PTC’s SLM Market Strategy – Built Solidly on the Intersection of SLM and the IoT (and Its Partnership with ServiceMax Doesn’t Hurt, Either!)

[With permission; excerpted transcript from an internal PTC Podcast, recorded on October 9, 2015, by Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst, Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM).]

Foundation of PTC’s SLM/IoT Strategy

The most important component of PTC’s evolving strategy is that it is built on a foundation of powerful technology as well as its existing base of more than 28,000 customers. And upon this foundation, PTC provides a full suite of solutions to an expanding global marketplace. As a result, I believe that PTC has been able to leapfrog the competition in a number of ways:

  • First, through the early recognition that the adoption and use of the Internet of Things, or the IoT, will be pervasive and ubiquitous;
  • Second, that it will need to actually guide and help the industry understand the potential of the IoT. And by that, I mean, using a consultative sales approach to tell customers how to begin their IoT journey, as the customers may not actually know their respective needs themselves; and
  • Third, by continuing to build its portfolio of IoT-supported Service Lifecycle Management, or SLM, solutions to provide total support for its global customer base.

However, the success of PTC’s vision will ultimately lie in the execution. That is, its ability to build such an all-encompassing strategy on a solid footing to ensure homogeneity, consistency and, ultimately, acceptance by the global marketplace.

Early on, PTC recognized that the IoT would have the most significant impact on, and fastest adoption in, Service Lifecycle Management (or SLM). In fact, PTC CEO, James Heppelmann has repeatedly said that the first use case for IoT is SLM. Why would a manufacturer/OEM want to embrace an IoT strategy? The answer is to better serve its products – and, by doing so, its customers.

Accordingly, the company took several ground-breaking initiatives to prepare itself – and its customers –through a well-planned, and highly orchestrated, mix of internal development and external acquisitions.

PTC recognized that the pervasive adoption of the IoT in SLM would lead to a succession of sea changes that would ultimately change the industry forever – quickly, completely, and with little tolerance for laggards, late bloomers or followers. Further, based on the extensive analysis of market research conducted both internally, as well as by us at Strategies For GrowthSM, PTC foresaw the coming disruptive change, and took concrete steps to prepare itself, as well as its partners, and its customers.

For example, one shining moment for PTC in the SLM space was its January, 2013, acquisition of Servigisitics.

Acquisitions of Servigistics, ThingWorx and Axeda Systems

The Servigistics acquisition, in retrospect, was a critical component of PTC’s strategy to help manufacturing companies capture the enormous revenue potential in after-market services. It also set the stage for PTC’s vision in building out a technological infrastructure, based on the IoT, to enable these firms to transition to, and realize the big opportunities coming from, an outcome-based services strategy. This is generally referred to as “Servitization”.

Over the past year or so, the main message that the market is hearing from PTC is that it is “extremely serious about the importance of the IoT” – and that it is driven to strengthen its continuing leadership role by integrating the IoT into all aspects of service.

While PTC may have surprised many industry observers by acquiring ThingWorx back in December of 2013, in retrospect, that was the move that propelled PTC into the forefront of the IoT – and all of its numerous lifecycle management applications. The IoT is extremely important, not only to the company’s SLM solutions, but also to its PLM and ALM solutions. This acquisition, more than any other, served to communicate the following two messages to the services community in a big way:

  • First, it solidly positioned PTC as the global leader in each of its respective sectors within the Enterprise Lifecycle Management world (that is, Product/PLM, Service/SLM and Application/ALM, ).
  • Second, it clearly put the global business community on notice that PTC was placing the future of its entire solution portfolio in the connected hands of the IoT.

The acquisition of Axeda Systems in June of 2014, further bolstered PTC’s IoT hold on the marketplace by filling in one of the few remaining gaps in the company’s ability to support connected products, people and technology – that is, the software solution vehicle by which its IoT offerings can make their way into the marketplace.

Together, the ThingWorx and Axeda acquisitions have paved the way for PTC to execute on its pervasive IoT- based strategy. But there’s more to it that finally cements everything together – namely, the partnership that PTC has just forged with ServiceMax in April of this year. I believe this partnership represents the capstone of what provides PTC with the ability to fully support the global SLM marketplace.

The PTC-ServiceMax Partnership

ServiceMax and PTC share a common vision for changing the relationship that companies have with their customers by shifting service delivery from reactive, to proactive and predictive. The two companies have highly complementary technology offerings, and the combination of ServiceMax’s innovative service execution capabilities with the proven technical information, parts management and revenue optimization solutions from PTC stand to be unparalleled in the industry.

PTC’s Heppelmann has said that “Empowering the entire portfolio with Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, will revolutionize service. Service organizations will now be able to capture new business, increase revenue and heighten customer loyalty faster, more effectively and with more ease than ever before.” And I believe that its partnership with ServiceMax will make that happen – not only sooner, but better, as well!

What the partnership brings to PTC and its customers is both a powerful and modern cloud-based field service management solution, fully supported throughout the implementation, management and delivery of services. For ServiceMax, the partnership broadens its portfolio with the addition of service information and parts management functionalities, extends its market reach to a global base of more than 28,000 PTC customers, expands its distribution channels multifold and, most importantly, empowers its entire portfolio through PTC’s state-of-the-art ThingWorx IoT platform.

But, why ServiceMax? ServiceMax was the first complete field service software solution to help companies of all sizes manage workforce scheduling, while also providing solutions for social, portals, and analytics – all delivered in the cloud, to any mobile device. And PTC offers the “book ends” to that critically important scheduling function: that is, technical information on one end; and parts management on the other end.

