Microscan recently introduced new professional service offerings to the market, so I decided to stop by the office of Matt Van Bogart, Director of Software, Solutions, and Services, to discuss the new strategic service portfolio. A graduate of the University of Washington, Matt started at Microscan 17 years ago in digital marketing, undertaking several customer-interfacing roles, managing Microscan’s global partner program and launching some of the flagship products available from Microscan in the market today. About 4 years ago, Matt stepped into the role as Director of Marketing, focusing on brand awareness, demand generation, and working with the Product Management team on outlining product roadmaps and strategies. During this time, Matt was responsible for introducing Microscan’s MicroHAWK platform to the market.
Last year, Matt took the lead of the new “S3” initiative within Microscan. S3 is short for: Software, Solutions, and Services. Most of Matt’s background has been in Product Management, working to better understand Microscan’s core markets and the trends that drive demand for automation, inspection and traceability. Through his years of interfacing with customers and different industries he has gained significant industry knowledge and learned to transfer market needs into successful products and company strategies.
Hi Matt, can we step back and talk about the focus of the business and the course of the last few years? How does this lead up to what you are trying to accomplish now?
About 6 years ago, Microscan made a shift in our market-focused strategy – not so much changing our marketing or distribution channels, but really focusing on three core vertical markets that would lead to major business growth. This shift entailed aligning teams within the organization to focus on these three core verticals, which made up a substantial base of Microscan’s business but also markets that we believed would drive the vast amount of growth going forward: Electronics (assembly and manufacturing), Life-Sciences and what we call Packaging. With the combination of those three vertical teams, we began to focus on delivering value-added services and solutions to those customers.
More and more companies are very focused on their operations, quality and lean manufacturing initiatives. They view Microscan as a global leader for barcode, machine vision and verification technology, and they see us as subject matter experts who can help them deploy solutions for their specific applications. Those three teams were formed to really help elevate Microscan’s position in the market as a leading solutions provider for these customers. Many of our current customers tend to operate lean and are hyper focused on productivity, yield and quality. In many cases, they may not have teams of people in place that are experts on things like barcode traceability, machine vision or barcode verification. This is where we can help. Microscan has dozens of customer-facing employees that have ten, fifteen, twenty, or more years of experience across different industries and applications. These subject matter experts (SME’s) work with customers to understand their challenges and use all of the components at our disposal to deliver turn-key solutions to those challenges. Fast forward to 2015 and the acquisition of the LVS business highlighted the strong demand to deliver turn-key solutions to this base of customers. Now, more than two years later, we are seeing similar demand for solutions and services across our entire product portfolio. Some of our best and closest customers see Microscan as an extension of their team where we own and seamlessly deliver solutions to their production lines.
What are the services provided by Microscan today?
Some of the areas where we want to provide the added value services, are covered under our new professional services. This is where we engage with the customers and provide our subject-matter expertise as consultants. We come in and help define not only what the problem is but also find a solution using our technology. Some examples of such professional services are consultations provided on-site, installation services and site audits where we are on site and help customers identify issues or problems preventing them from hitting their specific goals. We have an offering of training services as well for our products and technology where we can educate and share the wealth of knowledge we have within our business so customers can be more self-reliant.
We also have priority support, which addresses the needs of the customers that have absolutely mission-critical systems but do not necessarily have the staff to man those systems 24x7 or provide their own dedicated support of those systems. Our priority support programs offer near real-time access to Microscan’s professional staff, who can support them in a timely manner.
In addition, we’ve added an extended warranty program as an insurance policy against the problems products may have in the field. We see more and more customers retooling their lines on an annual basis and reusing products from one application to another. As Microscan manufactures high quality products, our customers use our products for many years. The extended warranty provides our customers with a low-cost insurance policy. If there is an issue with the product within 2 or 3 years from shipping, we provide the enhanced warranty and guarantee faster response times if the product has an issue.
Technology has been moving more towards plug-and-play. How do the new services offerings involving additional resources and more complex solutions go along with this trend?
I would say we have our core focus on providing both of those. Microscan has invested a lot of thought and engineering time to design products like MicroHAWK so they are as easy to use as possible. We have run through an enormous amount of application and industry scenarios to make sure these products can be easily set up, used and supported by our users. Beginning at our online product configurator to the web-based software interface and automatic set-up features – MicroHAWK makes a user-experience easy.
When it comes to providing turn-key solutions, our approach is similar but slightly different. It is similar because we want to continue being a company that is easy and familiar to work with, and we want to solve customer pain points. We can be and want to be the SME’s their teams can rely to provide barcode, machine vision, verification or custom solutions to their challenges. As an example, we have projects where we delivered complete turn-key systems to our customers that included everything from machine vision inspection with motion control and custom software that interfaced our solution with their factory floor systems. Our service begins with a sound understanding of the problem and we employ our project management expertise into the project, and take care of statements of work, budget and timelines among other areas.
Can you give an example of one of the most recent projects managed by your group?
We currently have a large multi-national customer in medical device with the challenge of providing automation to a process that is labor intensive to insure the right product is in the right place, in the right time. Because they own a lot of the material that is being consumed by their customer; up to the point when it is consumed, the manual traceability process creates a significant opportunity for inefficiency and errors. For this customer we will deliver hardware and software solution ensuring the whole new level of traceability for this entire business with the long term goal to deliver the right part, at the right time for the right application. They specifically chose Microscan not only for our substantial footprint within the medical device industry, but for also having the expertise providing this type of solutions they needed: traceability, inspection, and software interface between systems. As important to delivering the final solution, we delivered consultation and guidance to them so they could understand the benefits and the possibilities for traceability and inspection.
Are there project challenges or pitfalls that are common for this industry? What do companies need to keep an eye on when they start implementing this type of project?
We find that many customers don’t know what they don’t know – which is fine because they are focused on what they do best. We’ve been working on thousands of applications and have hundreds of years of experience looking at all sorts of challenges.
The best thing to do is to find someone you can work with that not only understands process but knows how technology can be applied to yield the desired results. Finding an organization that can play both sides of the field is quite rare but is extremely valuable to ensure the best results.
A lot of what we do on the front end of these types of engagements is education. Once customers can see and understand what the possibilities are, they often have an “Aha” moment and see how they can implement our solutions into their processes.
Find more information about Microscan’s professional services here.
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