5 Takeaways from the Future of Industrial Innovation Events

Written By: Nicholas Leeder
  • 1/9/2020
  • Read Time : 4 min

I was trying to think of one word that could summarize the Future of Industrial Innovation Executives events that PTC and the Financial Times launched this November and December. I have settled on “watershed”, as the events have shown to the audience that digital transformation has come of age.

The event series has toured New York, London, and Chicago over the past eight weeks and will continue on to Munich, Tokyo, and Paris. Participants left the events inspired and excited about the impact that digital transformation can have on their organizations. The events were a unique fusion of thought leadership, demonstration, interactive discussion, and real user insights. What made these events unique was that they were about real digital transformations that are live today, rather than theories created on PowerPoint. Before I get into the takeaways, watch the below video to get a glimpse into what to expect at the event: 




And now, here are the five key takeaways I had from the three events so far:


1. Digital transformation is driving real business value right now.

One of the things that made these events so special was the enterprise examples and case studies, which demonstrated that real business impact is being delivered today. Companies ranging from PCMC Inc. to Jaguar Land Rover to America Crane, and GE Healthcare described their digital transformation journey and shared their results thus far.

In New York, when Craig Bernero of Dell EMC spoke to Craig Melrose, EVP of Digital Transformation Solutions at PTC, about Dell EMC’s digital transformation journey, he described their laser focus on customer impact through service and product differentiation -- and how their initiatives around that objective are creating measurable value and growth for their business.


In Chicago, Dan Phillips from Regal Beloit discussed his company's digital transformation in detail, going beyond hype and buzzwords. By mining value from their data, their customers saw additional value-add over their competition. This product-to-service transformation allowed Regal Beloit to grow in new markets between 15 percent to 50 percent!

2. The most powerful digital transformation solutions unleash the power of machine, digital information and humans.

It was clear from the first three events that companies have moved on from exploring the potential of digital transformation solutions and onto how they unleash the power of machines, digital information, and their greatest asset – their workforce.

PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann and Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter, who co-authored three Harvard Business Review articles together, discussed how companies can fully utilize these assets in the enterprise. The cornerstone to releasing the benefits from machines, digital information, and humans was the connectivity of humans through augmented reality (AR).

DP Parakash, Head of Global Innovation at Global Foundries, shared how his company has implement AR and is seeing meaningful business impact during his interview with Melrose at the New York event. He described their implementation of AR solutions as “turning the corner to be a powerful business tool driving real impact.” Their use case is so compelling that the CEO drives the adoption.

3. First mover advantage is not enough…those who scale fastest will succeed.

Much of the conversation during the panel discussion in London revolved around how to deliver on the promise of digital transformation. Topics ranged from how to get value from business data to turning the transformation discussion from “what will it cost me” to “what benefits can it bring me.”

Wim Gysegom of McKinsey & Company commented that the days of IoT single pilots are over. His observation, which was widely agreed to by the panelists and audience, was that companies that scaled their digital transformation initiatives fastest were the ones receiving the greatest benefits and the most relevant success stories.

The companies designing a digital transformation strategy with scale in mind are the ones which are succeeding and avoiding proof-of-concept purgatory.

4. At the core of any digital transformation is people.

A key sign that the age of digital transformation is now upon us was that much of the conversations at the events moved away from the technology itself and onto how organizations are tackling the challenges of implementing at scale.

In London, Rodrigo Dauster, Senior Director of Digital Business Transformation at Carlsberg Group, discussed how Carlsberg is utilizing digital solutions to de-risk and accelerate their own change programs. He remarked that “70 percent of the change is people related, 10 percent is technology” for their smart breweries.

In Chicago, Zia Yusuf of Boston Consulting Group reinforced this statement by proposing that for a digital transformation to be successful, you need to engage your people and invite them to be part of the creation process. He stated, “If culture eats strategy for lunch, it eats digital transformation for dinner...”. So true.

5. Not all benefits can be measured in dollars.

This was THE most profound moment in all the events so far and one that each and every person in the London event took note of. Paul Bergström, EVP and Head of Global Services at Elekta, described the impact that making their products smart and connected had on patient care.

When their machines don’t work, it is not just annoying... it affects people’s lives.


Bergström described how Elekta had used digital solutions to move to a predictive maintenance model. This avoided clinical downtime, which amounted to over 60,000 additional clinical appointments each year!

If ever I have heard a case for adopting digital technologies for the better, that was it.

Final Thoughts

I am sure we have all heard these points many times before but what made these events different was that the audience heard from companies who were genuinely adopting and driving the mantra forward. It is this focus on business impact and the new challenge of scale which made these events a watershed moment.

If this short reflection has piqued your interest, then you still have an opportunity in 2020 to join us at an event near you. Why not register for one of the events below?

Munich, Germany, Jan. 30, 2020, Gaszählerwerkstatt (Gas Meter Workshop) 
Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 20, 2020, Mandarin Oriental 
Paris, France, March 19, 2020, Hotel Shangri-La, Paris

If you would like to read more of my commentary and reflection of the above events and previous comments, connect with me on LinkedIn!


  • Connected Devices
  • Digital Transformation
  • Industry 4.0
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Augmented Reality
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • PLM

About the Author

Nicholas Leeder

Nicholas Leeder serves as Vice President, Head of Digital Transformation Group, at PTC. He has a passion for helping companies capitalize on digital transformation and Industry 4.0 and realize measurable results and business value. As one of the leading thought leaders and advisers in Europe around the digital changes in engineering and operations, he shares his practical business and technology experience developed from over 20 years of assisting companies gain the maximum value from these transformations.