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PTC Executive Roundtable, UK – The WhichPLM Report

August 1, 2012 by Ben Hanson in Event Reviews with

Suppliers mentioned in this article: PTC


PTC has set out to do something genuinely new with its summer series of Executive Roundtable events.  And after being invited to exclusively report on last month’s high-profile seminar in Paris, WhichPLM were invited to attend the latest event in the series this month to find out whether that uniqueness had made the transition across the channel.

As their French counterparts had done, the PTC UK team worked diligently to gather representatives from some of Europe’s leading retailers and brands at Aston Martin Racing – Prodrive in Warwickshire.  Many of those that attended the 6th July event were no doubt attracted by PTC’s promise of fostering and curating a collaborative discussion in place of the traditional, one-way presentation format that has become the formula for events like these.  For some, this was the first chance they had had to make themselves heard outside of restricted question-and-answer sessions and carefully-managed demonstrations delivered by other suppliers.

Although PTC touts its fashion focus (and the industry-specific capabilities of its FlexPLM solution), the company has strong roots in the aerospace and automotive industries, and the choice of Aston Martin Racing as the venue for this event was no coincidence.  The prestigious UK brand has long used PTC’s solutions (specifically Creo and Windchill) to assist in its drive for excellence, and although delegates were all executives and decision makers from within the fashion industry, PTC was keen to stress the points of commonality that exist between the two industries throughout the day.

The agenda began in earnest with an introduction by Paul Byfleet (PTC’s UK Director of Sales for the Retail, Footwear and Apparel industries), who extolled the recent growth of the UK market and spoke at some length about the opportunities that exist in the area.  Paul also introduced each of the day’s speakers, including several organisations that are currently in the advanced stages of rolling versions 9.2  and V10.1 of PTC’s FlexPLM solution out across their own product development users and extended supply chain partners.

Paul then handed over to Jamie Pappas, Vice President Retail, Footwear, Apparel and Consumer division for PTC, who welcomed all attendees before delivering an impassioned recount of PTC’s success over the past few years.  As Jamie explained, fashion has become an extremely important part of PTC’s business, experiencing double digit growth on a consistent basis.  He explained that they have seen more than 30 new customers within the retail, footwear and apparel industries adopt the FlexPLM solution since 2009 – something that was reflected in PTC’s market leadership in 2011/12, as revealed in the WhichPLM Annual Review 2012.

For some, this was the first chance they had had to make themselves heard outside of restricted question-and-answer sessions.Jamie went on to explain the three core business challenges that continue to drive adoption of PLM – all of which were familiar to the majority of the audience.  He said that foremost amongst these was the ever-shifting landscape of retail, the changes in consumer behaviour, and the growing demand for “fast fashion”.  The second challenge is, as we have often said here at WhichPLM, inextricably linked to the first: in order to meet the needs of consumers, there is a requirement for continued reductions in the time it takes to conceive products, manufacture them, and deliver them to a diverse range of markets around the world.  Finally, as Jamie explained, the global nature of product development itself is a persistent challenge and one that faces even the largest brands.  Businesses today work with a growing number of supply chain partners, and ensuring consistency and speed across the world stage can be a daunting prospect.

In order to help customers surmount these challenges, Jamie described PTC’s a long-established history of working closely with them to identify the business processes and optimisations that will deliver the most significant realised value in the shortest possible term.  He then set out his belief that successful implementations should be driven by this ethos, allowing the customer to effectively manage cost, quality, schedule and risk in order to achieve their predefine value targets.  A large part of this, he said, was ensuring clear communication between end users, decision makers and stakeholders, and carefully monitoring (and modifying as necessary) the implementation plan to reflect the realities that emerge as the project proceeds.

In closing, Jamie shared the road map strategy that PTC has put in place to allow it to continue to deliver these services (and more) to customers around the world.  Importantly, PTC’s own Research & Development department is working closely with a customer advisory board comprised of leading retailers, brands and sourcing agents from all corners of globe to ensure that future revisions of its solutions will continue to meet the needs of tomorrow’s markets and next season’s customers.

…foremost amongst these was the ever-shifting landscape of retail, the changes in consumer behaviour, and the growing demand for “fast fashion”. 

Prior to the roundtable discussion that leant the event its name, additional speakers took the floor to deliver informal presentations that collectively sparked discussion on a broad range of interesting and insightful topics.  These speakers included two relatively new, high-profile customers of PTC’s FlexPLM solution (specifically versions 9.2 & 10.1) who each provided a detailed case study of their selection, implementation and day-to-day usage of the solution – all the while engaging in direct discussion with the gathered retailers, brands and manufacturers who made up the rapt audience.  The first speaker was a representative of a global retailer – one that considers itself to be a small company, but that needs to design, source and deliver extremely large volumes of products on a global basis.  The second spoke on behalf of a renowned high-fashion brand, and provided valuable insight into their deployment strategy and the steps they took to ensure a smooth implementation.  Both speakers provided a great deal of awareness of the potential pitfalls, opportunities and tactics for delivering a successful and effective PLM project – in both the short and long term – and were able to lead the audience in an array of discussions and debates.

Last among the day’s speakers was WhichPLM’s own Mark Harrop, who had been invited to incorporate the findings of the popular WhichPLM Annual Review 2012 into the day’s discussions.  Mark had selected particularly important statistics from both this year’s publication and WhichPLM’s 2010 Customer Survey, and used the contrast between these to demonstrate the ways in which PLM has grown and diversified over the intervening years and to spark further conversation between attendees.  Using this information and his own industry experience, Mark provided additional insight into implementation strategies as well as leading the gathered audience in a discussion about the recent ascendency of Extended PLM (or “E-PLM” as it’s termed here on WhichPLM) solutions.  E-PLM solutions are those that cater to processes typically thought of as being outside the umbrella of PLM (CAD, 3D visualisation, virtual sampling, labour costing and more) but that integrate into PLM solutions in order to create the backbone of modern product development.

All of the day’s informal and bi-directional presentations led naturally into genuinely lively and insightful discussions, which saw representatives of some of the country’s (and the world’s) leading brands analysing and extrapolating from the ideas presented by their fellow attendees.

On this basis alone, PTC’s strategy of promoting and moderating free discussion between executives and decision makers is one that has created a unique and creative atmosphere both here and abroad.

Businesses today work with a growing number of supply chain partners, and ensuring consistency and speed across the world stage can be a daunting prospect.

About Ben Hanson

As WhichPLM’s Contributing Editor, Ben is responsible for our style, and provides much of the on-the-ground reporting and interviews that have come to characterise the magazine. As a professional writer and editor, Ben has worked for film and television, national newspapers, international corporations, and glossy magazines prior to becoming one of the PLM industry's best-known writers.

View Ben Hanson's profile →

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