This combined functionality now allows customers to directly leverage product information to ultimately transform service from a reactive product repair function, to a proactive and predictive customer success function – all IOT-enabled, with the prospects of blowing everyone else out of the water. As a result, the company’s customers can expect to fully realize the promise of predictive service – as well as the lofty goals of Servitization.

With its corporate strategy built on the solid foundation of the intersection of SLM and the IoT, we can only expect PTC – and its customers – to continue to evolve as quickly as the IoT itself!

The Internet of Things (IoT) Is Here to Bring Smarter Technologies to Your Organization!

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not a new “thing” in and of itself, but rather a pervasive resource that may be used to help run your company’s business. What it does is empower you to leverage all of the tools and resources that had previously been available to you; combine them with newer Web-enabled tools, technologies and resources; and help you manage your services organization in real time.

The explosion of practical – and affordable – Cloud technology has made the IoT even more important with respect to its ability to support all things service, mainly due to its ability to offer the same levels of support to any and all services organizations, regardless of type, size, vertical or geographic coverage.

In fact, the results from Strategies For Growth’s (SFG) 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey clearly show that the global business community is experiencing a “sea change” in the way services are being packaged, delivered, utilized, monitored and managed, and that services organizations prefer Cloud-based delivery by a margin of nearly three-to-one – and growing!

When you think about it, your company is in business for three main reasons: first, to Mobilize your products, services and acquired knowledge to, in turn, enable your customers to discover, select, use and share your products and services by providing relevant information, at just the right time.

Second, and possibly even more important in today’s world, is the ability to Transform the customer experience, i.e., to make it better by simplifying customer interactions and delivering better value and utility throughout the entire customer experience lifecycle.

And, third, relating directly to the bottom line, Monetizing the opportunities for growing revenue and profitability through meaningful metrics, like realizing higher revenue per customer by reducing churn, increasing repeat purchases, and growing incremental sales of related products and services.

However there are many other aspects to also consider within each of the components of Mobilize, Transform and Monetize; namely,

  • Offering customers an enhanced ability to effectively connect, engage and help them on a personalized basis, wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, and with the end result of delivering a personalized and optimized customer experience.
  • Personalizing and socializing every customer touch-point to delight customers by saving them time, money and effort; making customer engagement fun and rewarding, using proven gamification models such as points, leader boards, and badges; and increasing customer conversion, loyalty, referenceability and retention ratings through a customer-centric approach.
  • Up-selling, cross-selling and re-selling products and services utilizing the knowledge gained from capturing these customer insights; and realizing greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) for your existing customer base, while lowering the cost of customer acquisition via better customer ratings, reviews and advocacy.

This is where the IoT comes in – as the facilitator to the ability of the organization to connect, engage and help customers, resulting ultimately in a more effective way to acquire, delight and retain customers.

[Click here to read the entire article, compliments of m-ize, the company that directly connects customers and extended enterprise with brands, enabling easier access to products, knowledge, and services.]

The Acquisition of Axeda Makes Things Work for PTC

On July 23, 2014, PTC, the Needham, Massachusetts-based provider of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) and related offerings announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Axeda Corporation, a pioneer in the development of solutions to securely connect machines and sensors to the cloud. PTC will pay approximately $170 million in cash for the company.

This follows, by only seven months, PTC’s acquisition of ThingWorx, developer of the leading Internet of Things (IoT) rapid application platform, for approximately $112 million in cash. Together, these two acquisitions now firmly position PTC as the global leader in Enterprise Lifecycle Management (ELM) services through its wide range of offerings supporting both the Product and Service sides of the equation.

In a global services market increasingly being characterized as ‘connected’ (i.e., via the IoT), this acquisition makes a great deal of sense for PTC, as Axeda’s offerings complete (i.e., at least temporarily) the ‘hat trick’ of resources that PTC now has in its arsenal that allows it to support all facets of the enterprise manufacturing sector that it targets as customers.

PTC’s Leadership in the SLM Space

PTC historically has been a global leader in the PLM segment, competing head-to-head against companies including Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes and Siemens PLM, among others. Its acquisition of Servigistics in August 2012, rocked the SLM world as one of its principal vendors was ‘swallowed up’ by an unknown (i.e., to the SLM market) company on a near-unexpected basis.

The acquisition, in retrospect, was a critical component in PTC’s strategy to help manufacturing companies capture the enormous revenue potential in after-market services. It also set the stage for PTC’s vision in building out a technological infrastructure to enable these firms to transition to (and realize the big opportunities in) an outcome-based services strategy.

Other prior acquisitions, made by either the acquiring or the acquired company, have provided added depth to PTC’s current global Product- and Service-focused suite of offerings that also features Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Computer-Aided Design (CAD), among others. Most notably, these included PTC’s acquisition of 4CS, a leader in contract and warranty management solutions, in September 2011; Enigma, a developer of software that aggregates and delivers technical content in aftermarket service environments, in July 2013; and Atego, a UK-based developer of model-based systems and software engineering applications, just a month ago.

Prior to its acquisition by PTC, Servigistics had also just recently acquired MCA Solutions, a best-of-breed provider of service parts optimization solutions, in March 2012 – a good two-to-three years following its acquisitions of Click Commerce (2009) and Kaidara (2010).

