PTC LiveWorx Europe 2015 marks the second European vendor event attended by WhichPLM during the month of November. Our CEO has recently returned from the two-day event in Stuttgart, Germany. This is Mark Harrop’s exclusive report.
PTC LiveWorx Europe 2015 took place in Stuttgart, Germany on 17th and 18th November, with a busy agenda of IoT (Internet of Things) sessions that focused on a broad list of industry sectors, including RFA (Retail, Footwear & Apparel).
I was invited to attend the event, and hear first-hand from PTC professionals and current PTC customers on PTC’s vision for the RFA industry, and their R&D plans for the future of IoT & PLM.
LiveWorx was advertised as the event for ‘everyone who designs, develop and services products’ so readers won’t be surprised to hear the event was overflowing with more than 2,500+ visitors – with PTC executives, product experts, business analysts, partners, customers, educationalist, press and other interested parties.
This year sponsors were made up of myriad businesses – from huge enterprises to smaller, niche companies. At Diamond level was well-known Wipro; Titanium sponsors included Elisa Telecommunications, and GE Digital; and at Gold level were Accenture, Kalypso, ServiceMax, Bosch Software Innovations, Telefonica, and DVM Technology. Plenty of other industry names combined to make up the silver and bronze pools as well.
LiveWorx was the most important pan-European event for PTC in 2015, and as such they endeavoured to do it justice. A brief flick through the program prior to my arrival, I could see it combined educational training with customer success stories and future thoughts on the Internet of Things as it relates to the RFA sector. And with a full agenda focused on retail, footwear and apparel (which I’ll delve into with some depth later in this report), keynotes from industry leaders, customer spotlights, and the dedicated mobile app for attendees, it was certainly set to achieve the success it was striving for.
LiveWorx is a new type of experience, with deep roots in the customer experience and sharing of information. The event is designed so that attendees can share real-world success stories with their peers – stories rooted in product design & development – to challenge and speculate, with the use of IoT, on the future of technology and business. This notion of sharing information was apparent throughout the course of LiveWorx; it was as much a networking platform for industry professionals, as it was a PTC event. After all, networking is one of the most valuable parts to any industry event.
I certainly found it of value talking to people from different industry sectors to better understand just how our sectors are moving closer together when it comes to emerging technologies; perhaps for the first time in my 30 year technology career, I can see that the RFA sector is at the same point as any other industry when it comes to IoT. It’s now up to the management teams within the RFA industry to take the opportunity to transform their businesses using PLM, extended-PLM, and connect their entire supply-chains through the enabling technology brought forth by IoT.
Hype versus reality
Before we delve too much further into this report, I suppose I should discuss the stigma around the term ‘IoT’.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing trend in which the physical world is becoming a mammoth information system – a system which can be linked through smart RFID and similar type sensors, embedded in physical objects and linked through wireless networks. These physical objects can also be connected to data systems – and data systems to each other – to comprise the full extent of “thing connectivity”. With new and exciting technologies, it’s often difficult to separate hype from reality. Certainly IoT, with its promise of connecting homes and cars, smart grids and smart manufacturing, and even smart wearables is bound to see a lot of hype. What appears to be different this time around is the convergence of disruptive technologies, such as cloud and mobile, ever reducing hardware and ubiquitous connectivity, increasing business use cases that are rewriting traditional business rulebooks for “Digital Connectivity”.
I’ll delve further into the specifics of IoT when it comes to PTC, and in particular this event, a little later in this report. But it’s safe to say, it is very much a reality. One that will change the way we all do business.
At LiveWorx, attendees were able to meet and share stories with retail professionals from Kalypso, Marks & Spencer, IKEA, La Redoute, Toyota Canada, IIC Intersport, Lane Bryant, LC Waikiki, ITC and more. And in terms of networking and speaking with PTC employees & partners directly, attendees could simply wander over to the ‘PTC Pavilion‘ to do so.
The Pavilion housed representatives across all of PTC’s solutions (PTC Creo, Windchill, Integrity, Axeda and Thingworx) offering technology demonstrations and face-to-face discussions. Between other sessions, visitors to the Pavilion were able to catch up on the latest developments for PTC’s entire solution platform. This was my opportunity to take a preview of FlexPLM Version 11, talk to the RFA team around latest developments and challenge the hype versus reality of IoT.
