free virtual earth by Jarofflies


									                                             Microsoft Virtual Earth
                                             Customer Solution Case Study

                                             Solar Energy Company Cuts Estimate Costs 80
                                             Percent with Microsoft Mapping Technology

Overview                                     ―It‘s hard to calculate the exact dollar benefits of this
Country or Region: United States
                                             solution because it‘s a ‗disruptive‘ technology… But I
Industry: Manufacturing—Construction         can say that the success of our business is enabled
Customer Profile                             by our Virtual Earth–based solution.‖
Sungevity designs and installs residential   Danny Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer, Sungevity
solar energy systems throughout the San
Francisco Bay area. The Berkeley,
California–based company has 15
                                             Sungevity wanted to avoid the traditional cost, liability, and
                                             management overhead of traveling to customers’ homes to
Business Situation
                                             measure rooftops to calculate estimates for solar energy systems.
Sungevity wanted to improve the time-
consuming and expensive process of           To make solar energy affordable and accessible to “every
travelling to homes and climbing onto
                                             homeowner with a view of the sun,” says Chief Executive Officer
rooftops to calculate estimates for solar
systems.                                     Danny Kennedy, the company uses Microsoft® Virtual Earth™
                                             mapping technology to capture roof dimensions remotely. At
The company uses Microsoft® Virtual, customers type in their address, identify their
Earth™ online mapping technology to
                                             rooftop from an aerial photo, and get a free online quote, usually
calculate measurements remotely and
offer customers free, online estimates       within 24 hours. The company provides estimates around 27 days
through its Web site, usually within 24
                                             faster than the industry standard and at only 20 percent of the
                                             usual cost, and cut the price of a new solar system by around 10
                                             percent. In less than six months, the company has provided nearly
 Cuts estimate costs 80 percent
 Enables proactive marketing                2,000 Internet-based quotes, and is expanding its business with
 Cuts system costs 10 percent
                                             proactive marketing.
 Reduces liability
 Cuts estimate times by 27 days