However, once all of these acquired resources were housed under a single roof (i.e., PTC’s), the company surprised many in the industry by going after – and buying – ThingWorx, the up-and-comer platform provider that was taking the explosive IoT world by storm. This acquisition, more than any other, communicated the following two messages to the services community in a big way:

  • First, it solidly positioned PTC as the global leader in each of its respective sectors within the Enterprise Lifecycle Management (ELM) world (i.e., but let’s not forget about Cisco Systems!); and
  • Second, it clearly put the global business community on notice that PTC was placing the future of its entire portfolio in the connected hands of the IoT.

This latest acquisition of Axeda Systems further bolsters PTC’s IoT hold on the marketplace by filling in one of the few remaining gaps in the company’s support of connected products, people and things – that is, the software solution vehicle by which its IoT offerings can finally make their way into the market.

Focus on a Powerful IoT Strategy

Axeda bills itself as a provider of “the most advanced cloud-based service and software for managing connected products and machines and implementing innovative Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.” Its customers use the Axeda Machine Cloud™ “to turn machine data into valuable information, to build and run innovative M2M and IoT applications, and to optimize business processes by integrating machine data.”

The acquisition of Axeda also brings far more to the table than just its M2M offerings and existing customer base – it also instills a more familiar and ‘warm and fuzzy’ feel to the expanding PTC portfolio of IoT-based offerings. For example, most service managers in the SLM market would find it much easier to describe and explain the Axeda offerings than they would the ThingWorx platform offerings.

M2M has been around much longer than IoT and, as such, represents a more familiar topic for them to explain, explore and wrap their brain around. IoT – and, for that matter, ThingWorx, on the other hand – represents a much more complex, broadly-defined and to some, nebulous, platform-based technology that can be much more difficult to understand. Historically, SLM managers have had a far clearer understanding of the solutions they use than the platforms they run on (e.g., decisions that are typically made by their respective IT departments).

According to PTC, “Axeda’s technology innovation, extensive customer base, and powerful partnerships directly complement the PTC ThingWorx business, and will accelerate PTC’s ability to deliver best-in-class solutions across the entire Internet of Things technology stack.” The two companies expect the transaction to be completed in PTC’s fiscal Q4 2014.

Why Axeda?

James E. Heppelmann, PTC’s President, Chief Executive Officer & Director, describes Axeda as “a leading brand today in the IoT market and an almost perfect fit to PTC in terms of what they contribute as compared to what we already have. When we factor in the scale that we will gain from Axeda in terms of technology, employees and IoT expertise, customers, partners and revenue, we believe that this acquisition will reinforce PTC’s clear leadership position in this dynamic new world of smart connected products in the Internet of Things.”

In his statement, Heppelmann cites what most of the industry would agree are the top reasons behind the company’s acquisition of the Foxboro, Massachusetts-based M2M connectivity pioneer, namely:

  • Technology – Axeda had been a leader in the M2M space for the better part of the last two decades, and was a pioneer in the development of the technology, ultimately positioning itself as the global leader in Device Relationship Management, or DRM (i.e., while riding on the wave of Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, for most of that period).
  • Employees – At the time of its acquisition, Axeda will have approximately 160 employees, primarily located in the United States and, as such, represented far more personnel than that acquired by PTC as a result of the ThingWorx acquisition. When the Axeda deal closes (i.e., in just a few weeks) PTC’s total IoT organization will increase to more than 250 people, virtually overnight.
  • IoT Expertise – Axeda is an acknowledged innovator in the IoT technology market, providing its long-time customers with “secure connectivity, and the ability to leverage machine data to create new business value” as “critical components of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology stack.”
  • Customers – Axeda currently counts more than 150 customers on its books, “processing hundreds of millions of machine messages daily across multiple industry sectors.”
  • Partner Base – Axeda boasts a “broad partner ecosystem” that includes leading mobile network operators (AT&T, Bell, Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone); edge device and design-in device makers (Cisco, Intel, Lantronix, Microsoft); systems integrators (Ericsson, Genpact, Tata Consultancy, Wipro); and business systems/ analytics providers (IBM/Cognos, Oracle, SalesForce.com, SAP, ServiceMax), in addition to its ‘new’ internal PTC and Servigistics resources); the company’s technology leadership has also led to several strategic OEM agreements with other leading IoT technology and solution providers.
  • Revenue – The Axeda acquisition is expected to add US$25 million to US$30 million of revenue to PTC in its FY’15.

Need for New Pricing and Deployment Models

The acquisition of Axeda, however, will also likely lead to some restructuring – or, at least, rethinking – about the pricing model for the company’s offerings. For example, PTC’s (and Servigistics’) historical pricing schedules have essentially been built on a perpetual license platform. The ThingWorx model, on the other hand, has developed its pricing model exclusively on a subscription basis.

The Axeda pricing model may ultimately serve as a ’normalizer’ for future pricing, as its joint Axeda-ThingWorx solutions will most likely require “some upfront cost, but then scale typically according to the number of connected devices.” In other words, PTC’s future solution pricing will tend to “scale with the number of devices” involved or, possibly, with the number of users (i.e., the more users, and the more devices, the more the cost of the system).

Research conducted by Strategies For Growth (SFG) confirms that the SLM market (1) is moving more toward a preference for a Cloud-based delivery system for its SLM solutions (i.e., by a ratio of greater than two-to-one over Premise-based), and (2) prefers a subscription pricing model over a perpetual license model by roughly the same ratio.

