How Digital Technology Transforms the Physical World: The PTC Story

Written by: Stacy Thompson

Read Time: 5 min

In the business world, disruption can take many forms, from economic instability to changing workforce demographics, and from competition to shifting customer expectations. While disruptive forces must be accepted as a constant – challenging well-established (and even proven successful) business models and strategies – they need not be accepted as a constant threat.

Disruption forces change – and it’s up to organizations to successfully navigate their way through it, turning threat into opportunity.

At PTC, we’re doing just that with one clear solution to the disruptive forces that surround us: digital. The power of digital, amplified in today’s pandemic-era marketplace, isn’t just the technology itself – it’s the change, the true transformation, it enables across all aspects of the business. The products getting designed, manufactured, and serviced. The places (factories, warehouses, offices) where the work gets done. The processes being performed. And the people – the partners, customers, and employees – involved in all those things.

We call this “Digital Transforms Physical” – the idea that digital technology has the ability to transform the physical world. With a heritage of innovation spanning more than 35 years, PTC has developed a unique portfolio of digital technologies – CAD, PLM, IIoT, and AR – delivered on-prem, hybrid, and SaaS, all geared toward improving the world around us. In fact, at PTC, we like to say we don’t just imagine a better world – we help create it.


Let’s take a deeper look into the ways digital is transforming the world around us:

Compete Today

In recent years, companies across the globe have accelerated digital transformation adoption. There’s a reason for that: Research shows digital investments made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed companies to respond with greater agility and that companies not already pursuing digital transformation are investing now to keep pace in a largely digital world.

At PTC, we support our customers – largely industrial organizations – in their digital transformation pursuits; it’s both our purpose and our passion to help our customers compete effectively in a marketplace rife with disruption.

Each of our technologies is a powerhouse in its own right, but what differentiates PTC is the ability for our technologies to work together to realize greater value – faster – for our customers. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts with what we call digital thread.

With a digital thread, companies can create a closed loop between the digital and physical aspects of their business. With technologies like CAD, PLM, IIoT, and AR all working together, digital processes are introduced to analyze, manage, and communicate information across departments and functions, allowing decisions to be made faster and more accurately. Cloud computing and SaaS solutions allow further connection and collaboration across geographic, department, and enterprise boundaries, linking the whole value chain.

In fact, as we look toward the future, PTC is investing in SaaS because it’s what our customers are telling us they need. Building on our Onshape and Arena acquisitions in recent years, PTC is accelerating our transition to SaaS, with cloud-native and hybrid technologies now complementing many of our existing technologies and allowing our customers to innovate faster, collaborate better, and keep pace with the shifting marketplace dynamic.

Prepare for Tomorrow

Technology innovation is at the forefront of our minds at PTC; it’s part of our heritage and our future. Across four decades, we have looked to invent and invest in the next generation of digital technology that industrial companies need to remain competitive. While our portfolio has expanded, our commitment to innovate each technology while looking toward what’s next has remained constant. We’re actively exploring how artificial intelligence, SaaS, and the concepts of spatial computing and digital twin can be integrated into our technologies and transform how industrial companies operate now and in the future.

The PTC Reality Lab, a dedicated team of researchers exploring the intersection of the digital and physical worlds, is, for example, actively exploring practical ways industrial spaces can better harness spatial computing. This technology has the potential to digitally transform how industrial companies optimize operations for frontline workers in their factories, worksites, and warehouses.

Our researchers are also exploring the ways artificial intelligence – already present in generative design and predictive service – can become more prevalent in our technologies to help solve some of the toughest challenges in the coming years. Among them is spatial analytics, designed to analyze movements, performance, and downtimes, all contextualized in space. For factories, this could be a game-changing technology, offering real-time insights and feedback on process and workforce optimization.

Disruption doesn’t stop – and neither does PTC as we look to find new ways for digital technology to prepare our customers for the future.

Embrace the World Around Us

Transformation is necessary to survive and thrive in a changing world. Digital technology has proven itself to be a powerful force for continuity and growth against a backdrop of disruption. But it’s not just technology itself that’s helping to navigate through changing conditions – it’s embracing all of the ways digital technology can improve the world around us, including how we work, how we live, and how we learn.

At PTC, we believe everyone has the ability to harness their “Power to Create” – as in, the power to create solutions to solve for the tough challenges of today while imaging a better future. In recent years, as the world has grappled with an unprecedented global pandemic, critical issues of social injustice and equality have persisted.  As an organization, PTC has risen to the challenge, with our President & CEO Jim Heppelmann becoming one of the first CEOs to sign the Compact for Social Justice – and with the organization as a whole coming together as a community, partnering with and expanding our employee resource groups (ERGs), hosting global listening sessions, and more.

In our newly released Corporate Social Responsibility report, PTC showcases how our technology enables innovators, collaborators, and problem-solvers of all types to address society’s greatest long-term challenges like public health, disparities in education, and climate change. From designing more sustainable products to giving back to our communities and empowering our employees, partners, and customers, we are united by our shared purpose: To drive meaningful change and take bold action to create an environment where we can all be our best.

Final Thoughts

Disruption can take many forms, from global pandemics to civil unrest to shifting workforce demographics. But, if there’s one common denominator in the gamut of disruptive forces that threatens the status quo, it’s that disruption forces change.

At PTC, we believe that digital technology is the clear path to successfully navigate the disruption that surrounds us, and we’re committed to using digital innovation to improve the world around us.

Digital Transforms Physical

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Tags: Digital Transformation Digital Thread SaaS

About the Author

Stacy Thompson Stacy Thompson is the Director of Corporate Content Marketing at PTC. She has more than a decade of experience in content, SEO, and social media development, B2B and B2C communications, demand generation campaigns, and analytics/content measurement. She is also a Professor of Content Strategy in Kent State University’s User Experience Design Master’s program.