LiveWorx, the preview (notes from day 0)

May 16, 2023 | Hot Topics

I loved set-up time at Daratech conferences. I would stand on a balcony or walkway and watch it all come together on the exhibit floor below me. Vendors building their booths, the service people laying down cables and bringing in counters, plants, and lighting, and the occasional ginormous, attention-grabbing booth prop. The space slowly filled, people started arriving … That’s what yesterday felt like at Liveworx felt: Things to learn, to experience, and presenters’ and attendees’ stories to hear. It’s exciting to be together in person again.

Yesterday was a pre-event day of partner sessions, user training, and the first LiveWorx attendee breakouts. What I attended foreshadows what’s coming the rest of this week: PTC is moving itself and its customers forward on many dimensions. Desktop/cloud. Perpetual/subscriptions. Design/design management to digital twin/thread/tapestry –and for the most part, the customers were interested.

My main takeaways:

  • CAM Studio looks fantastic. For those who haven’t been following, CAM Studio (fka CloudMilling) was acquired from its inventors, Michael and Ryland Johnson, late last year. It’s since been incorporated into Onshape and will apply some of Onshape’s signature features to CAM: versioning and data management, collaboration, and branching, among other things. The objective: to plan, visualize and simulate CNC machining from anywhere for any machine. What I found so impressive about the fireside chat I attended is that Michael (now a Distinguished Software Engineer and, apparently, the main programming force behind CAM Studio) and Ryland (now a Distinguished Technical Product Manager and a 40-year CAM expert who is “infusing his … vast experience in all things CAM” into Studio) know their stuff. None of this “today I’m programming CAM.” No. These guys live and breathe CAM and plan to release a serious CAM competitor when all is said and done. It’s now in Beta; general release is later this year.
  • I attended a few of the partner keynotes, and it’s clear: PTC is serious about its partner program and knows it has work to do. Stuart Heavyside, PTC’s DVP and Chief Partner Officer, told the 1500 or so partners there in person and virtually that they were vital to PTC’s success today and in the future.
  • Liz Donovan, PTC’s VP of Global Partner Programs and Strategy, and Dave Jacobs, PTC’s VP of Corporate Strategy and Planning, reiterated that PTC expects (and is working towards) 49% of revenue coming from SaaS solutions by 2027 —from 16% in 2022 — which means a massive shift for channel partners. PTC is working on its plan for partners (resellers, service providers, consultancies, technology suppliers, trainers, and others) but says it will include program tiers to help partners differentiate themselves, sales enablement tactics and programs, and more, applied with more consistency than (apparently) snow the case. It also sounds like PTC recognizes the challenges that SaaS places on the partners, with PTC controlling much more of the customer relationship than is currently the case.
  • I can’t claim to have surveyed the entire partner landscape. Still, the ones I spoke with are concerned about what this means for their businesses but see the writing on the wall: If all other software vendors are doing it, PTC must too, and the partners will have to adapt. They’re looking at value-added activities: training, services, and so on to help them maintain a close relationship with customers.
  • The partners seem to buy into VP CAD Brian Thompson’s thesis that SaaS-enabled CAD + PLM (Creo+ + Windchill+) will beat the competition, giving his channel partners more selling ammunition. Mr. Thompson believes that PTC competitors won’t be able to keep up, that the combo of the latest versions of the + products, their integration, and the platform’s openness to third-party solutions will be so “sticky and leave customers so excited about constant innovation and what they’re using every day from PTC. Every quarter, every six months, they will be in the upgrade and get more value over time on these technologies. It will be impossible for competitors to walk in and say, “Let me show you the latest” — because the customer will already be on the latest.” [Something like that. Dark hall, scribbling in my notebook in my lap. Lousy handwriting.]

The main shindig starts today –and I believe some of it is livestreamed; check out this link — with CEO Jim Heppelmann kicking things off at 9am Eastern. I’ll be looking hard for a Creo+ demo plus more on how the Servigistics acquisition fits into the vision (I think it does, but want to hear from PTC and its customers), and how the Ansys and Rockwell partnerships are doing. More soon.

Note: PTC graciously covered some of the expenses associated with my participation in the event but did not in any way influence the content of this post. The cover picture is of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center lobby; the slide is from the partner keynote session; both were taken by me.