Technology is changing so rapidly in the surveying profession that it’s difficult for many firms to keep up, much less envision the possibilities five to ten years down the road. Yet that’s just what Hexagon is asking attendees to do at the Hexagon 2012 conference in Las Vegas this week, where the theme is “Think Forward.”

Presentations at the conference are offering some clues on emerging trends. In his address during the opening of the Geosystems session, Ken Mooyman, president of Hexagon Geosystems NAFTA, shared how the future involves a smarter approach to the planning and execution of projects.

One example is the City of Edmonton in Canada, which is combining Intergraph and Leica Geosystems products to improve the tracking of assets across 460 public parks covering more than 34 square miles. By using the Leica CS25 ultra rugged tablet and the Zeno GG02+ GNSS Smart Antenna, in conjunction with Intergraph's GeoMedia GIS management tool, the city is better able to manage its geospatial resources and streamline its workflow.

Another example is Lafayette, La.-based Fenstermaker, a company that began in 1950 as a small, regional surveying and mapping firm and is now a multidisciplinary organization with four divisions serving a wide range of markets, including the offshore oil and gas industry. The company began offering scanning services in 2006 after investing in a Leica ScanStation laser scanner, and it has continued to use technology to develop new solutions for its clients. Using a combination of laser scanning tools and point cloud visualization and modeling software, including Intergraph CADWorx, Fenstermaker is able to streamline its workflow and provide its clients with valuable information that provides dramatic cost savings.

“With integrated workflows and the ability to pull real-world data into smart visualization and design tools, professionals can help their clients see the unknown sooner and more clearly than before,” said Mooyman. This capability –which Hexagon calls “actionable information”—allows clients to make faster and more informed decisions.

So technology is helping surveying and mapping professionals predict the future for their clients. But how can firms develop a strategy that will secure their own futures? Although there is no crystal ball, the successful professionals I’ve talked to at the conference seem to have one approach in common—they continually challenge the status quo and actively seek new ways to streamline their own workflows and provide additional value for their clients. It’s a strategy that never becomes obsolete.