PTC users have gathered in Las Vegas for PTC World 2011 to hear from the company and other users how to use PTC products for competitive advantage. After a long day of presentations and meetings, here are a few impressions on what I’ve learned; more to come in the next few days.

The big announcement of the day was the Creo 1.0 launch. Six new apps are shipping now with another three to come before next year’s launch of Creo 2.0. The technology keynotes showed some great user interface improvements and functionality; the Beta users I spoke with like the directionality of the offering and are rolling out the role-based applications to improve overall efficiency. The apps I intend to check out in the expo area include Creo Sketch and Creo Illustrate, extending PTC’s reach into early design and post-manufacturing service.

The biggest crowd reaction came from Creo Parametric Freestyle –push-pull of a shape to create a design– and Mobile Windchill 10 on a iPad –the crowd loved it when VP Brian Shepherd shook the tablet to explode an assembly– although many more very interesting things were shown, including a social product development Windchill app.

Most intriguing to me were the hints dropped during the various PTC presentations for Creo Simulate, which the company says “delivers capabilities an analyst needs for structural and thermal simulation“. The details won’t come until late tomorrow, but note the language the company used: it’s an app for the analyst function. That’s new; Pro/Mechanica was targeted at designers and offered a CAD-integrated analysis tool for easier workflows. Creo Simulate is a standalone app for analysts. Can’t wait to hear more tomorrow.

PTC said in a briefing for media and analysts that it sees significant opportunity for its Creo offering, with the direct modeling capability alone leading to perhaps a $100 million opportunity just among its installed base. PTC is hosting an investor day tomorrow and may provide more details then.

Missing from the Creo discussion was any talk of pricing. It appears that Pro/E users under paid-up maintenance will get some elements of Creo 1.0 as part of their regular maintenance upgrades, but will have to pay to get access to the new functionality. This is certainly reasonable; as one PTC exec said, “We’re not trying to lower ASPs (average selling prices) but create entry points for people not using this type of product.” I think this translates as “we’re going to price attractively for new users, and work to transition existing users in a fair manner.” But we need details before we can be sure of the plan.

PTC also spoke about its MKS acquisition and lots of great Windchill 10.0 functionality. I have pages of notes … but, details aside, my overall impression is that PTC is thinking hard about what its customers need to be effective at the enterprise level as well as individual engineer/designer level and is trying to deliver on its understanding of these needs. They appear to have given a great deal of thought to workflows, how data moves through an enterprise (or could/should move, depending on the situation), and where it gets stuck because it’s in an unusable form for the function. It all holds together well in PowerPoint/AVI form but the big question is how this will all resonate with users? The (non-Beta) people I’ve spoken with here are willing to give Creo a try and are interested in the opportunity offered by its role-based packaging.

That’s it for now. For those of you who don’t know, I live in the Boston area. Our professional hockey team, the Boston Bruins, are playing in game 6 of the US National Hockey League’s championship series. The Bruins are leading right now, but I need to give the game my undivided attention to ensure the win. I’m sure you understand ‘;-)’

More soon.

Note: PTC graciously covered expenses and registration for the event but did not in any way influence the content of this post.

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