6 Of The Biggest Announcements From PTC’s LiveWorx 2019

CRN breaks down the biggest news from PTC's annual LiveWorx digital transformation conference, where the industrial software vendor announced a new augmented reality acquisition, the hiring of a McKinsey executive, the investment in a 3D imaging startup and more.

'We're Going To Make A Lot Of Money Together'

PTC drew thousands of attendees to its annual LiveWorx digital transformation conference, which ran from Monday to Thursday in Boston.

The Boston-based industrial software company dropped multiple announcements at the event, including news of an augmented reality acquisition, the hiring of a McKinsey executive, the promotion of PTC's channel chief, the investment in a 3D imaging startup and a new alliance with a global telecom company.

[Related: PTC CEO: U.S. Blocking Huawei As A Customer Doesn't Do Any Good]

PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann told partners at the event that there are major growth opportunities in technologies such as Internet of Things and augmented reality — which are projected to represent one-third of PTC's sales this year — as well as continuing opportunities in computer-aided design and product lifecycle management.

"My message to them was we're going to make a lot of money together, because this is a great market, and we have some great technology that can create tremendous value," he said on Tuesday.

What follows is a breakdown of the biggest PTC news from LiveWorx 2019.

PTC Acquires AR Services Firm Twnkls

Following its acquisition of systems integration partner Factora in April to increase its digital manufacturing expertise, PTC announced that it has scooped up another one of its partners.

This time, it's Twnkls, a Netherlands-based augmented reality services firm that has worked on some of the "most advanced AR implementations in the world," according to PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Heppelmann told journalists and analysts at LiveWorx that PTC bought Twnkls to better support the company's customers and partners with AR deployments, which are powered by Vuforia, the company's AR software platform.

John Gray, PTC's channel chief, told CRN that the Factora and Twnkls teams will not compete with the company's partners for deals, steering clear of channel conflict.

McKinsey Exec Hired To Lead New Solutions Group

As PTC acquired firms to expand its augmented reality and Internet of Things expertise, the company has also made a major executive hire to form a new solutions practice.

Jim Heppelmann (pictured), PTC's CEO, said that the company hired Craig Melrose, a partner at McKinsey who led the firm's digital manufacturing practice, to lead its new Digital Transformation Solutions group. Melrose starts at PTC on July 8, Heppelmann said, and his title will be executive vice president of Digital Transformation Solutions, according to a PTC spokesperson.

The new group will focus on creating packaged solutions from the company's software stack that are more scalable than solutions that are developed for single customers.

"We'll always sell the enabling technologies," Heppelmann said. "We just want to get better at showing you what to do with them, so that you don't have to figure it out."

Channel Chief John Gray Promoted To DVP

PTC Channel Chief John Gray (pictured) has been promoted to lead the company's entire channel organization after first joining the industrial software vendor last fall, the executive told CRN.

Gray is now divisional vice president of the PTC Partner Network, the same role his predecessor, Kerry Grimes, held before Grimes left for Schneider Electric-backed Aveva Software earlier this year. Gray was previously senior vice president of worldwide solution provider sales, the role Gray was given when he joined the company in October. At the time, Grimes said he was passing the "channel chief" title to Gray.

With the promotion, Gray's responsibilities expand from solution provider sales to the entire channel organization, which includes PTC's partner program and partner marketplace, and puts him in charge of all the company's partnerships with resellers, managed services providers and regional systems integrators.

"It's really all of the moving parts that go with everything from recruit, enable, go to market, sell, support, success," Gray said. "Think of that whole cycle and that's what I'm responsible for."

Before joining PTC, Gray was most recently senior vice president of alliances at Datadog, a Boston-based cloud monitoring provider. He was also a consultant for IPED, a division of The Channel Company, CRN's parent company.

PTC Invests In 3D Imaging Startup Matterport

PTC has invested in Matterport and formed a partnership with the 3D capture software startup that will allow customers to scan their facilities and turn them into virtual 3D environments.

With the new partnership, PTC said it will offer the first augmented reality solution that focuses on factories, plants and other spaces, as well as the people who operate them. Using the 3D imaging data from Matterport, customers will be able to unite factory models with factory data to create a 3D digital twin.

Financial details of PTC's investment were not disclosed.

"There are other ways to scan spaces, but Matterport has made it inexpensive and very, very simple, which we think is important because we at PTC want to show people what you can do with the model," PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann told analysts and journalists on Tuesday.

PTC Forms Strategic Alliance With Vodafone

Building upon its strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Rockwell Automation and Ansys, the company announced a new strategic alliance with British telecom company Vodafone.

The companies said this strategic alliance will enable customers to accelerate the creation of end-to-end solutions for Internet of Things and augmented reality applications that solve business challenges, including reducing the cost of operations, building better products or services and improving the customer experience.

PTC said the new alliance is built on top of an existing three-year relationship with Vodafone.

"The opportunities for IoT and AR solutions in all industry sectors are enormous and we want businesses of all sizes across the globe to be able to leverage the power of IoT to drive better outcomes for themselves and their customers," Stefano Gastaut, IoT director of Vodafone Business, said in a statement.

PTC Updates ThingWorx, Vuforia Engine

PTC announced that it has released updates to both its ThingWorx Internet of Things platform and its Vuforia Engine augmented reality platform.

With ThingWorx 8.5, the company said it will enable faster configuration and deployment of applications across multiple sites and geographies. The platform also comes with pre-built, pre-configured capabilities for engineering, manufacturing and service.

On the engineering side, the platform's new ThingWorx Navigate Digital Change Management Application will make it easier to share valuable information and facilitate collaboration. For manufacturing, ThingWorx is now compatible with Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk Analytics. On the service side, the ThingWorx Software Content Management App can now work with Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub and Azure IoT Edge.

With Vuforia Engine 8.3, PTC is using deep learning to enable advanced capabilities for 3D augmented reality target recognition based on the customer's CAD model, allowing models to be recognized from difficult angles, including in scenarios where there is poor lighting.