3DX-Ray Ltd, a subsidiary of AIM listed company Image Scan Holdings plc, was founded to develop innovative 3D and 2D technologies for x-ray inspection. Its research & development programmes gained added urgency after the events of 9/11 in the USA and the company has launched several innovative proprietary x-ray imaging products, especially in baggage screening. These technologies also offer significant benefits to industrial inspection markets and 3DX-Ray developed a range of powerful x-ray inspection tools capable of operating in real-time within the production line itself.
However, as with most companies at this stage of their development, 3DX-Ray faced major issues in the transition from a small research & development and specials company to a high growth business aiming to dominate it’s market sector. Recognising the need for external assistance, 3DX-Ray asked Qi3 to help it address these challenges so the company could fully exploit its major market opportunities.
Initial discussions on the needs of the business identified four priority areas:
Priority 1 – Understanding Markets
The company understood the security markets well, but its knowledge of the wide range of potential industrial markets was very limited. Qi3’s initial research identified the medical device, pharmaceutical and automotive industries as having the best potential for immediate and long-term growth. Initial market research gathered information to guide the immediate sales programme and work is ongoing to characterise these markets in much greater depth in order to guide the product development programmes.
Priority 2 – Building Immediate Sales Prospects
An urgent task was to build an industrial sales prospect pipeline. Existing sales leads were reviewed, new lead management / quotation processes implemented, and effective sales management disciplines introduced. Three types of customer were identified – end-users, value added resellers (VAR) and original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Strategies for managing them have been developed and the first commitment from a major VAR has been obtained which could lead to £5 – £15 million of sales over the next five years.
Priority 3 – Developing an International Sales and Service Organisation
To manage the prospects pipeline, it was also essential to build an international sales organisation. First, an experienced UK Industrial Sales Manager was recruited. Next, a strategy was developed to establish an international sales organisation using specialist distributors with a portfolio of complementary products. Finally, a cost-effective, global customer support and service strategy was developed to support global sales. Qi3 worked closely with 3DX-Ray to implement both these strategies.
Priority 4 – Product Strategy and Road Mapping
To become the dominant global supplier in the x-ray inspection market, 3DX-Ray needs to maintain a stream of innovative new products that closely match market needs. Market road maps and product development strategies are being developed to drive growth. A major key to success for these strategies is ‘time to market’ and Qi3 worked with 3DX-Ray on product portfolio management, project focus and new product development processes in order to dramatically reduce ‘time to market’.
Crossing the chasm on their journey to high growth can be perilous for developing companies. Keys to success include excellent market knowledge, clear strategy, focussed targets and rapid implementation. 3DX-Ray is on target to double turnover this year from £800,000 last year, with a significant amount coming from industrial markets. The infrastructure of strategy, processes and focus is now being implemented to underpin similar growth rates for the next few years.
“Qi3 have stimulated us to think about our markets differently, and provided us with a pool of expertise and resource to implement new approaches. Their strategic thinking and hands-on support have been critical to developing and implementing the new strategies that are transforming 3DX-Ray’s market position. Qi3’s efforts have put us on track to achieve our target of sales growth this year.