With its earlier acquisition of ThingWorx, PTC made it very clear that it sees the Internet of Things to be at the core of next-generation product (PLM) and service (SLM) lifecycle management. To further deliver on this vision, the company has now added another key piece in Axeda, which it has agreed to acquire for approximately US$170m in cash. This compares to the $112m PTC paid for ThingWorx.
While ThingWorx was fairly laser-focused on enabling application development through a visual user interface, Axeda’s value proposition addresses more distinctly the deployment and operation of an application. In essence, its technology allows collecting data streams from the connected products and sensors, and moving them securely to the enterprise backend. Like in the case of ThingWorx, these are activities that enterprises can – laboriously – do in-house, but by turning to a right kind of technology supplier they can significantly cut down the time and the investment this requires.
It’s worth stressing that in this context connected product as a term does not really refer to home appliances and other B2C plays, but to much more expensive and generally business-critical B2B and B2B2C products. The security of created connections, as well as their scalable integration with other enterprise systems, is a fundamental part of any such deployment. As indicated by PTC’s press release, this is pretty much what Axeda brings to the table from the buyer’s point of view.
What is now becoming particularly interesting is how other PLM leaders – such as Siemens, Oracle, Dassault Systèmes, and SAP – will respond to PTC’s challenge. PTC is evidently taking a very direct approach to enabling connected and intelligent products. At the same time, none of the main rivals, their other group activities notwithstanding, is displaying a similar vision when it comes to approaching the IoT specifically as a PLM/SLM issue. If these companies want to catch up in this sense they will soon have their work cut out for them.