This blog post provides a summary of IDC Manufacturing Insights' attendance to the recent PTC LiveWorx conference, which took place in Boston May 4-7, 2015.
The recently held PTC LiveWorx conference in Boston provided a backdrop for PTC customers, their technology ecosystem partners, IoT developers, and industry followers to hear the latest developments about the rise of connected products across industries. Perhaps the first notable item about the event was the sheer magnitude of attendees. Compared with last year, when there were roughly 300 attendees, this year there were more than 2,300 attending in person, and nearly 5,000 worldwide counting those that were virtually present for the keynotes through the live streaming of the event. PTC had to make a last-minute venue move to the Hynes Convention Center to accommodate the opening day keynote sessions. Clearly, interest in the Internet of Things has exploded, and PTC was very willing to host such a large gathering of IoT enthusiasts.
During his keynote address, CEO Jim Heppelmann shared how PTC has quickly aligned its resources behind the rise of the Internet of Things, with $500 million in investments over the past two years, including ThingWorx and Axeda, two of the early best-of-breed IoT technology providers. To add to its technology arsenal, PTC announced at LiveWorx 2015 that it had acquired ColdLight, a predictive analytics for IoT technology provider, for $105 million. Heppelmann shared with the audience that adding machine learning and analytics to connected machines and equipment in the field provides connected product owners with the "voice of the product," translating the data coming off the millions of sensors into actionable insights.
This notion of "voice of the product" is one of the more intriguing promises of IoT and connected products within the manufacturing environment. Suddenly, by adding IP connectivity, embedded software, and sensors to physical products, machine and equipment owners can “hear” about a machine’s health and take proactive measures to ensure that the machine is maintained in optimal health for its lifetime. The business benefits are obvious – greater product uptime, fewer disruptions to operations, lower costs from performing repairs and maintenance only as needed.
The challenge for manufacturers is instrumenting their existing products with sensors and building new connected products, tasks that can be overwhelming for traditional equipment manufacturers that now have to become experts in embedded software and “smart” capabilities. My colleague, Jeffrey Hojlo, focuses on how manufacturers need to move toward a modern Product Innovation Platform to accomplish this daunting shift in product development. As Hojlo and IDC Manufacturing Insights envision, the Product Innovation Platform is “is product lifecycle management (PLM), with core engineering processes and design integrated tightly to customer, supplier, and manufacturing, all in a single, digital user interface.” You can read more on this subject here.
PTC’s traditional strengths are in the very space of product lifecycle management (PLM), providing manufacturers with the technology to design, model, manufacture, and service a product throughout its lifecycle. Many industry followers were somewhat surprised by the company’s pivot to IoT, wondering how it fit with PTC’s core technology strengths spanning from product design through service lifecycle management. At PTC LiveWorx, that connection was solidly made, as Heppelmann illustrated the company’s vision for not only using the newly acquired technology to provide the “voice of the product” to manufacturers, but taking it further and using the data captured from the connected products to feed back into the product lifecycle and create a “digital twin” that captures the way the product operates in use and what can be changed to optimize that performance in updates and future product releases.
With the strategy laid out for combining core PTC offerings and newer acquisitions, the next step will be for PTC to complete the assimilation of the newest technologies for IoT and successfully execute on selling “voice of the product” and the “digital twin” to the company’s installed base. Stay tuned for additional insight on PTC’s Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) strategy following our attendance at PTC Live in a few weeks.