Parametric Technology Recruits Microsoft Resellers For SMB Expansion

PTC, a supplier of product development software, this week also said it is shipping Windchill ProductPoint, a product lifecycle management (PLM) application built on Microsoft Office SharePoint Services targeting SMB customers. PTC executives said they are recruiting Microsoft VARs, particularly those reselling SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics applications, to carry the new software.

PTC sees the SMB market for computer-aided design (CAD) and PLM software as its major areas for growth. And that means increased reliance on the channel. In 2008, about 25 percent of PTC's $1.08 billion in sales were through channel partners -- up from just 10 percent five years ago. "By 2011, we want [resellers] to do 30 percent to 35 percent of our revenue," PTC president and CEO Dick Harrison said in a press briefing Wednesday. "We're not going to be successful unless we grow our channel faster than our direct sales."

That's already happening: Last year the company's direct sales grew only 7 percent, while sales through resellers increased 39 percent. PTC now has about 425 channel partners and the CEO said the company is recruiting more, although he did not offer a numerical goal. One step PTC is taking to build up its channel program is developing an online deal-registry system, said Robert Thibeault, senior vice president of channel operations and business development.

PTC's increased reliance on channel partners will also help the company compete against rival Autodesk in the desktop software market.

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PTC is particularly focusing on enlisting solution providers that work with Microsoft SharePoint and the Microsoft Dynamics line of ERP and CRM applications. Tribridge, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider that resells SharePoint and Dynamics, has already joined PTC's VAR program, and Harrison said others are in the pipeline. "That's a huge opportunity. It's a world we haven't been in before," the CEO said.

Some growth markets, such as companies developing alternative energy technology, require product development tools. That's why Tribridge has joined PTC's channel program and signed on to resell Windchill ProductPoint, said Scott Caudle, director of Tribridge's Dynamics ERP business. "This tool is one way for us to achieve growth in a downturn by focusing on emerging markets," he said.

Combining PTC and Microsoft software also strengthens Tribridge's hand when competing against Oracle, SAP and other vendors that offer broad lines of manufacturing, product development and PLM applications, Caudle said.

PTC's Windchill PLM software, which integrates all phases of a product's development and manufacture, is primarily designed for midsize and large businesses. The new Windchill ProductPoint software is designed largely for the SMB market, said Jim Heppelmann, PTC's chief product officer.

Mark Smithers, chief operating officer for Boston Engineering, a Waltham, Mass.-based PTC channel partner, sees demand for Windchill ProductPoint from companies as small as those with annual sales of $10 million to $25 million. "A lot of the big companies are pushing a lot of their tasks down to their suppliers," he said. "Everyone's starting to adopt these technologies."

Heppelmann said PTC built Windchill ProductPoint on SharePoint because it's quickly becoming the standard platform for developing and deploying applications in Microsoft environments. "PTC is betting the farm on SharePoint as its Web 2.0 development platform," he added.