Extro Interactive
―We can mail free                         Situation                                        Sungevity wanted to streamline the
                                          Founded in 2007 and based in the San             traditional estimate process, to make solar
custom quotes to people                   Francisco Bay area, Sungevity designs and        energy more convenient, affordable, and
who … may never have                      installs home solar energy systems as a cost-    attractive to consumers. This would require
                                          effective and environmentally friendly           creating a software solution that would
considered solar                          alternative to nonrenewable options such as      support remote, online estimates through the
installations before                      gas and coal. Its mission is to make solar       use of aerial imagery and a mapping
                                          energy available to every homeowner who          technologies that offered superior visual
because of the                            wants to make a wise investment and have a       detail and technical functionality to remotely
traditional time and                      positive environmental impact, but to do so it   capture the data needed to calculate sun
                                          must revolutionize the market. In the United     exposure.
costs involved in on-site                 States, for example, solar power currently
estimates.‖                               provides less than 1 percent of the nation‘s     Solution
                                          energy needs. ―There are only about a million    From February through April 2008, the
Danny Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer,   solar installations on earth. And we want to     company investigated several products to
Sungevity                                 make it a half billion by 2054,‖ says Danny      integrate with the solution it was building,
                                          Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of Sungevity.   including Microsoft® Virtual Earth™ online
                                          ―We want to make it simple and efficient for     mapping technology. ―Virtual Earth was the
                                          any homeowner with a view of the sun to go       only product with superior visual detail that
                                          solar.‖                                          we found that offered oblique-angle imagery
                                                                                           with its bird‘s eye view, which our solution
                                          One challenge is that most residential solar     uses for sizing roofs,‖ says Kennedy. The
                                          energy installations are expensive, thanks in    company also preferred the technical support
                                          part to a labor-intensive and time-consuming     options and image quality and geographical
                                          estimate process. Traditionally, solar energy    coverage that come with Virtual Earth.
                                          companies send a crew to a prospective
                                          customer‘s home to climb onto the roof and       Once Sungevity designed the estimate
                                          use a tape measure, a protractor, and a          solution, which is based on a customer
                                          compass to capture the necessary four            relationship management (CRM) system
                                          measurements of its installable area—length,     customized for the solar industry,
                                          width, pitch (angle), and azimuth                development took only four weeks. Sungevity
                                          (orientation)—needed to calculate a home‘s       subcontracted to Australian Web
                                          sun exposure. This process requires investing    development company Extro Interactive to
                                          in trucks, qualified crews, and liability        build the solution, which has been accessible
                                          insurance; managing estimate appointments;       on Sungevity‘s Web site since Earth Day, on
                                          and spending time driving to customers‘          April 22, 2008.
                                          homes. On average in the industry, it takes
                                          three weeks to set up a visit during working     Customers in the San Francisco Bay area who
                                          hours when customers are at home, and            are interested in a quote can type in their
                                          another week to produce an estimate—and          street address, select an aerial view of their
                                          only one in ten estimates results in a sale.     roof, provide contact information and
                                          When Kennedy founded Sungevity, he was           (optional) yearly energy consumption figures,
                                          determined to create a new business model        and request a quote. Sungevity‘s tool
                                          that avoids this overhead by instead             captures the house‘s global positioning (GP)
                                          performing only remote estimates.                coordinates through Microsoft MapPoint®
                                                                                           2006 mapping software, and the company
                                                                                           uses this data to capture the four
―Virtual Earth was the                    measurements of the installable area with a         Benefits
                                          sizing tool that plugs into Sungevity‘s Web-        Sungevity uses Virtual Earth to make
only product with                         based CRM system and works with the bird‘s          accurate, cost-effective, remote estimates
superior visual detail                    eye view feature in Virtual Earth. The GP           more quickly and affordably than ever before.
                                          coordinates for the four corners of a roof          With its new patent-pending solution, the
that we found that                        indicate where each point is on the surface of      company is opening the solar market to new
offered oblique-angle                     the earth, and how far away each point is           customers and marketing its systems in ways
                                          from the others. Using the sizing tool,             that are unique in the industry.
imagery with its bird‘s                   Sungevity also calculates the house‘s solar
eye view, which our                       potential by relating the GP coordinates with       New Markets and New Ways of Marketing
                                          the path of the sun. Then, they factor in local     The company is using its solution to
solution uses for sizing                  electricity rates and how much shade is             proactively market its products—a first in the
roofs."                                   thrown by trees or other objects to determine       residential solar industry. ―We can mail free
                                          the different sizes and design of solar energy      custom quotes to people in our service area—
Danny Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer,   installations that will work best for each          even those who have never heard of us, or
Sungevity                                 home.                                               may never have considered solar installations
                                                                                              before because of the traditional time and
                                          Usually within 24 hours of receiving a              costs involved in on-site estimates. This isn‘t
                                          customer‘s inquiry and data, Sungevity sends        possible with the industry-standard system of
                                          the customer an e-mail message with a link          manual measurements and estimates,‖ says
                                          to an interactive, online quote, called an          Kennedy. ―Remote estimates add a whole
                                          iQuote. The iQuote contains illustrations of        new dimension to our business.‖
                                          the various sizes and types of solar
                                          installations available to the customer, who        Sungevity aims to expand throughout
                                          can click on each to see what it would look         California by the end of 2008 and then
                                          like installed on the house, along with             nationally and globally.
                                          statistics for each system: cost, payment
                                          options, estimated electricity cost savings         Quick and Cost-Effective Remote Estimates
                                          over 25 years, a list of environmental              The combination of overhead and oblique
                                          benefits, and how much of the customer‘s            views of a house in Virtual Earth makes it
                                          electricity would come from solar power. The        possible for Sungevity to perform estimates
                                          customer can call Sungevity to ask questions        remotely. ―With other earth-mapping
                                          or order a solar system online without ever         products, you don‘t get the multiple views
                                          speaking with a consultant. After signing a         that Virtual Earth offers,‖ says Kennedy. ―Our
                                          paper contract, the customer can select a           solution offers push-button automation—
                                          date for a home visit and an installation date.     pretty cool stuff. We don‘t need protractors
                                                                                              and tape measures anymore.‖
                                          Sungevity has Macintosh personal computers
                                          on-site that its engineers use to access the        Remote, automated quotes cut most of the
                                          estimate solution and run the company‘s             time, expense, and liability of formulating
                                          other line-of-business applications. For its off-   estimates. Kennedy says, ―Now, engineers
                                          site services, such as running its Web site,        don‘t have to climb onto customers‘ rooftops
                                          Sungevity uses a dedicated hosting firm             to create estimates, which means that many
                                          based in San Francisco, California.                 fewer chances of our people falling off a
For More Information                                            In the five months the solution has been live,   Microsoft Virtual Earth
For more information about Microsoft                            the company has provided more than 2,000         The Microsoft Virtual Earth platform is an
products and services, call the Microsoft                       quotes. Sungevity has reduced the cost of a      integrated set of services providing quality
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                          solar system by about 10 percent, and the        geospatial data, rich imagery, cutting edge
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                             cost of performing estimates by 80 percent.      technology, and dependable performance
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-                         Kennedy notes, ―It‘s hard to calculate the       that helps organizations visualize data and
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-                        exact dollar benefits of this solution because   provide immersive end-user experiences.
hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone                      it‘s a ‗disruptive‘ technology—it changes the    With ongoing investments in innovation
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in                         entire game. But I can say that the success of   driven by customer feedback, the Virtual
the United States or (905) 568-9641 in                          our business is enabled by our Virtual Earth–    Earth platform continues to offer new map
Canada. Outside the 50 United States and                        based solution.‖                                 detail and imagery, feature enhancements,
Canada, please contact your local                                                                                and robust platform capabilities.
Microsoft subsidiary. To access information
using the World Wide Web, go to:                                                                                 For more information, visit                                                                                      

For more information about Extro
Interactive products and services, visit the
Web site at:

For more information about Sungevity
products and services visit the Web site at:

                                                                 Software and Services

                                                                  Services
                                                                   -Microsoft Virtual Earth
                                                                   -Microsoft MapPoint 2006
                                                                  Hardware
                                                                   -Macintosh personal computers

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT

Document published October 2008

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