SLM and IoT: The Strategic Intersection

One other factor that Heppelmann only alluded to in his statements may also be of critical importance to the prospects for success of the market’s acceptance – and adoption – of the broader IoT technology; that is, that Axeda is a longer-tenured, better-known quantity in the global services community than either the term, ‘Internet of Things’, or the brand name, ThingWorx. As such, it may ultimately serve as an easier ‘selling point’ for PTC in promoting its IoT technology to the global services community – they already know the company, they ‘get’ the technology, they’ve already seen them at remote services trade shows and conferences, and they understand the rationale behind why PTC has targeted it as an acquisition candidate. This was not so much the case in the market’s perception of the acquisition of ThingWorx – and its IoT platform – just this past December.

Heppelmann also acknowledges that, “On the strategic side, we’re very pleased to announce the Axeda acquisition. With one foot in the Internet of Things, or IoT, world and the other foot in Service Lifecycle Management or SLM world, Axeda is a great complement to both ThingWorx and PTC.” We agree that the positioning of Axeda, surrounded by the PTC/Servigistics SLM offerings, and the ThingWorx IoT platform, will be well accepted by the SLM market as a whole.

Heppelmann goes on to say that, “The Axeda deal will be synergistic for us on multiple levels. Because we don’t really have a pre-established fiscal year 2015 financial baseline to compare against, it’s hard to say in a meaningful way how many pennies of accretion it might add, but I can tell you, first, that there is a meaningful cross-sell opportunity, because our research indicates that Axeda customers generally love ThingWorx and vice versa.”

Smart, Connected People, Products and Technology – The PTC Strategy

Thus, the acquisition benefits both PTC and the existing Axeda customer base with a strong market reputation and positioning aspect as well. In fact, Heppelmann adds that, “In less than a year, PTC has quickly scaled to a position of leadership in helping manufacturers seize the opportunity presented by a smart, connected world,” and that “We believe the combination of ThingWorx, Axeda and our existing SLM and PLM solution portfolio, will establish PTC as the only provider of true closed-loop lifecycle management solutions for the Internet of Things.” As such, he continues, “PTC intends to leverage the Axeda technology portfolio to complement its existing ThingWorx® rapid application development platform and its existing Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) and extended Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution portfolio.”

The press release announcing the Axeda acquisition further emphasizes that, “Core to Axeda’s IoT technology is the ability to enable companies to establish secure connectivity and remotely monitor and manage a wide range of machines, sensors, and devices. The Axeda Machine Cloud Service includes machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT connectivity services, software agents, and toolkits that enable companies to connect their products to the cloud using virtually any communication channel (e.g. cellular networks, the Internet, WiFi, or satellite). Axeda’s end-to-end security strategy covers all levels of the IoT technology stack, including network, application, user, and data security. Axeda has attained ISO 27001:2005 certification, supporting the company’s focus on delivering the highest levels of security, performance, and availability.”

What’s Next for PTC? And SLM?

In many ways, what’s next for PTC will also foretell what’s next for SLM, as the company comprises a significant share of both the current – and the expanding – global SLM marketplace. The easy bet would be: more acquisitions to come, as PTC has historically set its sights on the technologies, platforms, expertise and customer bases it covets – and, then, goes after each of them full throttle, yet thoughtfully.

However, in moving forward so quickly after such a major series of acquisitions, it can be too easy to let some things fall between the cracks. As such, there are a few observations – and recommendations – that can be made, based on what we all (i.e., both the research analysts and the marketplace) have seen thus far.

To take full advantage of its dominant place in the world market, PTC may wish to:

  • Communicate to the marketplace – (i.e., not necessarily ‘spilling the beans’ beforehand, or giving away too much information – just continue conveying the ‘why’s’ as things happen, and providing updates at 90/180/365 days or so after the fact (e.g., via announcements, newsletters, podcasts, etc.).
  • Combine ThingWorx and Axeda into a single entity – which will help the marketplace better grasp and understand the PTC strategy.
  • Tie PTC’s expansive portfolio of technologies, applications and offerings to the growing phenomenon of big data and analytics – thereby assuring its customers (and the market, as a whole) that its IoT strategy, emboldened through its well-thought-out acquisitions, will support all aspects of its customers’ businesses.
  • Embrace the subscription pricing model – but recognize that much of the market will still need to be ‘educated’ as to exactly what it is, and how it will benefit their bottom line.

Other recommendations could also be made. However, now would be a good time to focus on the ones that will have the most immediate impact.

Summary

For some, what makes PTC’s acquisition of Axeda so appealing, is that it provides the company with something it did not necessarily attain as a result of the ThingWorx acquisition – that is, (1) a much larger customer base; (2) a more familiar and aware general market base of service organizations that may have just started their initial due diligence into prospective vendors and solutions for IoT; and (3) an already existent IoT platform-based firm with a strong reputation, and a well-established presence at industry trade shows, remote services conferences and in M2M-related trade magazines.

As such, by acquiring Axeda, PTC not only acquires its technology, employees, expertise, customers, partners and revenue – it also acquires a strong market voice for promoting the acceptance of remote services, M2M and the Internet of Things to a quickly learning – and hungry – global services community. Between Axeda and ThingWorx, PTC’s message can be more clearly communicated to interested parties in all aspects of the connected world – from both a technical and marketing perspective. The combination may be unbeatable!

The Internet of Things (IoT) Is Also the Internet of Payment Options

When it comes to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), everybody talks about the need to be fully connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).

It seems that everybody wants to embrace it; everybody wants to implement it; and everybody wants to deploy it. However, some organizations are more sophisticated than others with respect to their understanding of the realities of the IoT, and some are not – but the common thread is that everyone acknowledges that it is (or, at the very least, will be) a necessity for developing and designing the products that the market wants, the software that makes them work, and the services that will keep them up and running over time.