With so much on offer during the two days, our hosts had tried to make time management easier for us all. We all know the woes of keeping track of your time at events like these. So, not only did PTC create a Facebook page and Twitter account for the sole purpose of LiveWorx, but they also created a specialised mobile application integrated to social media that reminded me to be on time for the retail sessions!
The app contained information on event sessions that were not available online or anywhere else, including access details for all sessions and speakers. It offered the possibility to network directly with other attendees, and allowed people to share their thoughts on each of the sessions. It also allowed visitors like me to create there own personalized agendas, helping to ensure each attendee had a better chance of attending the sessions that provided the greatest level of interest and value. The app allowed attendees to rate each of the session tracks based on a 1-5 star rating. I am confident that, like myself, most visitors found the app of value.
This was also, no doubt, invaluable to PTC; ratings were certainly high for the last LiveWorx conference, with 96% of attendees describing the event as ‘valuable’ or ‘very valuable’ and a staggering 97% stating they’d recommend attending to a colleague.
So, the bar for this year’s event was set very high indeed.
The infinite loop of value
If we look at a modern PLM solution operating in the RFA space today, we see that in general it will support a broad set of processes, including: planning, trend, 2D creative design, 2D pattern engineering, material & component development, sampling and 3D prototyping, sourcing & costing. Typically, some 40+ processes can be found in a mature solution.
According to PTC, what’s missing in most PLM solutions today is the link to the retail front end (store and consumer) and to the supply-chain, in terms of visibility on what’s happening during cutting, production, testing, finishing, logistics, transportation, warehousing; whether the product is sold in-store or online; what’s happening with your competitors; what your customers think of your products; and how customers are interacting with your products in-store. In other words – the holistic 360-degree view of a product’s lifecycle and how all of this related information helps to impact the bottom line value for the business, or as PTC say: the “Infinite Loop of Value”.
An example of this would be the ability to measure your supplier performance versus agreed delivery dates, product capabilities, returns rates, sustainability, and compliance. This can feed back into PLM as one part of the supplier-loop. Another example would be the retail-loop: using shared data to understand what your consumer likes or doesn’t like, when he/she walks into the store. Today most retailers can tell you what they have sold, but unfortunately they are still not able to tell you why a person didn’t purchase a product.
The Internet of Things can help to answer the question of why the customer didn’t purchase, using in-store sensors and fitting room feeds on selected products, sizes, and colours. In the future this information will be shared with the merchandiser of PLM, who can use the information to improve the accuracy of planning & design detail. So, even though PLM is sitting in the middle between the retail-loop and the supplier-loop, it can feed off the insights to create value across the entire value chain.
To deliver this kind of connectivity, we need to link the data coming from the many in-store solutions (using data feeds from sensors, CRM & loyalty programs, ERP systems and many more…), with PLM and supply-chain solutions (such as trend services, 2D CAD, 3D, CAM, GSD-costing, knitting, weaving etc.). Once we possess this collective data, it can be analysed and aggregated to help support accurate and timely decision-making. Beyond what we would traditionally look to integrate, in the future planners will be able to learn from external data feeds like weather forecasts – using predictions to plan for swimsuits whilst the sun is shining and for umbrellas when it’s raining (or if you happen to live in the UK, like me – both on the same day!)
No longer the monolithic approach
PTC’s direction is to move away from the monolithic PLM system, to a broader set of connected solutions enabled by IoT, sharing data from design & development all the way back to the consumer – what we’d call the full 360-degree value loop. These connected solutions will comprise of PLM apps, Connected Store apps and Connected Supply Chain apps.
Balancing creativity with convention
Upon seeing the latest version of FlexPLM in action, I must say that I was impressed. The new UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) is slick and I’m sure it will go down very well with new and existing customers. The new UI/UX has been designed around typical user “roles” (Planner, Designer, Product Developer, Garment Technologist, Costing Engineer etc.), and each of the user roles have been given Role-Based Apps, which are task and decision based and interconnected. They push data across the PLM solution and can be bi-directionally linked to external solutions within the extended retail value chain. Fashion designers and developers are creative people that design beautiful products and don’t need to use boring design and data input tools.
