6 Takeaways from PTC LiveWorx 2023
Written By: Nancy White
5/19/2023 Read Time : 6 min

Are we in the golden days of the product lifecycle world?

If you were at PTC LiveWorx 2023, it would be tough not to give a resounding ‘yes’.

PTC’s signature event highlighted the latest and greatest in digital transformation for industrial companies over four days in Boston. To give you a sense of the event, some key numbers:

  • 10,000+ in-person and virtual attendees
  • 70+ tech demonstrations
  • 320+ session, trainings, breakouts
  • 4 days of networking, learning, and fun
  • 1 incredible concert from country music star Dierks Bentley (!!)

The entire PTC ecosystem came out for the event, showcasing how PTC and its partners are supporting customers to design better products, manufacture more efficiently, and deliver superior service.

There was a lot to take in, so we put together six of the key themes and ideas that bubbled to the top of conversation throughout the event. If you want to catch up on any of the LiveWorx keynotes (and many other sessions), check out LiveWorx On Demand. More will be added daily so check back often.

1. Closing the loop with digital thread

One of the recurring themes throughout the show was the power of the digital thread, in particular a model-based digital thread. This concept was illustrated by an infinity loop (see below) and how data about a physical product can be accessed across engineering, manufacturing, and service.


“The digital thread unlocks data across the value chain, ensuring all participants utilize the most current data and can react quickly to changes or new insights,” said Abby Eon, who leads the Digital Thread portfolio at PTC. >>Watch her full session on Expanding the Value of Digital Thread.

On the Xtropolis show floor, there were showcases of the digital thread in action through customer examples, like Vestas and Volvo Group.

One of the demonstrations showed how Volvo Group is adding value to their core products with the foundation of a model-based digital thread. As safety is a core value and differentiator to Volvo, one of the applications they’ve developed is a mobile app to guide first responders in an emergency. Some of their larger commercial vehicles have high voltage areas and other safety concerns that could put responders at risk. They created an augmented reality app to show safety personnel how to safely approach the truck. Because of their powerful digital thread, which has a digital definition of components, they’ve been able to create a library of 1,500 different variations of that truck delivered in the app.

Taking what they’ve learned from this project, they’re actively exploring ways to bring this technology into other areas, like empowering service technicians.

At PTC and its customers, the service side of the infinity loop is becoming more integrated following the acquisition of ServiceMax earlier this year. The goal is for customers to more easily “close the loop” and bring insights from real-world product performance back to product engineering and design and bring data from the digital product definition into service use cases.

2. Chance favors the connected mind

To kick off day 3 of LiveWorx, author, TV host and podcaster Steven Johnson shared that “truly transformative ideas tend to evolve over years and come into the world as a slow hunch.” In other words, innovation is never a single “Eureka” moment, but rather the product of slow progression.

With many attendees regularly grappling with moving faster, driving efficiency, and solving critical challenges, the idea that innovation comes from steady progress is reassuring.

Through a series of stories, Johnson shared some ways we all can create an environment and head space that nurtures those big ideas. These included:

  • Collaborating across disciplines
  • Setting aside time for open-ended play through hobbies
  • Considering the unintended consequences of ideas

Being part of what he called a “liquid network,” where ideas flow freely and passionately, offers the best chance to innovate. “Almost every transformative idea comes not just out of an individual’s single idea, but a network,” Johnson said. LiveWorx certainly felt like this kind of place!

>>> Watch Johnson’s full keynote “Where Good Ideas Come From.”


3. Sustainability is good for the planet and good for business

Environmental sustainability was a key focus area throughout the conference. Attendees not only heard about the ways that technology can help them create more sustainable products  issue—they also saw tangible efforts.

“For those of us focused on the manufacturing sector we know that this sector accounts for 54% of global energy consumption – leaving room for great improvement,” said Catherine Kniker, PTC’s Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer.

Making strides in this area is vital for multiple reasons. Of course, the primary one is slowing climate change and preserving our beautiful planet for future generations. But there are also opportunities for businesses to reduce costs via dematerialization, more efficient energy management, and waste reduction. There is growing interest and pressure from business partners, customers, employees, shareholders, and governments to make significant strides in this area.

To support customers in their sustainability efforts, PTC is expanding relationships with Ansys and aPriori. Ansys Granta for materials management will be integrated into PTC products to assist with more sustainable product design and improve traceability. aPriori will complement Ansys Granta by offering insights on manufacturability, costs, and carbon footprint.