However, there is one key area regarding the IoT where the market still remains largely fragmented in its understanding; that is, how do you pay for the IoT? And this may be particularly true on the SLM side of the equation.

Let me explain.

It may be argued that each business component supported by the IoT has its own lifecycle, and that each lifecycle, in turn, reflects its own conceptualization, development, implementation, duration, complexity and ongoing need for management and support moving forward.

The findings from Strategies For Growth’s (SFG) 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey reveal an industry migration from an historical premise-based SLM user market (i.e., roughly 70 percent of existing SLM implementations are described as premise-based, vs. 30 percent as Cloud-, or SaaS-based) to a Cloud, or SaaS-based, SLM user market quickly evolving over the next 12 months (i.e., 67 percent planning to implement Cloud, or SaaS-based vs. 33 percent premise-based). The numbers are surprising in their magnitude, essentially representing a sea change from the “way things used to be”, to the “way things will be” (or already are, among the more sophisticated users).

Even more surprising is the lack of clarity currently resident in the SLM marketplace, among both vendors and users, with respect to how to price – and how to pay for – the desired SLM solution. Historically, services organizations sought either an (allegedly) all-inclusive SLM solution from a single provider, or a cherry-picked custom solution from among two or more of the best-of-breed providers. Depending on the specific case (e.g., type, size and complexity, etc. of the services organization) one could easily argue the respective benefits of either type of approach.

The thing is that times have changed – but the old habits and precedents harbored by long-time services managers sometimes stand in the way of their knowledge – and understanding – of the newer ways for acquiring SLM software (and other) solutions.

For example, when asked on a non-prompted basis, how they would prefer paying for their new and/or upgraded SLM solution, 33 percent of survey respondents cited perpetual license over subscription basis (which received only 12 percent), representing a ratio of nearly three-to-one for the traditional, tried and true payment model. While 30 percent were uncertain as to their preference, one-quarter (i.e., 25 percent) stated they still would prefer to own or lease the software.

However, when the same question was asked on a prompted basis in a follow-up survey interview – essentially with the same base of respondents – the results come out virtually 180 degrees diametrically opposed.

This is important because the only difference between the two modes of asking this one particular question is very straightforward: on the non-prompted basis, respondents were simply given a list of multiple choice answers from which they were asked to check the one response reflecting their preference. The choices were perpetual license, monthly subscription, own or lease, or don’t know/unsure.

For the same question, but asked on a prompted basis, each of the two main choices were described in the following manner:

  • “I would prefer to pay on a perpetual license basis (i.e., paying a large capital expense upfront, with ongoing monthly, quarterly or annual maintenance charges that could be expensed)”, or
  • “I would prefer to pay on a subscription basis (i.e., where there is no large upfront capital expense required, and I can expense the ongoing maintenance payments via credit card or other payment mode)”.

In the latter case, simply by defining how each of these two very different payment models work, we were able to, first, educate the potential SLM user that they have choices; and, second, that one of the choices may represent a new alternative (i.e., to them) that they may not have thought of before. As a result, the responses to this otherwise unchanged question totally flip-flopped to 44 percent preferring a subscription basis, compared with only 28 percent preferring a perpetual license. An additional 6 percent cited no preference, and only 22 percent responded don’t know/unsure.

What this shows is that while the market may be fairly sophisticated with respect to what features and levels of functionality they require from their SLM solution, many remain fairly uneducated about the payment options available to them and, as a result, tend to rely on their historical experience in paying for any service management solution on a perpetual license basis.

Regardless, the differences between the two alternative modes of payment could not be more pronounced. Say the desired SLM solution was available for roughly $1 million. Most, if not all, of this amount would be invoiced and payable within a timeframe virtually equal to the implementation and burn-in period – with a steep initial payment required up front. For such a large capital expense, the VP of Services Operations would need to present his or her case for acquisition to senior management, including the CIO, CFO and Procurement.

The acquisition cycle would likely be lengthy, complicated and hard fought from a value vs. cost basis, with each camp arguing from its own perspective. Further, even after the implementation, there would still be monthly, quarterly or annual maintenance fees required to ensure the efficient use of the solution over time. This approach is often a hard sell for the services manager, who just simply wants to implement a state-of-the-art solution that powers the company’s services operations.

The subscription model, however, offers an entirely new way of pricing and structuring the acquisition of the solution. Made possible through the proliferation of Cloud-based technology (and promoted in a big way by Salesforce.com for most of its offerings), going with a subscription model does not necessarily do away with any of the potential inter-departmental infighting between Services, Procurement and the CIO or CFO, etc.; however, what it does do is take away much of the financial burden associated with having to pay a steep upfront cost that, for some companies, could present a major cash flow or other bottom-line-related problem.

In fact, more than one respondent to the survey reveled in the possibility of having the option to pay for a much needed state-of-the-art SLM solution on a monthly basis – on his corporate credit card – rather than having to go head-to-head with management and Procurement over an extended period of time – with no assurance of winning their case.

Of course, subscription pricing is neither a miracle cure nor a panacea for the overall costs associated with acquiring and running an SLM solution; but it affords a “new” option that takes a more readily available Cloud-based solution, and makes it more easily affordable to the marketplace.

This example clearly shows that when the market is well-educated as to its options, it can more easily make a choice regarding these important types of decisions. However, it also shows that when it comes to pricing “new” technologies, or those being offered via “new” modes of delivery, they will require a bit more education from the vendors as to what options are truly available to them, and with what specific value propositions.

