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May 16, 2023
“Every disruption creates new opportunities and right now we find ourselves in one of the greatest periods of change for industrial companies that I can recall.”
That’s how PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann opened his keynote presentation at LiveWorx 2023 Tuesday, the first time the event was held in person in four years.
In 2019, digital transformation was simpler; it meant getting to market faster, with lower cost and higher quality, according to Heppelmann. But now, there's a push to reshore, to make products more intelligent, factories more efficient, to build more resilient supply chains and for companies and products to be more sustainable and compliant and to accelerate growth by complementing products with services.
Digital transformation is key to all of that and the focus of LiveWorx 2023 is on how PTC and its ecosystem of partners can help businesses transform how they do business. From the need for speed in development cycles to staying informed with the right data needed to make manufacturing decisions to compliance issues and agile product development, nothing was off topic in Heppelmann’s presentation.
PTC has invested more than $3 billion in organic development and acquisitions to help organizations capitalize on the opportunities Heppelmann outlined Tuesday.
PTC’s acquisition of Onshape and then Arena, followed by the launch of its broader software as a service strategy, PTC has taken on a pioneering role to bring its industry to the SaaS era.
“We've doubled down in support of the role software plays in manufactured products with our code beamer acquisition,” Heppelmann said. “We've acquired Servicemax and positioned it as the core of the world's most powerful solution for efficiently servicing the products that you make.”
Heppelmann added that these large moves didn’t distract from PTC’s core business, rather they reinforced it.
“Creo and Windchill have prospered while ThingWorx Kepware and Vuforia have matured into powerful business solutions that tap into the digital thread,” he said. “Every year since I last stood on this stage Creo’s growth rate has surpassed that of all other major CAD systems. Meanwhile, Windchill’s explosive growth rate has propelled PTC into the PLM category leadership position with a portfolio that's growing double the rate of our big PLM competitors.”
That momentum has helped propel PTC to rank among the fastest growing and most profitable companies in the industry, Heppelmann said.
“We are helping the leading-edge industrial companies to move with greater speed and agility to create a digital thread across the full product life cycle, so they can be more efficient, sustainable and compliant,” Heppelmann said. “And to tackle the ultimate transformation by moving to SaaS.”
“Companies that have the need for speed trump all else,” he said. Those are the “fast clock companies” pioneering new market opportunities like startups getting their first killer product idea off the ground or anybody in fast moving markets that cannot tolerate any process that slows them down.
“There isn't a one-size-fits-all description for companies in this category,” he said.
From companies with short development cycles to stay ahead of market trends, to those who have much of their value captured in software and want to develop it quickly and update it regularly to those creating cool new high-tech products that are highly dependent on electronics, it’s the retail space where a big chunk of this audience is represented.
Speed is critically important to PTC’s retail customers, Heppelmann said, but the goal is not simply to get products to market sooner, instead, they want to start as late as possible and be done just in time for the upcoming season.
The just-in-time development approach helps brands ensure new products align with the latest trends and styles each season. Starting later takes much of the guesswork out of the equation, he said.
“Digital transformation across the entire waterfront of product development and supply chain is critical because in retail to succeed, brands need to marry very short product development cycles with flexible and nimble supply chains,” Heppelmann said. “The required tools that digitize the entire product development process, making it very easy to collaborate with existing suppliers or to onboard new ones to get their new products to market just in time. That's what our window flex PLM software is all about.”
While sustainability and compliance are overarching strategies that traverse PTC’s entire product portfolio, software as a service or SaaS is a big overarching strategy for PTC
Heppelmann said while customers love the business value, most don't love all the care and feeding technology requires. They just want to use the software.
“SaaS isn't just easier,” he said. “It provides important new benefits still. It's a much faster way to get started because the system is already up and running. You're always on the latest version, no upgrades or patches ever again.”
Calling it “very democratic” because any new employee or supplier can participate with no hardware and software preconditions, SaaS takes collaboration to the next level because companies can all work on the same data at the same time. Rather than checking out and working privately on the latest data.
“We made that realization after the last LiveWorx,” Heppelmann said. “When we concluded that the time had arrived, our industry's future was clearly going to be SaaS that led us to acquire Onshape in 2019 and to acquire Arena a year later. Onshape and Arena are our best examples of the power of SaaS, poster children for how SaaS should be done.”
Editor, IoT World Today, IoT World Today
Liz Hughes is an award-winning digital media editor with more than two decades of experience in newspaper, magazine and online media industries.
A proven digital media strategist and editor, Liz has produced content and offered editorial support and leadership for a variety of web publications, including Fast Company, NBC Boston, Street Fight, QuinStreet, WTWH Media, AOL/Patch Media and Design News.
A skilled social media strategist experienced in developing and maintaining an audience across multiple platforms and brands, Liz also enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise to help businesses small and large.
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