So, it’s necessary to balance the heart of UI/UX, where UI (user interface) is more closely associated with the work of navigation, layout, flow, and information hierarchy, and UX is more closely associated with the work that builds on top of the UI as aesthetic graphic design, branding, messaging, and interactivity. These overlaps in both the UI/UX should essentially be intertwined with the goal of making an experience that is efficient and engaging in the same way that the designer sells their beautiful product creations. That’s why PLM vendors cannot ignore established conventions in the process of creating amazing user experiences.
The new FlexPLM UI/UX provides new search capabilities that operate in a similar way to that of Google. Additional information added to the search bar will help to build semantic search queries that seek to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the search bar. This will improve speed and performance. The solution makes smart use of conventions in the form of text, colours, graphics, icons, drag & drop capabilities, which all help to deliver a more efficient means of data input and user experience, making for a much more intuitive and pleasant experience for all concerned. It’s clear that PTC is now focusing on usability and use of data within their PLM solution that mirrors real-world RFA tasks and product development processes more effectively in its solutions.
Retail & the Internet of Things
LiveWorx offered an array of sessions on PLM – in particular focused on automotive, aerospace, and engineering. As our loyal readers will be aware, WhichPLM’s focus is on PLM in the RFA industry alone, and as such, this report focuses on the retail sessions only. Although, I must say that it was very interesting to hear from companies in other industries, like Toyota, who is using PTC’s FlexPLM fashion solution for it’s accessories business.
LiveWorx had a full two-day track of sessions for retail, footwear and apparel companies, with keynotes, the new FlexPLM (V11.0) announcement, tips and tricks from customer experts, and several interesting case studies.
Most of the sessions for RFA attendees focused on the theme of IoT in Retail with the Connected Store and Connected supply-chain.
PTC has been publicizing IoT (Internet of Things) for some time, across all industry sectors including RFA (Retail, Footwear & Apparel). LiveWorx was the perfect platform in which I could challenge, question and learn more about the subject of IoT. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of hype and confusion around the term. Skeptical of what this term actually means for the RFA industry and, more importantly, just how PLM vendors like PTC can articulate it’s value, I was keen to attend as many IoT retail sessions as possible to help “join the dots”.
The ‘European IoT Analyst Summit’ took place on the afternoon of 16th November (the day prior to the event kick off) and combined a keynote speech from Ernst & Young, entitled ‘Transformation in the Digital Age’, a customer use case with Ziehm Imaging, a research session from McKinsey, a roundtable discussion, and a presentation on PTC’s IoT strategy and vision statement from President and CEO, James (Jim) Heppelmann.
Jim has emerged as the driving force and thought leader for IoT within PTC. Interestingly, together with professor Michael E Porter, he has co-authored two articles regarding the transformational impact of IoT in relation to business, as well as a Harvard Business Review cover story, entitled “How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Competition”.
In 2015 Jim was named “IoT CEO of the Year”, “Technology CEO of the Year” and “CAD Society Leadership Award” for his work with the Internet of Things.
It was Jim who kicked off the RFA sessions on 17th (the first official day), with his opening keynotes. Heppelmann was joined by Michael (Mike) Campbell, PTC EVP, Digital Twin, to present their ideas on ‘The Reality of Things: Bridging the Digital and Physical Worlds’.
Jim was thrilled to see such a turnout, with the attendance doubling that of last year. He confirmed that IoT has received a great deal of hype and that in Germany people would know IoT as ‘M2M 4.0’, based upon the big idea of connected “things”. He rolled the clock right back to PTC’s entering of the market some 30 years ago, with the first idea of a 3D parametric design solution (named Pro/ENGINEER). Today almost every product we touch started life as a 3D digital form. Through these digital forms we design, prototype test, manufacture and bring to market products filled with information – the basis for everything that happens down stream. At present the flow of information only goes one-way with no flow back of data and therefore we don’t learn from the data and customer experiences. All solutions today are designed with this one-way flow, from design to PLM and ERP, with little or no real feedback.
‘Things’ are now changing.
Products are now being built in 3D and software is finding it’s way into products – not only in cars or aeroplanes but also in apparel products. We need to use the data feeds to support new design and developments. To articulate this, Jim used the example of Apple with its iPod, iPhone, and iPad all working together in the Cloud.