Taking a “Deep Dive” into PTC’s ThingWorx Platform

(A New Version Review and Post-Acquisition Update )

On March 26, 2014, PTC Influencer Relations invited nearly 200 industry analysts covering the Services Lifecycle Management (SLM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Internet of Things (IoT) and related technology segments to participate in an “informative webcast” that would provide a “deep-dive demonstration” of the Company’s newly-acquired (i.e., December 2013) ThingWorx award-winning product.

Russ Fadel, President & General Manager, and John Schaefer, SVP Development, of ThingWorx, the still-autonomous division of PTC, provided both an industry update of what the Company has accomplished in the past 90 days post- acquisition, as well as a demo of the new functionalities embedded in the new version (i.e., v5.0) of the solution, now in limited release among selected customers.

In his introductory remarks, Fadel made it clear that ThingWorx will continue to run both as a “separate business” and “under its own brand,” with Fadel reporting directly to Jim Heppelmann, President and CEO of the US$1.5 billion+ Company. One of the main differences, however, is that, now, ThingWorx can also tap into PTC’s extensive global base of PLM and SLM customers by using the Internet of Things as the common thread, or catalyst, for providing a more coordinated point of entry. In fact, Fadel was excited to announce that ThingWorx had just received its first order earlier in the day from a lead developed through the PTC sales prospecting base.

Internet of Things (IoT) / ThingWorx Background

ThingWorx bills itself as “the first platform designed to build and run the applications of the connected world, … [reducing] the time, cost, and risk required to build innovative applications for smart, connected products.” SFG‘s own recent research on the growing adoption and use of remote services and M2M technology confirms that the global marketplace has generally accepted the reality that the types of IoT-based solutions that ThingWorx – and, through its acquisition, PTC – now offers have become an increasingly important building block for both the Service and Product Lifecycle Management segments moving forward.

This foundation is apparently gaining strong momentum as PTC estimates that the number of “things” connected to the Internet “presently exceeds the total number of humans on the planet” and is “accelerating to as many as 50 billion connected devices by the end of the decade.” That’s billions! It also cites a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute report forecasting that “the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to unleash as much as $6.2 trillion in new global economic value annually by 2025” and “that 80 to 100 percent of all manufacturers will be using IoT applications by then.”

There are no two ways about it – the Internet of Things represents the primary catalyst of growth for both the present – and the future – of the ubiquitous and pervasive Service and Product Lifecycle Management markets.

PTC / ThingWorx Accomplishments in the 90 Days Post-Acquisition

The accomplishments realized by PTC/ThingWorx in the first 90 days post-acquisition have, thus far, been quite impressive as presented by Fadel and supported by a series of corresponding charts and figures. First off, however, it was made clear from the get-go that the ThingWorx strategy will remain unchanged – that is, that the main focus will remain on the Company’s three principal markets, namely:

  • Connected Industries / Connected Operations
  • Connected Products / Remote Services and Analytics
  • Connected Systems / Powered-by-ThingWorx Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

Of the three primary markets, the initial point of entry for ThingWorx has historically been Connected Industries. However, it is the Connected Products side of the market where there is likely the “biggest overlap” between the traditional ThingWorx base and the existing PTC customer base (now ready for cross-pollination on a much grander scale). Nonetheless, the Connected Systems market also represents a strong growth potential for the Company in areas including Smart Business, Smart Farming, Smart Cities, and the like. Overall, PTC’s existing base of approximately 27,000 customers also adds a strong prospecting component for ThingWorx to include in its newly-enhanced market outreach.

Fadel went on to explain how the sudden surge in business opportunities stimulated by both an expansive market forecast and the synergies made available through parent Company PTC’s extensive market presence, sales force and related resources, has resulted in a corresponding need for a more aggressive approach to internal expansion in terms of business locations and staffing.

For example, in Q1 2014, ThingWorx expanded its EMEA (i.e., Europe, Middle East and Africa) presence by more than 70 percent, and will also be expanding its Asia-Pacific presence significantly later on in Q2 2014. The Americas sales force is also undergoing a near-continuous expansion, with new positions being offered on a relatively ongoing basis. PTC also brings to the table a complimentary business development channel encompassing roughly 350 sales reps.

Fadel believes that this expansion is necessary in order to meet forecasted growth estimates and, as such, has chartered the Company to “double down on development in order to maintain our developmental lead.” To further support this expected growth, ThingWorx has also embarked on an even more aggressive effort geared toward an expansion in the number of its existing strategic partnerships with the end result being to provide a full complement of IoT resources to the global SLM and PLM market base.

Before ThingWorx, Fadel explained, the market consisted primarily of sensors, devices and equipment; communications elements; general purpose development tools and fixed applications, all trying to work together through a common operating network to connect in as best a fashion as possible. However, they typically consisted of “rigid packaged applications,” and/or “brittle custom applications” that may best be described as requiring complex programming in support of platform services built on a project basis. Even worse, they were also typically difficult to maintain and evolve, high risk/high cost undertakings and generally standalone efforts that essentially created barriers to any future innovation. As a result, according to Fadel, this is why the first generation of M2M and the Internet of Things “failed.’

However, the research-driven ThingWorx platform introduced a whole new way of operating and supporting users in a much more user-friendly manner through its “design for purpose.” The unique ThingWorx application platform is built around a number of innovative technologies that integrate new functionalities, including a mashup builder, squeal and third-party tools to support complete system service integration, business logic (i.e., properties, services, events, etc.) and a 3D storage engine, among others. Empowered by the Cloud, these innovations also rely heavily on new communications capabilities such as AlwaysOn™ technologies, wireless provisioning and others.

