You have been in the company for 17 years, how has FARO changed in your eyes?
I think there have been a lot of changes going on in FARO. The most significant change however was two years ago when we changed our complete business model from a product to a customer solution-oriented company. Instead of a product focussed approach we created business units which focus on dedicated customer markets to better serve the needs of each customer group. I am working now for the Construction BIM business unit which focusses on all reality capturing and reality modelling applications for the construction industry.
What do you think were the challenges that FARO overcame during these years?
There were e.g. technical challenges. Our laser scanners produce massive amounts of data, which are difficult to process. When looking 17 years back, the first 64-bit computers had been launched to the market which were in theory finally capable of handling large data sets, but the software was not ready yet, so computers weren’t powerful enough to handle the large data.
That has changed a lot over time. Computers that used to be high-power machines in e.g. universities are available to the broad market now and these developments really helped us to further develop our laser scanners However, laser scanning technology was also a challenge for our customers because they were used to working with traditional methods like a tape measure or plumb lines. So we had to convince our customers not only of the benefits of our products, but also of completely rethinking their measurement methodology.
The construction industry is starting to become more digitized and this is creating new demands for us. BIM as a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building during its lifecycle and a shared knowledge resource for information is becoming increasingly important and we can support our customers in getting fit for BIM.
How did you decide which improvements to make when you were developing later generation laser scanners?
I think all of this, in general, comes from two directions: on the one side and most importantly from customer demands and needs. On the other side, there are also on-going technology improvements. Our developers continuously analyse current technology trends to develop new solutions or increase performance. Taking both sides into consideration this forms the basis of developing the next generation device.
First Laser Scanner
Steve Jobs once said:”If you had asked the people how the next phone would look like we would have never had an iPhone” and today nobody uses anything else but smartphones. Henry Ford as another example said:” If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So this is to explain that customer requirements need to be understood while still making use of the latest technology advancements.
How did you find out who your customers were? Has that changed over time?
In the beginning, we were in an early adopter market, as laser scanner technology didn’t really exist. There were some universities working with it and some super expensive tools from surveying companies, but laser scanning was not existing in the broad market. Bernd and Reinhard Becker, the founders of iQvolution, which later became part of FARO, understood that this technology could be used in a much broader field of application. Over time we segmented the market and are now focussing on the needs of the construction industry with our Traceable ConstructionTM portfolio.
Watch out for a second part of the interview!