lynda M., Keri Pearlson, and Natalie Kindred. "National Instruments." Harvard Business School Case 813-001, April 2013. (Revised October 2013.)