What a joke


I was speaking with Dan McGovern, the new editor at SPAR 3D, the other day about the state of the laser scanning industry. He found it almost comical that I was so strongly opinionated about the condition of our business; or more directly, that I was so disgusted with the love affair we have for ourselves. More to the point, we (BIM, VDC, et al.) think we’re the greatest.

My company, and others I know, participate in industry conferences (SPAR), trade shows, blogs, and other platforms for communication. And, we are all in a race to be the next greatest thing. We love the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back. We forward emails, articles, website links, etc., that might give a peek into the future of 3D. We’re obsessed with being ourselves.

Need some proof? Ever been to a BIM event and had the guy in the room say something to the effect, “I’ve been doing BIM for the last 22 years.” Or, have you attended a conference and had someone say they scan to “…if it wasn’t for us, [insert client name here]would never have been able to do the job.” I attended a conference this year where a laser scanning company said they’d received an award that didn’t even exist. It was completely made up!

The narcissistic attitude of our industry is mind blowing, and could seriously stunt our growth. The fact is, the majority of our industry is scraping by surviving from job to job, and we’re not taking advantage of the opportunities. We don’t have good industry alliances, we provide helter-skelter quality of deliverables, and there’s confusion about the industry standards.

How do I know? Answer this question:‘Of all available vertical markets, what’s the penetration (acceptance) of our technology and services?’ I would suggest it might be 5%. If I’m wrong by 100% – then it’s still less than 90%! That translates into a HUGE opportunity.

Rx for a Cure

So what can we do to set the right course, capitalize on our investments, and create long-term revenue streams? Here are a few ideas:

Close the loop: Offer clients a complete solution to their problem from start to finish. Start by asking what their end goal is and then fill in the blanks. If you can’t, then seek out industry alliances and create win/win partnerships with competent businesses to augment yours.

Teach hunting – Not target practice: Too often we make promises on what the technology can provide. The instrument manufacturer’s start the fire by making promises on what their scanners can accomplish, but they can’t show you how to integrate into pre-existing workflows. Teach your clients how to hunt … don’t just give them a rifle. Ever heard the saying, “it’s not the bow, it’s the Indian”? Educate your clients on 3D technology integration … don’t sell them.

Quit lying: This one is pretty straight forward. Don’t make promises of accuracy, delivery times, file sizes, LOD, etc., that you can’t provide. Newer or inexperienced companies are making promises they can’t possibly keep. [News flash—India is not your answer.] And sometimes laser scanning is NOT the answer, so don’t convince them that it is.

Coach to their ability: Don’t overwhelm your client with your glorious accomplishments when all they want, or can understand, is something very simple. I’ve seen Autodesk sit before large customers pushing Revit when the client was ripe for a 2d CAD file. Take baby steps … there’s more revenue/profit in doing so.


About Author

Ken Smerz

In an attempt to shine light on the rather significant question that service providers throughout the U.S. have struggled with, I’ll be authoring a series of articles that address some challenges service providers face and hopefully offer some constructive advice gleaned through my work running Precision3D Scanning. I want to emphasize that my opinions are just that—and nothing makes me more qualified than anyone else trying to earn a living in an emerging marketplace. I encourage your feedback.


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