VDC recently had the pleasure of attending PTC’s flagship LiveWorx 2016 event, which has become one of the largest and most highly-anticipated IoT conferences in the greater Boston area. The 3-day event took place from Monday June 6th to Wednesday June 8th in the Boston Convention center, and featured a wide range of notable speakers, such as:
Here we will highlight some of the most notable announcements, partnerships, and key themes of the conference.
PTC kicked off the conference by announcing a comprehensive brand refresh, with a new logo for the corporation as a whole, and matching logos for its major product lines: ThingWorx, Creo, Vuforia, and Windchill. According to CEO Jim Heppelman, the new logos emphasize the mix of physical and digital that PTC looks to embrace moving forward.
Key IIoT Partners/Enablers
PTC highlighted four key partners/enablers in its kickoff keynotes: Kepware, HPE, NI, and Amazon.
Kepware creates software that provides communications connectivity to industrial automation environments. PTC was already a major Kepware customer before closing the deal to acquire the ~100 person company for approximately $100m in December 2015. Kepware generated approximately $20m in revenue in FY 2015. The Kepware acquisition doubles-down on PTC’s play in the industrial IoT space by bringing a key developer of industrial connectivity middleware in-house.
PTC ThingWorx will work closely with hardware vendors NI and HPE for sensor and server hardware, respectively, as demonstrated in the above picture of the typical ThingWorx edge server software stack. The larger server form factor will allow for an assortment of ThingWorx-enabled edge analytics that would not have been feasible on lower power legacy monitor and control systems.
Amazon Web Services is by far the largest and most successful compute provider by revenue, so it is no surprise that PTC has decided to focus on integration with AWS IoT over the bevy of IoT message routing services on the market today. PTC brought Mark Relph, Head of Global Business Development at AWS, on stage to talk about the strength of the newly-formed partnership and to outline how AWS IoT will provide a connectivity layer for PTC customers. PTC is also exploring the use of the (currently consumer-facing) Amazon Echo as a HMI layer of sorts, which will add a reporting/alert service on top of the predominantly visual reporting screens, charts, and graphs that the ThingWorx platform uses to track industrial asset health today. Jim Heppelmann clarified that Microsoft Azure and SAP integrations were on the horizon, and that the company is not planning to limit the number of ThingWorx cloud infrastructure partners.
Key Conference Takeaway: The Platform
PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann made the following remark during an analyst conference: “If you look around, you’ll see we have invited competitors to this conference.” Rob Gremley, EVP of Technology Platforms, clarified the intent of these competitors when he stated that “you can’t pick and choose who will build on an open platform,” referring to PTC’s goal of aggregating the best services on top of ThingWorx.
Marshall W. Van Alstyne delivered one of the conference’s most salient presentations on the Platform Revolution, arguing that the economies of scale and the network effects that allowed the Oil, Electricity, Railroad, and Automobile robber barons of the early 20th century to flourish are driving platform consolidation among the current tech giants. The important statistics for platforms like ThingWorx will not be traditional metrics such as revenue or profit, but number of users and engagement. The winning application and services platforms will serve as the best (and only) matching functions for certain markets. Uber: transportation. Amazon/Alibaba: online purchasing. PTC: industrial applications? Interested readers can find a recent version of the presentation slides here.
The line between friend and foe in the IoT cloud platform space is blurring to an untenable degree as cloud conglomerates move away from providing specific hardware and software products, to providing the infrastructure, reach, and distribution networks that traditional vendors will be forced to play on top of. There is perhaps no better example of this transformation than PTC, whose key acquisitions of ThingWorx and Vuforia transformed it from a CAD/PLM software-house into a global leader in the IoT space. PTC’s message to traditional vendors is clear: move aggressively to provide infrastructure, or you will find yourself at the mercy of a new and not-yet-determined generation of platform providers.
View the 2017 IoT & Embedded Technology Research Outline to learn more.