5 on a Friday — what a week! Autodesk, ESI, PTC, Shapr3D, and more

Nov 5, 2021 | Hot Topics

Oh my goodness, what a week. We’ve had events, earnings, non-earnings news … I feel like a sponge that simply cannot absorb one more thing. We’ll get back to earings in more detail next week (and, I hope a more regular blogging cadence), but here are a couple of things I think are worth knowing about:

Some days recently I’ve had as many as four events to bop between — and that’s from the comfort of my home office. Clearly, it wouldn’t have been possible two years ago to attend this many events in person; it’s also not possible in a mostly-digital world. Ralph Grabowski, of WorldCAD Access, writes about the burnout he feels and has suggestions for making things better. For media/analysts whose job is to see things across vendors and industries, Ralph is mostly right; for users, though, who need to dive deeply into specifics, it’s a different world. His piece is worth a read, especially if you’re a vendor planning these events.

One thing I did do this week was helping to facilitate ESI Live 2021. Many of you have questions about ESI and where it’s going; I interviewed CEO Cristel de Rouvray about just that during the event’s opening plenary (replay here). Ms. de Rouvray and I also tried to summarize the event in a closing session — look for that replay, too. Her main takeaway: companies are working hard and are optimistic about meeting global challenges. Mine? How effective simulation is at supporting innovation in materials, manufacturing processes, supply chain collaboration, and more. It was an inspiring (and brief, to Ralph’s point) event.

We’ll do a deeper dive into earnings next week (spoiler: mostly good news) but there are a couple of other news-y things to talk about.

First, Autodesk launched a bond offering specifically related to its sustainability efforts. We’ve seen Bentley, Altair and others do bond offerings to raise money for acquisitions and expansions –general business stuff–but this is the first one I’m aware of in our space with a social mission. Autodesk says it wants to raise $1 billion in and pay 2.4% interest on senior notes due in 2031. What will it use the money for? “Autodesk intends to … finance or refinance, in whole or in part, certain eligible projects related to both environmental and social initiatives, including: Eco-Efficient Products, Production Technologies and Processes, Sustainable Water and Wastewater Management, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Green Buildings, Pollution Prevention and Control and Socioeconomic Advancement and Empowerment.” I find it fascinating — and have so many questions, like, who decides if a product meets these criteria? It could be argued that everything does–AutoCAD used for efficient home design, for example–which makes this an all-purpose find raising with a green-wash. What happens if Autodesk turns out to use the money for something that doesn’t meet the criteria? Maybe we’ll learn more on Autodesk’s earnings call on November 23.

Next, Shapr3D, the iPad then MacOS CAD product, is now available on Windows. The very cool demo I saw involved a ginormous Surface tablet that could be rotated between portrait/landscape for the most effective access to the design and UI. Worth your time to take a look.

Finally, PTC is restructuring itself to be more SaaS-y (we’ll cover that next week) but also made a big splash when it announced that it was taking a huge step to move its IoT offering from toolkit to product set. One of the things that has been both an impediment and a source of excitement about IoT-izing a manufacturing facility is that it all starts in a sandbox, with a pilot to see what can and should be instrumented, what type of data flows from sensors, how it’s gathered and processed for decision-making … it’s been a trial and error process, with each installation seen as unique. PTC (and others, to be fair) recognized that this one-installation-at-a-time approach was challenging for people without the expertise to do this on their own (or the cash to hire consultants) and so has come out with ThingWorx Digital Performance Management Solution (DPM), which “provides performance insights and enables real-time, closed-loop problem solving. It delivers one universal view of performance, communicated in an understandable business metric: hours. This metric is easily understood across frontline workers, managers, and executives, and provides a foundation for an enterprise-scale solution. DPM supports investment accountability by validating outcomes for transformational investments with real-time production data and easy-to-calculate financial improvements.” There’s a lot more to it; you can see PTC’s rollout event here. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects roll-outs and adoption rates.

OK. That’s it — enjoy the extra hour of sleep this weekend, if you’re in the US.