PTC pushes Internet of Things at its European user event

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This year’s PTC Live Stuttgart, which took place on 18-19 November 2014 at the ICS in Stuttgart, saw an Internet of Things co-located event: LiveWorx Europe

PTC is the only CAD vendor that really seems to be shouting about the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s certainly making a loud noise with the recent $300 million investment of two IoT related companies – ThingWorx and Axeda.

At PTC Live Global 2014 held earlier this year in Boston, PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann kicked off the event by introducing IoT and discussed the company’s strategy in this area (read the article here, which also explains what IoT is). This event featured an IoT focussed conference stream called LiveWorx.

At its European user conference – PTC Live Stuttgart – which took place earlier this week, the second LiveWorx event took place. Over two days, the packed agenda saw PTC employees, customers, researchers, analysts and thought leaders talk about the benefits and business value that IoT can deliver.
The opening keynotes at PTC Live Stuttgart were delivered by three members of the PTC executive team who had flown over from PTC’s HQ in Boston – Rob Gremley, Brian Shepherd and Mike Campbell.

Gremley, whose role at PTC is to look after the company’s IoT and Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) segments, kicked things off.

He revealed some impressive stats that PTC discovered during its two year research into IoT and ‘smart, connected products’.


For example, €5 trillion of economic value can be reached annually through IoT, which makes it a major technological wave of innovation – bigger than 3D printing.

Another example is that by 2035 there will be one trillion products connected to the internet.

By combining the technology of Axeda and ThingWorx, PTC provides customers with an IoT platform that enables them to develop these smart products that are connected to the internet.


Video from PTC describing how a smart, connected world will transform how manufacturers create and exchange value with customers

But IoT will also have an effect on other areas of PTC’s business. For instance, it will drive new capabilities in CAD strategy, as Mike Campbell, who is responsible for the CAD segment at PTC, discussed during his keynote. He said that early next year PTC will release CAD products that will incorporate new capabilities to help users build smart, connected products.

“We have a vision to make PTC the choice of tool for the design and validation of smart, connected products,” said Campbell.

“Imagine that data from these products could be streamed straight into the CAD environment to help engineers improve the design of them.”

New product lifecycle management (PLM) products will also be released early next year because as Brian Shepherd, executive vice president of the extended PLM segment at PTC, revealed during his keynote, “I think IoT and the use of real world data will change the nature of PLM.”

From these keynote sessions, one take away about the effect IoT will have on product development companies and manufacturers is that there will be a shift in the business model from that of selling products to selling services. Examples of this product-as-a-service model can be seen below from customers that have used IoT platforms such as ThingWorx.

November’s Harvard Business Review includes a large feature on IoT, which includes a 20 page article co-written by PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann

By the way, if you want to get your teeth into IoT and you have some time to spare, Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Jim Heppelmann, co-wrote a 20 page article How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Competition in the November 2014 edition of the Harvard Business Review.

You can read it here. There are also two further IoT articles in the edition worth a read too on digital ubiquity and big data.

There were some engaging speakers at LiveWorx in Stuttgart who provided case studies as to how they have gone about creating smart, connected products.

One was German start-up StreetScooter, which was founded in 2010 to create a fleet of electric vans for mail and parcel delivery for Deutsche Post DHL.

Having used PTC’s CAD and PLM tools to create the modular vehicle architecture, it then used ThingWorx in what it calls a disruptive network approach.

The StreetScooter story – a good example of a company utilising IoT solutions to disrupt the traditional fleet transport market

Once implemented, this IoT solution has allowed StreetScooter to monitor the information from the vehicles, of which there are currently 150 on the road, analyse and visualise the data as it arrives, create reports based on the information coming from the vehicles and remotely change the vehicle’s settings to respond to maintenance and performance issues.

AquamatiX understands that smarter IT systems are key to more efficient operational management and optimisation of water and wastewater infrastructure

An interesting UK example was given by Laurie Reynolds, managing director of Aquamatix, who has pioneered new business models in water management powered by ThingWorx.

Being a water engineer, Reynolds knows the extent of the world’s water criss and the amount of water that is wasted due to leaking pipes just in the UK, for instance.

With sensors installed on the pipes an awful lot can be understood and so three years ago he partnered with ThingWorx to develop WaterWorx – a completely different approach to the way real-time network management solutions are designed and delivered which is a lot faster, lower cost and based on open standards. 

However, as much as PTC is depicting IoT to be something new, it really isn’t and has existed under the guise of M2M (machine to machine) for a number of years.

During his talk, Richard Castle, head of business development EMEA at Jasper, explained how through its cloud-based platforms for IoT it has helped many companies deploy and manage connected devices globally including ABB, Sony, Ford and Garmin.

“With the greatest respect,” said Castle, “a lot of IoT that has been talked about at this conference is not new, Jasper has been in business ten years.

“But what is changing now is the commercial availability and deployment of IoT technology. We’ve seen enormous growth over the last two years with the price of sensors coming down, for instance. So the pace of adoption will increase dramatically.”

So, the concluding message from this LiveWorx event in Stuttgart is that we are in a new era where companies can become more agile, turn greater profits, enhance customer relationships, and deliver new services. But this all means you have to be willing to change.

So, I’ll leave you with a slide that Mark Orsborn of Salesforce showed during his presentation:

From two user events that incorporated a LiveWorx co-located event, next year PTC will be staging a solely IoT focussed conference in Boston from 5-7 May. With over 1,200 attendees expected, PTC are dubbing it “the IoT event of the year.” More info on this soon!

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