Products are becoming more sophisticated, digitally smart and are delivering more value to the consumers. Jim discussed products now linking to the Cloud to deliver data that can be used to analyse the health of a product or machine. If we link this to the apparel industry, then perhaps this could be the health of your CAM (Cutting) machine or similar devices. To do this effectively we will need to expand the links to the entire end-to-end solution stack and it’s many sub-systems. He stated that this change – in other words, IoT – is now unstoppable. Jim saw this as one of the main reasons for the influx of visitors to LiveWorx this year.
In the past 24 months PTC have been very aggressive in re-engineering and aligning solutions to support their vision and have invested $600 million purchasing new companies and R&D developments. The challenge for PTC now is to complete the deep integration to each of the new business solutions to ensure maximum value for PTC’s customers.
Heppelmann went onto discuss “Things becoming digital and physical at the same time, leading to augmented reality” confirming that PTC is now supporting augmented reality through the company Vuforia. Augmented reality is yet another software solution and one of the next ‘big things’ to support design and product development, and retail consumer experience.
PTC’s acquisition of Vuforia in early November 2015 definitely positions the company well as a future thought leader in augmented reality within retail. An example of the solution’s use would be rendering digital information overlaid onto 3D prototypes or physical samples. This was demonstrated live, with the overlay on a Santa Cruz bicycle. This augmented scenario, in which digital twins (made up of both the physical and digital worlds) can also be used in the area of Apparel design, development, testing, quality control and manufacturing. Augmented reality will also help to support the consumer experience and excitement when shopping by overlaying supporting data (such as product reviews and complimentary products) onto physical products that consumers may browse while in store. This is another way that PTC is showing how to use innovative new technologies to enhance their offerings for retail product development.
After speaking more with the PTC team on this, I came away with a vision of what’s to come in this exciting mixture of both the physical and digital worlds; I, for one, am looking forward to seeing these types of applications in the flesh. And let’s just say, it’s certainly worth further investigation into ThingWorx’s brand transformation throughout 2016 and beyond!
Michael Campbell, EVP Digital Twin, PTC, presented the live Santa Cruz mountain bike demonstration. The bike was designed in 3D and the physical bike was fitted with several sensors to measure attributes including wheel speed, pressure on the handlebars, and suspension pressure. This data was connected to the Cloud and sharing analytics were overlaid onto the physical bike to allow the designers to understand what was/is happening at any time.
The next big idea is to take the data and create a digital twin of the product, to enable the designers to calculate what’s happening and to help improve design without the need for the physical sample in hand. This is certainly something that we can do in the fashion world – using the idea of the digital twin (avatar) to design and improve products and accessories with data feeds and analytics going to dashboards to support design, development and even servicing of products. Imagine looking at a cutting machine in a factory overlaid with data on the health of the cutting machine – knife sharpness, motor health, cutting properties – I can think of many similar examples.
The race is on
Members of Ferrari were present at the last event I covered including the car, so it was pleasing to follow this up at LiveWorx with the Formula One Team, consisting Mark Gallagher and David Coulthard.
Mark Gallagher has worked for Formula One for almost 30 years and has spent the last 15 working as a senior executive within the management of Jordan Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing and Cosworth. Whilst operating at the centre of this incredible business, Mark has worked directly with the best drivers and team owners in the world, giving him a privileged understanding of what it takes to be a world class competitor.
Mark began by stating the predictability of modern races; Formula One cars, designed by world-class engineers, contain engines that are both reliable and safe. With this comes a level of certainty for the outcome of the race. Over the last 25 years the quality of the cars and engines has become a guarantee. He went on to talk about Michael Schumacher winning five world Championships for Ferrari, due to the winning formula of the team spirit, it’s engineers, technology and integration, reducing lap time race after race. The serious message was that Formula One is a factory and its product is a racing car – a technologically advanced machine using the latest technology and materials, all abiding by strict regulations. This is similar to the regulations that we have in the fashion industry, and any other sector.
