Out with the old and in with the new. PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann might not agree, but that is pretty much what he is saying about the IoT (Internet of Things) these days and maybe even about some of his less than active partners.

Heppelmann has never been a man to mince words and that is perhaps why he is proving to be one of the most, if not the most, effective leaders in helping companies trying to make some real headway into the fast and furious digital transformation that we are now all calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

But make no mistake, PTC shareholders are absolutely holding Heppelemann’s feet to the fire and keeping a very watchful eye on every move he makes. Many of them were active at LiveWorx18 this year in Boston, trolling the halls and asking customers and media questions about PTC’s most recent moves.

Perhaps most notably its decision to get so intimate with its new partner Rockwell Automation. However, some observers are confident this strategic move will help to fulfil the smart factory gap that currently exists offering all sorts of riches. However, on the other hand, the $1 billion partnership had many asking why Rockwell Automation is investing so much in PTC just to have a seat at the table, while at the same time leaving existing partner GE (General Electric) somewhat dateless on a Saturday night.

Heppelmann stated to all of media during a press conference that the GE partnership has not been as active, and GE has had it eyes on its own digital goals, so to speak. So, this left all of us to ascertain that it is not divorcing GE, but it is enjoying the company of Rockwell. This isn’t a break up, but there sure are a lot of moving parts for sure.

PTC is really looking at the AR (augmented reality) now with its Vuforia technology and what it can do in the industrial space with the Kepware solution, the ThingWorx IoT platform, coupled with Rockwell’s FactoryTalk and MES (manufacturing execution apps).

Now let’s be clear. Rockwell needs PTC in a big way. It has not been able to penetrate the IoT and this investment gives it a big seat at the table that otherwise would have taken years to attain.

Rob Patterson, vice president of product marketing, Technology Platform Group insists this now gives PTC, “One source of truth.” But if you dig a little deeper, under the automation rocks, some might say this partnership is giving Siemens a little wakeup call. But that’s for the industrial space to decide.

The other piece of the puzzle that Mr. Heppelmann also worked so hard to solve is simulation. He announced an interesting partnership with software specialist Ansys that would be integrated directly into Creo.

The result here is the PTC is moving into the industrial space and it is working with companies that have the depth and breadth to help it achieve those goals in the digital space. Whether Heppelmann acquire, merges, or partners is not the question. It’s just a matter of how it keeps the money train moving for investors. It’s all about being prepared to change. And for customers that means keeping them on a very fast track throughout the Fourth Industrial Revolution. All aboard!

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