PTC announced its own commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative, which calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a net zero emissions goal by 2050.

4. Agile: Design hardware like software

More companies than ever before are using Agile methodologies to design and manufacture products. What was once primarily a software initiative is now making its way to hardware development, in part because of the availability of cloud-based tools to support the process.

If you’re not familiar, Agile is a project management strategy that breaks down large projects into shorter “sprints” with set goals and objectives. At LiveWorx, one of the foremost experts in the field, MIT Professor Steven Eppinger, gave what could be described as Agile 101 for Product Design. He outlined why it’s happening now, why it’s worthwhile, and the adjustments that need to be made to make it work effectively for hardware.

>>> Watch the full session with Professor Eppinger.

Eppinger discussed making Agile work for hardware often requires certain adjustments. You can’t do Agile exactly like it’s done in software, but you can adapt the key principles to get similar benefits.

PTC’s cloud-native and SaaS products, like Onshape, Arena, and Codebeamer, pair well with Agile processes and in businesses where speed is a priority and teams may be distributed.

Want to learn more about how to use Agile for product development? Eppinger, along with PTC’s Jon Hirschtick, co-founder of Onshape and SolidWorks, wrote a primer on the topic, Transitioning to Agile: How to Design Hardware Like Software.

5. Embracing SaaS

The tipping point for enterprise SaaS is here, literally: Last year, for the first time, more B2B software sold as SaaS than on-premise. LiveWorx demonstrated that PTC is moving swiftly in that direction; a full 25% of PTC’s business is now delivered as SaaS, with that part of the business outgrowing on-premise by a significant margin.

“If you want to transform your business to capitalize on the strategies I’ve been discussing today, and you want to do it in the easiest, fastest, and most efficient way, then you will ultimately want PTC’s technology portfolio delivered to you as a service,” CEO Jim Heppelmann said.  

Creo+, the latest core product to be delivered as SaaS (among other benefits), debuted at LiveWorx alongside the major enhancements available in Creo 10. Windchill+ and Kepware+ were launched last year.

The benefits of SaaS were woven into many of the presentations, with real-time collaboration, lower cost of ownership, and enhanced cybersecurity frequently mentioned.

Find out more about PTC’s SaaS transformation and strategy.


6. Intentional risk and expanding your comfort zone

Alex Honnold, renowned 'Free Solo' climber and environmentalist, and Jimmy Chin, adventure-athlete and documentarian, took the stage on the last day of LiveWorx. The inspiring duo discussed risk-taking, the power of preparation, and how visualizing the very worst is actually helpful.

Honnold, who has done some of the most daring climbs in the history of the sport (i.e. climbing El Capitan without ropes or harnesses (watch “Free Solo”), talked about taking an intentional approach to risks. In his rock climbing, every risk and obstacle are carefully considered and prepared for.

His message was clear: Through diligent training, consistent effort, and constant progression, you’re able to confidently take on risks to accomplish your goals...no matter how large or daring they may be.

With that physical and mental preparation, doing the actual thing doesn’t feel so hard. “It feels like you’re doing something you know you can do. You’re so confident, you don’t feel like anything will go wrong,” Honnold said.

Chin agreed, adding there were two great risks in life: risking too much and risking too little: “There’s a cost to both.”

Digital transformation may seem like an unfathomable challenge when you first start plotting it out, but with small steps and constant progress you can make it to the top!

Get LiveWorx On Demand

PTC LiveWorx 2023 is in the rearview mirror, but the lessons learned, experiences had, and relationships built, will have a lasting impact.

If you missed any of the action, the LiveWorx keynotes and many other sessions are available on LiveWorx On Demand.

LiveWorx On Demand Explore recorded content from LiveWorx 2023 with presentations featuring the latest in ALM, AR, Agile Product Development, CAD, Sustainability, IIoT, PLM, Service, and more. Click Here
Tags: CAD Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Industrial Internet of Things Augmented Reality Agile Closed-Loop Quality Digital Thread Digital Transformation SaaS Sustainability Corporate Update
About the Author Nancy White

Nancy White is the content marketing manager for the Corporate Brand team at PTC. A journalist turned content marketer, she has a diverse writing background—from Fortune 500 companies to community newspapers—that spans more than a decade.