When you attend a conference like PTC LiveWorx, you know it's going to be big. Over 6,000 attendees from around the world, 230 breakout sessions, and over 100 demos and prototypes. The most significant messages of the conference were arguably the benefits of cross company collaboration and partnerships along with the growing value in Augmented Reality and the Connected Industry.While the event primarily targeted private sector influencers, many of the lessons and concepts explored at the show have application across sectors. The importance of partnerships, stakeholder buy-in, strong leadership and clear planning were mentioned multiple times.
AR (and Mixed Reality) was out in force
The conference opened with a key note by PTC CEO Jim Hepplemann and guests. PTC announced it's third acquisition in the augmented reality space with it's acquisition of Waypoint Labs, a startup that enables trainers to build a three-dimensional set of instructions for workers in real-time using an AR headset. In a fascinating live demo, a HoloLens-wearing lab worker walked through the process of replacing equipment on a blood analyzer machine, following directions visualized through the glasses.
When the worker came into difficulty, they pressed a help button, called an expert, and the two talked through the issue using Vuforia Chalk to draw circles and arrows seemingly in the air where the parts should go. Similar AR demos showcased the recording of training steps as a worker moves through a process. A trainee would then walk through that immersive experience with the capability to see live programming itself on the machine.
Another demonstration revealed how by working collaboratively ANSYS and PTC will deliver ANSYS Discovery Live real-time simulation within PTC’s Creo 3D CAD software. The combined solution will be sold by PTC as part of the Creo product suite, offering customers a unified modeling and simulation environment, removing the boundaries between CAD and simulation. This insight will enable design engineers to create higher quality products while reducing product and development costs.
In another session, Robert Schmid, Chief IoT Technologist at Deloitte, brought a factory floor to life on the LiveWorx stage in a display rubber ducks. He used these to demonstrate how pairing industrial assets and systems with pre-configured turnkey IoT accelerators can enable a digital supply network and unlock measurable value across an entire production line in weeks.
Heppelmann later revealed to the media that PTC's AR business represents about $20 million in revenue with a 100 percent growth rate. He said Vuforia Engine, the core technology PTC had acquired from Qualcomm, now represents a minority of the AR business while PTC's enterprise solutions, like Vuforia Studio and View, bring in the most sales. "I'm very pleased with the AR business. It's early, but I wouldn't trade places with anybody. Not for anything" he said.
The necessity of partnerships
The event was hot on the heels of the announcement that Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC and the theme of partnerships and collaboration to forward innovation was a key theme throughout. Notable partnerships included Microsoft, ANSYS, Hunter Fan and Sinfonia. Microsoft VP of IoT and Mixed Reality Rodney Clark detailed their partnership with PTC, telling the audience it takes 20 to 25 partners to drive an IoT customer solution from end-to-end.
The presence of companies such as Accenture Inc., Infosys Inc. and Deloitte LLP aptly demonstrated that innovation is a collaborative effort.
Hepplemann later explained in a discussion with the attending media: "I think we took a fresh look at our partner ecosystem and said, we have some work to do. In terms of big strategic partners, we didn’t have many. The progress we’ve made on these strategic partnerships is really an example of saying, it’s a big world out there. We need some force multipliers to help us really win."
But perhaps Kipman's best comment was when he asked the audience “Imagine for a minute what we could accomplish as a species if it didn’t matter who got credit for it?