Hexagon 2012: Think Forward

Hexagon 2012, which took place from June 4-7 at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the company’s second annual international conference, brought together the latest technologies and user communities from Leica Geosystems, Intergraph, Hexagon Metrology, and Novatel in one location to provide attendees with a user experience impressive in scope and value. All of the company’s latest solutions were on display in a massive 42,000 sq. ft. “TechPark” at the MGM Conference Center.
Professionals from 70 countries, from the mapping, positioning, surveying, engineering, construction, asset management, public safety and security, and geospatial solutions industries took part in record-breaking levels. With more than 3,000 industry leaders at the Hexagon event, whose theme was “Think Forward,” attendance numbers jumped more than 75% ahead of last year’s conference. 
The Geosystems track alone featured more than 100 targeted breakout sessions tailored into three sub-tracks: “Trends in Mapping & Positioning for Government and Industry,” “HDS/Laser Scanning,” and “Geospatial Solutions.” Each session incorporated hands-on training courses, previews of new technologies, interactive technical demonstrations and workshops, customer’s product stories from the field, Q & A periods, and nearly unlimited networking opportunities. 
Jüergen Dold, president, Hexagon Geosystems, and Ken Mooyman, president, Hexagon Geosystems NAFTA, presented the featured keynote address for the Geosystems track (see the Business Leader column in PSM’s August issue for an interview with Mooyman conducted during the conference). They highlighted how the latest innovations from Geosystems—combined with its customers' expertise and ingenuity—are changing the future of the industry. Attendees also had the opportunity to learn how Geosystems’ solutions interface with and leverage Intergraph, MicroSurvey, and Metrology solutions for the benefit of end-users and their clients.
“Hexagon 2012 unites a broad base of customers and partners from all over the world and provides a unique opportunity to showcase the synergies across the entire Hexagon organization and learn from our customers first-hand how our integrated solutions are optimizing their workflows, resulting in a smarter approach to the planning and execution of projects,” said Mooyman. “I am always inspired by their ingenuity.”
One of the questions Professional Surveyor Magazine posed to Ola Rollén, the CEO of Hexagon AB, the Swedish parent company of Leica Geosystems and Intergraph, is where he sees the biggest potential cost-benefits: in the realm of positioning technologies or in perfecting related process, operations, and data management? 
“You have to get the work process [down],” Rollén said. He explained that technological success and client satisfaction are not just a matter of acquiring the positioning data, but are also the processes that turn that data into “actionable information.” Conference attendees first started hearing this catch phrase “actionable information” at the inaugural Hexagon Conference in 2011, and it has since become an apt characterization of the overall Hexagon mission: information that informs the best possible decision making, design, and operations.
Mooyman likewise noted that while the technological advances in positioning hardware and data collection software continue unabated, process and workflow integration have deservedly been a focus for Hexagon. Just look at the acquisition of Intergraph (that risen from its CAD-centric roots to become a process, plant, and marine giant) and more recent acquisitions like MicroSurvey, he noted.
The good news for MicroSurvey aficionados is that the company (including the legendary Star*Net) is alive and well since acquisition by Hexagon, running as it always has, remaining an independent and innovative company. MicroSurvey founder Darcy Deltor said at Hexagon 2012 that he was very happy about this new partnership. “We are getting more opportunities to collaborate, like with [software] for the GeoMax (a new brand of surveying solutions offered by Hexagon),” Deltor said.
MicroSurvey also continues to  work with surveyors to integrate their workflows into the sensors used in the field. Darcy continued, “For example, surveyors using MicroSurvey CAD solutions can now work directly in CAD to process their field data. This is a request I have heard for years from surveyors in the United States and Canada. This new integrated solution enables them to streamline workflows and is just the first of many innovations that will come as a direct result of the acquisition of MicroSurvey earlier this year.”
One fear reported among surveyors is that favorite product lines are being gobbled up by huge companies and becoming diluted or dismantled. Deltor said he sees these acquisitions and partnerships as actually more of an opportunity. He continues that if, as initial results appear, substantial gains are being made in the process and workflow side, then a strategy of concentrating on not just positioning but also on process (a strategy that is evidently working well for Hexagon and others) could be the best course for surveyors and our industry to follow.
An informal query of other end-users attending the conference found few who disagree that the trend of acquisitions and consolidations to bring about this synergy of positioning and process is a real boost to the surveying industry. Most noted that while it is a bit discomforting to accept, the days of viable, single-line instrument manufacturers or “two-box” GNSS makers—even though they may be excellent products—appear to be in the rear-view mirror. Users are seeking broader product lines and synergy with support, dealers, user communities, and process solutions.
Another key ingredient for this year’s conference success was its content. The sheer volume and breadth of sessions offered during Hexagon 2012 provided attendees with dynamic opportunities to learn from real-life solutions.  The sessions demonstrated first-hand progressive and innovative uses of technologies ranging from ground-breaking use of HDS scanners as compelling forensic court evidence, to extreme terrain mapping, to the use of Leica Geosystems GPS monitoring solutions as part of an early warning system against devastating landslides in Croatia. 
Hexagon 2012 evolved into a must-attend conference for surveyors, more this year than last.  The event was truly an eye- and mind-opening experience for the surveying industry and its attendees.

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