Just like in our own industries, data is the key to winning the race and, just like other industries, Formula One is starting to use IoT to improve the outcome of each race. This happens by streaming real-time data from the car to the engineers in the pit-lane, so that they can help the driver to make the right decisions or changes to the vehicle, heading off problems before they become a crisis. Today, the teams can manage risk far better than ever before with the use of PLM and IoT.
David Coulthard doesn’t need any introductions. The former Formula One racing driver has won 13 Grand Prix in a career spanning 15 seasons. He made his Formula One debut in 1994, and has twice been a member of the Construction Championship-winning team (once with Mercedes McLaren and once with Red Bull Racing.) Coulthard began his presentation by stating that “the Formula One factory builds the perfect product”, which is then handed over to the driver. Quality and safety is paramount. Although a product may be close to perfect, humans can make mistakes. Coulthard stressed how drivers need to trust in the data and, likewise, supporting teams need to read the data coming from the driver (heart rate, core body temperature, steering, braking).
Microscopic design adjustments, which account for less than a second of time on the track, can make the difference between coming first or second. These improvements can be achieved by use of new software, new materials, virtual design, 3D printing, and simulation of what might happen. The data revolution has helped to deliver many wins for David and his team. The key message was that of team effort made in the Formula One factory with the key objective of winning the Constructors Championship.
20 years ago the average time taken in a pit stop was around 6 seconds; today that’s come down to 3 seconds on average. Pit stop improvements have come about from continuously challenging the process and introducing step-changes. Within the fashion value chain, we need to constantly challenge our processes, not only in the headquarters but also across the entire supply-chain, examining each operation method and labour BOL (Bill Of Labour) operation in microscopic detail to deliver improvements leading to a sustainable business.
Coulthard ended on a powerful message: “Anyone who doesn’t embrace technology is not a competitor, and if you’re not a competitor your business is going to die.”
Continuing on the retail track
After Gallagher and Coulthard, and after the attendees had all grabbed a bite to eat, Kalypso took to the floor to present ‘IoT in Retail & The Connected Store’. Delivered by Retail Business Development Executive, Al Meyers, the session discussed influential trends facing the industry, and how retailers can enable a smarter, more connected store. Meyers is an avid speaker on the future of retailing, and has helped businesses to stay relevant, whilst creating customer loyalty. [I suggest that our readers visit the Watch & Listen section of WhichPLM to view Kalypso’s video on the connected store.]
Following Al Meyers was Nagesh Subrahmanyam of ITC Infotech. Subrahmanyam explored the complexities and challenges of supply-chains, and just how much is involved before a product can reach its consumer. “An efficient supply-chain”, he stated, “is one that responds and reacts to events as a single unit.” He went on to share how ThingWorx (IoT connectivity) & ColdLight (data analytics) can be used to help bring together different systems throughout the extended chain – and how that information can provide sourcing visibility in PLM. He also made the point that retail is the third most important industry in terms of IoT and a third of retailers surveyed have confirmed that they are starting to deploy IoT within their businesses.
For current users of FlexPLM, I was informed that ColdLight is now available to use with FlexPLM.
In my opinion there are still a great deal of challenges that we all face, when it comes to connecting the end-to-end supply-chain solutions (100+ in a typical retailer/brand), many of these will be competitive challenges and standards…
Gretchen Jezerc was next for the retail track. Jezerc is VP of Product Management & Business Development at First Insight. With expertise in marketing and expansion projects, Jezerc explained the importance of ‘Listening to the Voice of the Customer.’ She discussed the science of predictive analytics, and how First Insight is working together with PTC to help customers launch the right products at the right price, and to the right consumers. First Insight and PTC have an exclusive partnership with a bi-directional out-of-the-box integration between FlexPLM & Firstinsight. The business offers a 24/7, Cloud-based solution that provides market testing, algorithms and analytics to help predict best sellers. Predictive pricing is now on the roadmap, meaning targeted smart offers that can be linked to a consumer’s purchase history.
An RFA focus
Kicking off day two of the retail track was a PTC Corporate Overview from Tony DiBona, EVP PTC and Eric Symon, GM Retail Business Unit. The two shared PTC’s renewed commitment to Retail & Fashion, stating, “our goal is to renew and increase our focus on RFA (Retail, Footwear & Apparel). Listening to and helping to improve the customer experience, helping to create more value for our clients and setting the future expectation and accountability for the senior executives of PTC”.