The end result for the customer/user is that the ThingWorx platform was designed to reduce the overall time required to build their IoT/M2M applications, and to run them at “10x faster” – a dual promise that ThingWorx still makes to each of its customers today (and quite a compelling value proposition). As such, its last two versions (i.e., v3.x and v4.x) were presented to market essentially in terms of their speed of build and “ease of use.” According to Fadel, it was at this point where PTC President & CEO, Jim Heppelmann, came to the realization that, “We have to buy this company, because they have exactly what we’re planning to build, but it will take us years to develop and stabilize a product to the point at which the ThingWorx platform exists today.”

New/Improved Functionality of ThingWorx Version 5.0

The latest ThingWorx release (i.e. v5.0) builds upon past releases by adding new and expanded areas of “deployability and scalability” – two areas that really excite the ThingWorx team! However, the first step will be to “educate the marketplace in realizing this functionality” (i.e., in that it really exists!) “Federation” is the term that ThingWorx likes to use to tie these two areas together.

Federation essentially answers the prospective customer’s question, “How do I scale the management of my remote operations? I manage 100K devices today, but will be expanding to 1 million in a year, and more than 5 million over the next several years. How do I grow the solution?” The Federation Phase 1 offering addresses this question by providing a number of new (and expanded) functionalities, as follows:

  • API Server with Manage Edge Thing Connections that allows scale to any number of connected things by adding stateless request/response servers; and
  • Next Generation Web Socket Edge MicroServer with a configurable duty cycle, Web Socket integration to the ThingWorx Platform Server, improved Store & Forward, Software Update to edge devices (including EMS updates) and SDKs for Java, .NET, iOS, Android, & C, with others planned (e.g., Python, Node.js)

Other innovations now available via ThingWorx v5.0 include:

  • Matrixed multi-tenancy for the collaborative world (i.e., visibility control via hierarchical “organization” entities to manage access to Model assets and data sources)
  • Improved alerts (i.e., rules for generating alerts from properties, priorities for contextualization, alert acknowledgement, new service to return properties and alert status for summary views)
  • Localization of runtime
  • Productivity updates
  • Improved integration to source control systems, with differential exports to individual files, organized by collections
  • Additional options for branding and personalization

In a more practical sense, what all this means to the ThingWorx user is an improved level of functionality via version 5.0 that assures:

  • Once the device calls in (or is called) for the first time, it remains in the system “for good” (i.e., no need to re-enter, re-submit or re-key, per event)
  • Quicker time-to-value and, therefore, quicker time-to-productivity
  • Ability to put the customer’s own brand on the application
  • Ability to share assets across organizations (with discrete sharing of individual device information/data, as applicable)
  • Individualized “theming”, or the ability to provide a uniquely different “feel” for each user on a highly scalable and easy-to-use basis
  • Ability to “mashup” widgets, “renderers”, layouts, and visual data displays, as desired, simply via “a few clicks”, and “drag and drop”
  • Ability to see the actual movement of trucks/vehicles, etc., on the screen in real time
  • Ability to “push” new data automatically (i.e., without needing to initiate a request)
  • Many others

[Please note that this Analyst’s Take focuses primarily on the market aspects of the Company’s industry update and new v5.0 version functionality, and not the technical aspects of the platform itself. For more information, please contact ThingWorx directly.]

Basically, SVP Schaefer describes ThingWorx as “a complete events-driven solution” and one whose mission is “to radically change the effort it takes to build an IoT app through the use of open APIs, the integration with third-party systems and reduced risk” – and all at 10x the speed! He also cites the ThingWorx platform as being built squarely on the concept of “Federation”, which he refers to as the “big bang” coming out of the v5.0 release.

Finally, when asked by this analyst “Which side of the market does ThingWorx expect to benefit most from its newfound relationship with PTC? The SLM side of the market, the PLM side – or some combination of the two?” Fadel’s response was immediate and clear – initially, the primary focus will be on the SLM side, as the overall value proposition would be more easily explained and justifiable to prospective customers in terms of attaining higher levels of Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance, quicker response time and other metrics used as conventions for measuring service delivery performance in the global community.

However, in the long run, Fadel believes that the PLM and manufacturing side, fraught with ongoing production- and quality-related issues, will ultimately represent the Company’s primary target market as it ramps up the curve in terms of the adoption and use of Internet of Things-based platforms and solutions. Overall, each segment has its own unique (to them) story about how the IoT can support their long-term goals and objectives, and, as a result, both represent the future for the Internet of Things – as well as for ThingWorx and PTC.

Acquisition Works: The Acquisition of ThingWorx Establishes a Pattern of Connectivity in PTC’s Global Growth Strategy

On December 30, 2013, when PTC announced that it had acquired ThingWorx, the Exton, Pennsylvania-based creators of an award-winning platform for building and running applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), it should not have been a surprise. However, for those of us who have been covering the global services community for the past several years, what was most surprising was the timing of the acquisition – that is, it was at least a year or so sooner than what we might otherwise have expected!

No two ways about it, though – the acquisition of ThingWorx makes absolute sense for PTC. And, as it turns out, the timing could not have been more appropriate. As stated by PTC president and CEO Jim Heppelmann in the Company’s official press release announcement, “All aspects of our strategy to date have centered on helping manufacturing companies transform how they create and service smart, connected products.” Thus, the three primary keywords from Heppelmann’s introductory quote are: “manufacturing”, “service” and “connected”. And we could not agree more!

