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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

PTC Named IoT Innovator of the Year At CES 2016

January 7th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

This week PTC received the IoT Innovation Vendor of the Year Award from marketing analytics and consulting firm Compass Intelligence at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Compass Intelligence Annual Awards recognize the best mobile computing, wireless data communications, Internet of Things, and eco-friendly products and services offered in the market during the past year.

The IoT Innovation Vendor of the Year Award is part of the A-List in M2M/IoT awards category and is voted on by more than 60 industry-leading press and analysts based upon a range of criteria, including vision, strategy, leadership, and financial success.

In the view of the award presenting organization PTC has become a leading provider of technology that enables its customers to realize the value inherent in the Internet of Things. As well, in their opinion, PTC’s CEO, Jim Heppelmann, has become a major thought leader, having coauthored two seminal HBR articles that describe the implications of the IoT and offer companies a blueprint to get started on their own IoT journeys.

“We’re honored to receive this award,” said Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC. “From thought leadership to technology to partnerships, PTC is focused on empowering its customers with tools and solutions that capitalize on the Internet of Things – and bridging the digital and physical worlds to fundamentally transform the way we create, operate, and service products and systems.”

“PTC has emerged as an IoT powerhouse,” stated Keith Robinson, Director of M2M & IoT Research & Consulting, Compass Intelligence. “Its big vision, robust tech stack, and market success make the company a clear winner. I project that PTC and its ThingWorx IoT business unit will continue its strong growth trajectory in 2016 with superior technology and leadership.”

This award signals the fact that IoT has become much bigger than just a fad. Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 in Boston last summer, IoT is a big part of the collective future for PTC, and for all of us.

It’s pretty obvious that the acquisition of ThingWorx by PTC was the crux of the entire notion of IoT, not only for integration into PTC’s world, but also in the bigger IoT universe. What was at first an enigma when PTC acquired ThingWorx is becoming more clear for the future direction of PTC.

Today there is no standard definition for an IoT platform, but PTC is at the forefront for establishing that definition and expanding the IoT marketplace far from its current place in business and in life.

So what does IoT really mean? I don’t know either because it’s evolving and all participating vendors define it so that it best accommodates what they offer. In other words, until standards are established, the definition will continue to evolve. I will admit, however, that PTC currently has a leg up on virtually all of the competition for IoT in its traditional design, engineering, and manufacturing space.

However, a standard definition is in the works, and IoT generally refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999, although the concept has been around since 1991, so it’s not exactly brand new.

According to PTC, the Internet of Things has the potential to create trillions of dollars of new economic value in the coming decade. To capture this value, manufacturers will rely on new applications that enable the creation of smart, connected products, thus PTC’s interest and commitment, as shown in the video below.

PTC’s Vision for Smart, Connected Products

Ironically, on May 4, 2015, The Wall Street Journal listed LiveWorx 2015 as one of the major events taking place during that week, but also ran a story that day entitled, “Dumb ‘Smart’ Gadgets: The Bubble Set to Burst,” by Christopher Mims. Among other things, he postulates is “One thing smart objects are definitely good for is surveillance of their users.” I agree, and think a growing number of us will become more concerned being under constant surveillance. That said, though, is there much we can really do about it? To a degree, yes; but to a larger degree, probably not, unless you’re willing to pay for everything with cash, call people from pay phones that accept coins, and get around by walking and biking. I doubt few of us will end up doing that, but it does make you think, doesn’t it?

So, what does all this mean for the future of PTC?

For one, in the past couple of years the company has spent a good deal of money (well over $500 million) on IoT by acquiring companies and integrating their IoT capabilities into the PTC ecosystem. A lot has been accomplished, but a lot more still needs to be done. IoT is a diversification and extension of PTC’s CAD, CAM, and PLM business that currently none of its competitors engage in, putting PTC in a unique and enviable position.

PTC realizes that “things” have evolved from just 3D objects to being smart and connected. These “things” are what PTC emphasizes in its IoT approach, as the new reality is a hybrid of the physical and digital — distinct, but inseparable. The “thing” and customers’ roles are interchangeable, where one, the other, or both can act as the sensor. IoT also provides great potential for analytics and predictive behavior of products. This new reality comes down to technology platforms and enterprise applications that can provide business transformation, opportunities, and value.

Is PTC unique in this push for IoT? Not exactly. Just about any industry you can name is showing increasing interest — hardware and software vendors, machine and medical device manufacturers — the list goes on and on, and we’re just in the initial phases of IoT platforms, but PTC is ahead of the curve on many fronts. Also, not to be left out, the CEO of networking giant, Cisco, Chuck Robbins, said one of his major goals as CEO was to make Cisco the No. 1 information-technology company in the world, partly by helping to connect all kinds of business and consumer devices. Needless to say, PTC is not alone on the IoT frontier.

Admittedly, as we’ve said in the past, PTC seems to betting the farm on the success of its IoT initiative. Win, lose, or draw, this IoT initiative ultimately will be PTC’s CEO, Jim Heppelmann’s legacy. It’s still too early to tell what the eventual outcome will be for IoT, from either PTC’s perspective or the larger digital universe, but PTC continues to get the parts aligned for success. Now and for the foreseeable future PTC is very well positioned in IoT.

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