Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) designs and manufactures precise positioning products and solutions for the global surveying, construction, agriculture, civil engineering, mapping and GIS, asset management and mobile control markets. TPS’ parent company, Topcon Corporation, was founded in 1932. With more than $1.2 billion in annual sales, Topcon is one of the largest providers of precise positioning products, such as high-accuracy GNSS receivers and Optical Total Stations for construction and industry. Hundreds of thousands of construction workers, builders, and engineers use Topcon products to map and measure the world.
Providing accurate training information on how to correctly use these products helps consumers get the most out of the Topcon products and systems they work with every day.
Training had always happened in traditional manners at TPS. Experts in different areas would develop their own materials, and those materials would be exchanged via email or presented in live, instructor-led events. As a student, once you took a class you were left to your own devices, with little opportunity to interact with a TPS expert until the next training class. A private extranet for training was an obvious solution, but the actual needs of the organization were hard to scope definitively without first experimenting with some solutions in the real world. Picking a commercial product would have limited what Topcon could do in the big picture—very few learning-management systems could balance the needs of the organization with the abilities of the trainers as content authors. A Drupal application ended up on the cutting-room floor, as the cost and timeline for new site features to be developed was prohibitive. TPS needed something that could meet their needs in the near-term, but also serve as a solid foundation for building a larger, enterprise-level application in the years to come.
Jason Evans, one of TPS' Training Experts, found concrete5 while exploring alternatives to Drupal in the Open Source CMS space. Taking advantage of the instant hosting setups available at concrete5.org, he was able to build a basic website in a few hours' work over the weekend to securely house some training documents for his students. The following week, he was installing add-ons from the Marketplace to meet some of his advanced functionality needs, like a calendar for upcoming events and a forum area where students could collaborate. Within days, Jason was actively using the site with his colleagues and students, sharing resources and collecting ideas for what else the site could do.
After seeing real benefits so quickly, it was easy for TPS to invest in building more features for what had become “Topcon University Online.” They engaged the development team behind concrete5 to add some reporting for tracking who had watched which videos so that they could view who was doing the course work—especially the prerequisite course material that would make their live, instructor-led trainings even better. A Certification and Testing add-on was developed to allow basic certification to happen online. Integration with SalesForce was added for single sign-on and data sharing, allowing TU Online to integrate with other systems TPS had stored in SalesForce, such as Support Tickets. Tools were developed to allow sales staff to co-brand the entire site, turning training into a feature TPS could offer its clients as a competitive advantage.
Today, the site has turned into Topcon TotalCare, a complete support and training solution featuring online resources as well as support staff who can help Topcon customers stay productive. Software updates, comprehensive product information, and self-directed training resources augment live webinars, certification tracks, and access to the Experts. Moderated discussion boards, an event calendar, and news and product alerts keep customers up-to-date on important new concepts.
The site serves as a single, accurate source of product data. Leveraging the strength of the concrete5 platform, it can be easily repurposed for different offline devices, print media, and mobile platforms. TPS even offers downloadable versions of the site with a custom template and theme sets, allowing the company's professional sales representatives to use the information as a presentation tool.
The core team has continued to develop tools to integrate with TPS' SalesForce CRM functionality, making possible functions ranging from online sales of subscriptions (to premium content) to product registration. These functions have expanded the Topcon TotalCare into a global solution for Topcon companies and subsidiaries throughout the world.
“We have found that using the development team behind concrete5 has been the best way to realize our vision of website design and user experience. The team’s commitment to elegant, insightful approaches to our requirements has proven their understanding of the needs of enterprise customers, and Internet technologies, time and again. Their efforts have produced an unparalleled return on investment.” -- Jason Evans, Topcon Positioning Systems, Inc.
When the time came to sign up for enterprise support from the development team behind concrete5, Jason’s pitch to executive management was easy: “These guys are pretty much superheroes—but without so much spandex. We need this.” TPS recognized that the health of the global Topcon TotalCare platform had grown into a key element of their business, and that their customers rely on the site to be available at all times. The development team behind concrete5 has made that a reality on a daily basis ever since.