Last week in Boston (MA), PTC provided press and analysts with significantly more flesh to their product bones in their integrated CAD, PLM, SLM, Internet of Things (IoT) and Augmented Reality (AR) product lines. Although many press and analysts were there in person, the event was also livestreamed to a wider (14,000+) global audience.
Those of us in the technology world know how difficult it is to integrate acquired technologies. So, first off, I applaud PTC for the speed at which they’ve accomplished their first integrations. Of course it’s only as customers start to use PTC’s (integrated) solution sets in anger that we’ll get feedback on their true form and value, but their (and their partners) demonstrations looked impressive.
Jim Heppelmann, PTC’s president and chief executive officer’s announcement that “Service is the killer app for the IoT”. PTC estimate a $3.7Bn software opportunity in Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) software and services, and they intend to be a IT leader in this domain. Their investments in Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) (Servigistics), IoT (ThingWorx, Axeda, ColdLight and Kepware) and Augmented Reality (Vuforia) play well to this objective. That’s not to say that their CAD, PLM and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) business in any way assume a back seat. These too are important part of the their SLM journey.
And what to the larger IoT opportunity? Again, to quote Heppelmann. “IoT is the defining technology of this time”. I tend to agree. Much of the IT involved in (software, electronics and physical) design, engineering, manufacturing and service is evolving, of course. But to me, the IoT delivers an adrenalin shot to businesses and products alike. It makes products and (their) IoT connected services more valued and more useful to users. And for companies, it injects smarter, more connected capabilities with which to deliver innovative products and services to their customers. Importantly, it improves performance (and helps reduce risk) in their manufacturing, process, supply and service operations.
So what did PTC announce that helps customers take advantage of the IoT ‘adrenaline shot’? For one, a unified vision that allows customers to “rethink how we conceive, create, operate, service, and make money from products”. Secondly, some new products/capabilities which included:
VuMark : A customisable marker that integrates augmented reality with identification beyond that of existing bar and QR codes. This is potentially a very big thing. Especially if it becomes an accepted (hopefully open) standard.
ThingX : A platform for IoT product development, expanding on the existing ThingWorx IoT platform. First deliverables being:
ThingBrowser: An (AR enabled) web browser that provides a unified view of the real, AR and digital worlds. This uses Vuforia’s AR technology and computer vision to deliver some pretty unique visual experiences.
ThingBuilder: A graphical app builder that allows rapid development of IoT and AR apps that embed elements of (perhaps existing) PTC and third party applications (for instance CAD, PLM, ERP or SLM) and other IoT and enterprise services.
ThingServer: Provides a server repository and delivers AR/IoT ‘user experiences’ to be subsequently viewed in the ThingBrowser.
It’s still early days in the IoT world, but it has huge attention from customers, industry and IT suppliers. With immense growth* forecast (by many) over the forthcoming years, those that are at the leading edge stand to gain much from first-mover advantage. PTC intends to be among these leaders. From what I saw in Boston, they seem well equipped to do so.