Geo Week News

June 5, 2013

HxGN LIVE in Las Vegas maps future of 3D imaging industry


Leica Geosystems takes new selling approach to verticals

Hexagon sure knows how to put on a show. I’m at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas this week attending HxGN LIVE, the third annual international user’s conference for Hexagon AB, the global supplier of design, measurement and visualisation technologies. And, believe me, it’s certainly impressive.

Over 3,500 professionals working with Hexagon’s three businesses – Leica Geosystems, Intergraph Corporation, and Hexagon Metrology – are attending. That’s up from just over 3,000 last year and about 2,500 in 2011, the company said.

The industries represented include geospatial, surveying, power and energy, construction, aerospace and defense, public safety and security, automotive and manufacturing.

Kicking off the event, Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén’s keynote laid out what’s in store for the company’s future, including autonomous robotics, in-line inspection for manufacturing, mobile applications for smartphones and tablets, and computing and storing data in the cloud.

The conference’s four tracks cover:

  • Metrology – as applied to manufacturing metrology such as the integration of scanning into marine ship building workflows 
  • Process, Power & Marine – industrial facilities
  • Security, Government & Infrastructure (SG&I) – integrates city planning and operations – including GIS – with emergency preparation/response
  • Geosystems – surveying, mapping, and laser scanning, also known as high-definition surveying or HDS

For the first time, the most popular sessions, discussions and keynote presentations are streamed live on HxGN LIVE TV. HxGN is short for Hexagon Global Network.

At the event, Leica, the world’s leading manufacturer of 3D laser scanners with U.S. headquarters in Norcross, Ga., unveiled its new Nova MS50 MultiStation, the first to combine 3D scanning, total station, imaging and GNSS positioning in one instrument.

Users can measure objects on a construction site, calculate volumes, monitor a bridge, capture an accident scene with digital imaging or scan the exterior side of a building, according to the company.

The MS50 ties 3D scans into total station point cloud measurements, which are fed into regular survey workflows, allowing the user to verify the data’s integrity in the field, avoiding the costs of reworking and returns.

The company calls the MS50 a “game-changing measurement solution” – from capturing and visualizing data to creating deliverables. Adding to the pomp, Rollén even had wine served to the audience to join him in toasting Nova’s debut.

Leica also rolled out its Leica Pegasus One mobile mapping instrument, which captures calibrated imagery and point cloud data, then allows users to process, visualize and deliver through a GIS-based software platform, whether capturing a highway topo view or recording city road assets.

I sat down with Ken Mooyman, president of Leica Geosystems (NAFTA), to find out more about the new products and the company’s strategy for growth, including a new approach to target customers in distinct regions effective July 1.

Leica’s new segment approach

Mooyman said about three years ago, Leica began taking a different look at the way it approached selling to verticals, or what he calls segments. He explained that, in the past, Leica would develop a new survey instrument, but overlook its application in other verticals, such as construction and forensics.

“We would build a total station and try to force fit that into different applications,” Mooyman said. “What we really want is to go to these types of verticals and understand what they need, so we can bring that back into the development of the solutions to better penetrate all the different applications where these instruments could be used.”

He said the NOVA MS50 MultiStation is a perfect example of that.

“Here’s a product, that instead of just being built and thrown over the fence, it was designed to use several application-based softwares to make it more customer-centric,” he said.

The Pegasus mobile mapping system is another example of the new strategy being followed at Leica.

“The MS50 was about ease of use, really an extension of the traditional surveying application, and Pegasus is really for us no different,” Mooyman said. “That’s why we call it mobile scanning, instead of a mobile scanner, because we feel that a company doesn’t just buy a Pegasus to do mobile mapping. So, we’re trying to penetrate the larger engineering firms and geospatial firms that do aerial imagery.”

To do that, Leica needs to emphasize the versatility of capturing 3D data, Mooyman explained, pointing to the Pegasus’ ability to fit on any vehicle.

“It’s called vehicle independent. That’s the marketing phrase, but it goes back to the ease of use and making sure these solutions get utilized more broadly,” he said.

The mobile mapping instrument can be used on cars, boats and ATV’s. Mooyman said one customer has already expressed interest in using it on a golf cart for a very, large construction site.

Some of Leica’s competitors also focus on verticals, but Mooyman said they “fall short” by not allowing the verticals to interact with each other.

As examples, he said one competitor doesn’t allow verticals to interact with each other, while another “big” competitor does not have any verticals at all, relying instead on a more open, one-size-fits all sales strategy.

Once Leica recognized what it – and its competitors – were doing, it decided to change strategies and install segment managers to oversee a sales approach for specific verticals, while working collaboratively with others.

Leica’s new sales structure includes dividing its NAFTA market into regions, including U.S. East, U.S. West, Canada and Mexico, to target the following verticals, or segments:

  • Agriculture
  • Plant Process
  • Building and Construction – BIM
  • Interior and Finishing
  • Monitoring and Control 
  • Forensics and Public Safety
  • Mapping – aerial and mobile
  • Surveying
  • Engineering and Infrastructure – aka Machine Control in the United States
  • GIS – Asset Collection and Management 

“Now, segment managers decide which products are best to penetrate that vertical and how best to do that,” Mooyman said. “It’s about developing customer-centric solutions.”

Shift from hardware to software

Mooyman said when he started selling laser scanners in the late 90s, the emphasis during the sales call was all about the hardware. And, that’s changed – a lot.

“When I started in scanning 14 years ago, it was definitely about the hardware because we were only selling to early adopters then. It was very difficult to find software that could create deliverables,” he said. “Today, I think it becomes much more about the software because the industry has matured. The hardware provides the cloud of points, but it’s more about what you can do with it.”

So, instead of early adopters, Leica targets customers Mooyman describes as “pragmatists.”

“You still need the right hardware that’s easy to use, which is what the MS50 is about, because it’s really a surveying instrument that’s been extended into scanning,” he said. “But still without that software, especially for the pragmatists, they wouldn’t make that investment because they want deliverables. The want to see that.”

But cross-selling into different verticals is not the right strategy for all Leica products. In fact, the new Nova multistation is characteristic of Leica’s “customer-centric” approach, Mooyman said.

“We don’t believe the MS50 is the right solution if you are focused on doing big scanning projects,” he explained. “We already have excellent solutions for that.”

He’s referring to the Leica ScanStation C10, which includes a high-accuracy/long-range scanner, and the P20 line of high-speed scanners, capturing up to a million points per second.

“We feel so strongly about that that we have our Forensics and Surveying guys selling the MS50, but our HDS guys are still specialists, focused on HDS-related types of applications,” Mooyman said. “For me, the message is you would never do that if the MS50 was a complex solution. It’s just an extension of what they’re doing, whether you’re surveying, whether you’re doing plant surveying, or whether you’re a forensics guy, even the workflow is similar.”

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