Heppelmann went on to elaborate, “With this acquisition, PTC now possesses an innovation platform that will allow us to accelerate how we help our customers capitalize on the market opportunity that the IoT presents.” We agree that this latest move now firmly positions PTC as a major player in the emerging Internet of Things era and, by doing so, allows the Company to continue to expand the overall breadth and depth of its historical Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution portfolios.

PTC’s plan is to use the ThingWorx platform “to speed the creation of high-value IoT applications that support manufacturers’ service strategies, such as predictive maintenance and system monitoring”. This, in turn, would serve as a complement to its existing SLM and extended PLM solution portfolios. As such, the Company would now be able to offer its customers a means to establish “a secure, reliable connection to their products as well as a platform to rapidly develop applications for maintaining and operating them – and ultimately for finding ways to create new value.

In an ideal business world, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) would all work in concert with one another, connected in real time, and providing enterprise-wide benefits in a truly synergistic manner. Please forgive my Math background, but the equation that would best represent this ideal scenario would look something like this:

     Lifecycle Management (Product + Service + Application) x Connectivity = Business Lifecycle Management 

– or more simply stated –

LM (P+S+A) x C = BLM

More simply stated, what this basically means is that, long before the acquisition,PTC had already taken a number of proactive steps toward putting most of the individual Lifecycle Management components of the equation in place; however,since the acquisition of ThingWorx, it is now able to integrate the one last remaining piece of the puzzle to deliver a total Business Lifecycle Management (BLM) solution to its customers. This is where IoT meets Lifecycle Management!

The Internet of Things – especially as developed and applied in the way that the ThingWorx solution has evolved – represents the “cement” that can now bond the Company’s highly regarded PLM, SLM and ALM offerings together, especially for those more progressive enterprises that have already recognized the synergies and economies of scales associated with the cross-pollination of these three historically separate disciplines. The IoT also serves as a catalyst for PTC to improve each of its individual major product lines (plus any of its other related enterprise solution offerings), in and of themselves, just by the nature of its newly-acquired ability to leverage state-of-the-art connectivity into all aspects of its global enterprise solutions.

This latest acquisition also puts all of us covering the global services community on notice as to how aggressive PTC is likely to continue to be moving forward with respect to both growing its core (i.e., traditional) businesses, as well as expanding its overarching technology base and global market presence. The Company is widely recognized as being among the market leaders in each of its core businesses; however, its investment in IoT should also serve to expedite and facilitate its ability to deliver.

Throughout his presentation as part of the Company’s January 15, 2014 industry analyst Webcast, Heppelmann used highly descriptive terms and phrases to underscore the rationale behind the benefits of the acquisition including “globalization”, “collaboration”, “take the world to digital products”, “design anywhere; build anywhere”, “personality of products” and “diversity with scale”. These are all areas that PTC had been trying to build upon over the past several years that can now be fully supported and facilitated as a result of the acquisition of ThingWorx.

In his address, Heppelmann further supported the rationale for acquiring ThingWorx by identifying the major forces that PTC believes are driving transformation in the manufacturing sector today; i.e., the forces that have led PTC to make an accelerated move into the IoT era:

  • External forces are reshaping the manufacturing landscape
  • Products are evolving to be smart, connected and global
  • Value is fundamentally shifting from product to service
  • When combined, these forces will transform the industry

Taken together, these forces describe a global manufacturing sector that will begin to look very much different in the next couple or few years than it looks today – that is, a sector predicated on an emerging foundation of the three descriptors Heppelmann had cited earlier in his presentation: i.e., “manufacturing”, “service” and “connected”.

There have been many of us who follow the global services community that have been watching – and, quite frankly, wondering – how PTC would ultimately incorporate its October 2012 acquisition of Servigistics into its overall operations and solution offerings. In fact, over the past 16 months or so, many of us have felt that our (and the market’s) questions have been left largely unanswered. The Company’s July 2013 acquisition of Enigma, a niche developer of software that aggregates and delivers technical content in aftermarket service environments, also contributed to this growing list of unanswered questions. However, the acquisition of ThingWorx has changed everything – apparently, there always was a “method behind the madness” at PTC that was not really mad at all!

It would be incorrect to interpret PTC’s most recent spate of acquisitions as being little more than a series of one-off purchases made by an already established, major PLM industry player that simply wants to add to its global empire. Conversely, these acquisitions have apparently been both long – and well – thought out as part of an overarching strategy that would not only propel PTC to be the single largest provider of global PLM and SLM products and services, but, rather, totally reposition the Company as an Internet of Things leader that has leveraged the latest in state-of-the-art technology into a comprehensive – and completely re-tooled – portfolio of enterprise solutions.

For those of us who have spent most of our careers serving in either the PLM or SLM (or ALM) marketplace, the time for choosing sides (i.e., “we’re either in product management or services management”) is over! Our research has consistently shown that the gap between manufacturing and service management is diminishing, and that the ability to deliver what our customers want, when they want it, and in a consistent and more collaborative fashion will be an even more critical driver for success in the Internet of Things era (i.e., today, and in the foreseeable future).

While many of today’s manufacturing and services managers may still find it too difficult to operate outside of their respective management silos, PTC clearly understands the need for providing a technology platform to support the “new normal” for enterprise-wide collaboration. They have seen the future – and it is a future that will essentially be built around global solutions, powered by the Internet of Things, and supported by a solutions provider that understands how each major component of the enterprise needs to work in concert with the others.