The duo gave credit to Kevin Ashton – a British pioneer who co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which created a global standard system for RFID (radio frequency identification) and other sensors. Kevin is known for inventing “the Internet of Things” term, to describe a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors. The team went on to relate to IoT and what’s happening in the retail space, using Wal-Mart as an example of an IoT leader, helping to shape the use of IoT in retail.
DiBona and Symon made reference to wearable technologies in RFA as well as other sectors like health and medical. The team at PTC sees the opportunities brought by utilizing best practices from other industry verticals that can add value to the RFA supply-chain. They went on to talk about leveraging Windchill Cloud as part of IoT, expanding the PTC solution stack.
Today PTC is a $1.3 billion revenue business with the RFA sector sharing 8%; in simple terms, RFA is a very important vertical for the organisation. Anthony & Eric made clear that PTC’s Executive Sponsors are firmly behind the RFA sector.
Keeping the customer happy
Customer satisfaction was another key point from the executive management team, they went on to say that the team at PTC will continue working hard to deliver improvements – in both product and service – for greater customer satisfaction. To support this goal, PTC are continuing to invest in building a strong global team of RFA experts around the world, several new team members were introduced to the LiveWorx RFA audience.
R&D spend will continue to increase to support new developments within the RFA solution stack; PTC will give greater focus to creating marketing awareness for their products and services, and a new focus on communication for RFA-specific events. Additional focus will be given to the Technical Committee, looking at NPI (New Process Introductions) and functionality improvements to help drive additional value for the end users. PTC is targeting new partnerships with key technology solutions, using IoT as an enabling technology to integrate the extended-supply-chain.
A customer session came after lunch; Nicole Jones, Director of Product Technologies at Lane Bryant (subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group) presented ‘You’re live with FlexPLM! Now what?’
Nicole is an active member of the PTC User FlexPLM Technical Counsel, and has led the FlexPLM implementation across 3 brands under the Ascena umbrella. Nicole discussed the notion of necessary changes within the platform, to coordinate with changes within their business. She gave suggestions on how to keep moving forward with FlexPLM and continue growing with the system, as opposed to against it.
Nicole made some fantastic points. She emphasized the need for a great team of dedicated enthusiasts. After ‘going live’ with a PLM solution, businesses need to support their users, using smart people that fully understand the end-to-end design and development process and, more importantly, they need to communicate with each user in a timely manner. She stated that the first couple of seasons are the most difficult, whilst all team members familiarize themselves with the solution.
Nicole shared her thoughts on exactly who a business can utilise: business analysts with strong RFA business backgrounds, technical experts who can work together with the vendor (in this case, of course PTC) and implementation consultant (ITC Infotech) teams.
Evolution of the processes and supporting systems is continuous; once you think you’ve got the process right, its time to re-engineer. Put excellently by Nicole, “you will need to be a cheerleader, coach and sometimes therapist!”
With regards to training, she couldn’t have put it better. People often view training as an “after thought”, and Nicole stressed how crucial training is to any project. The right amount will make the difference between a successful project and a failure.
Nicole delivered a very inspirational presentation that went down well with all attendees. She concluded with an important message on the “big picture”. All too often businesses don’t share with their teams the entire journey; the more your users (including supply-chain partners) know, the better the process and end result will be.
The retail track concluded on 18th with PTC’s ‘Retail PLM Roadmap Update’. The retail PLM and IoT roadmap presentation was delivered by Quach Hai, Product Management Senior Director. Unfortunately for our readers, the details of this session will remain private and confidential to LiveWorx attendees. What I can share with you are future areas of focus for Retail IoT & PLM that Hai discussed, including vendor-driven product development, timing of the next Windchill release, new UI/UX usability, and of course, the Internet of “important” Things in retail. PTC has a strategy on how IoT technology can be used to enhance and support the decision-making process within PLM and it will be exciting to see how this develops in 2016.
I think congratulations are in order to the PTC team for a very interesting and stimulating event. I, for one, am intrigued to learn more on how IoT is going to help revolutionise the Retail supply-chain.
*In 2016 WhichPLM will focus our 6th Edition Report on the Internet of Things and will help to support the education of IoT.