Digital Thread Is an Industry Game Changer, and Jim Heppelmann Is the MVP

Written by: Nick Iandolo

Read Time: 3 min

Improving time-to-market and cost (top and bottom lines) by becoming a true digital organization is foremost on the mind of every manufacturer. CIOs worldwide have been tasked with establishing seamless process and data-driven collaboration between disciplines that is both open-standards based and secure. Providing the connection that synchronizes related upstream and downstream information for developing new innovative products and improving existing ones is the digital thread.

Digital thread, managed and orchestrated by PLM, is changing the game in the world of creating, manufacturing, selling, and servicing, products in new and exciting ways.

Leader of the PLM Pack 

Showcasing these limitless possibilities is none other than PTC’s Jim Heppelmann, CEO and President.

In fact,, a leading online digital publication dedicated to helping engineers keep up to speed with the latest innovations and skills, named Heppelmann The Leading PLM Visionary. The article compared Heppelmann to his counterparts at Dassault Systémes (CEO Bernard Charles) and Siemens (PLM chief Tony Hemmelgarn).

What differentiates Heppelmann from the PLM pack is that he can actually deliver on PTC’s bold PLM and digital thread visions.

Marc Halpern, a Gartner analyst, states in the article that, “Jim Heppelmann maybe has the strongest story of all in the PLM and beyond the PLM area.”

The qualities that differentiate PTC from its competitors include a tightly-integrated but open suite of digital thread technologies that seamlessly link together platforms from the Industrial Internet of Things, augmented reality and mixed reality (AR/MR), CAD-based digital twins, to manufacturing execution systems (MES).

Digital Spectacle

This was all driven home by the spectacular digital thread performance Heppelmann and engineers from Volvo gave at LiveWorx 2019. Like Steve Jobs at the Word Wide Developers Conference, Heppelmann blew the minds of the audience with both his charisma and PTC’s AR technology mapped to a real-world Volvo truck engine.

With a tablet running Vuforia, he showed how parts of the engine could be identified, broken out into sub-components (from its digital twin data), and serviced all with the touch of virtual buttons.

Heppelmann made it a point that all this data serving up a unique AR adventure would not be possible without Windchill and ThingWorx, and the digital thread behind it all.

Jim Heppelmann, PTC CEO, puts on a grand stage spectacle for the LiveWorx 2019 keynote address.

In fact, he even said, “If you work in PLM, go and ask your boss for a raise!

Digital Game Changer

This is the game-changing power of digital thread.

How so?

Heppelmann also illustrated how digital thread can weave its way through heterogeneous and non-heterogenous systems (from CAD, ERP, to SAP and more). This thread continues to run all the way from the factory floor, through non-contiguous networks, and through to products out in the field (via the industrial Internet of Things). Finally, this thread emerges into the light of digital UIs such as AR and VR—as demonstrated at LiveWorx when Heppelmann walked around a VR factory floor that exists in real-time.

“No one brings the story together better than Heppelmann," said Verdi Ogewell, Editor-in-Chief of VerkstadsForum PLM Magazine and

Learn more about leveraging the new digital thread-powered PLM for your manufacturing enterprise.

Tags: Augmented Reality Industrial Internet of Things Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Industrial Equipment Connected Devices Digital Transformation Digital Twin Industry 4.0

About the Author

Nick Iandolo

Nick Iandolo works for PTC’s PLM Product Marketing Group; he writes content ranging from newsletters, case studies, blog posts, white papers, podcast/webcast scripts, to web-content, and more. He is a marketing/technology writer, UX content writer, digital copywriter, and a journalist whose work has appeared in publications such as Make Tech Easier, Smart Card News, Eduspace, Motif Magazine, and

He has worked for technology, marketing, and media companies from L-1 Identity Solutions, Satcon Technology Corp., SeaChange International, Thunder House Online Marketing Communications, Irma S. Mann Strategic Marketing, to Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center.

Nick’s work covers everything from journalism, marketing communications, business research & analyses, entertainment reviews, fitness tips, YA fiction, to writing about emerging technologies and trends such as Blockchain. He lives with his wife, daughter, and golden retriever in Dedham Mass.