PTC hopes that its study of process will help its CAD customers -- and lead them to buy its non-CAD products
The "P" in PTC stands for "parametric" For now. But after 2 days of presentations (at the recently held press event in Tampa) I heard "process" a thousand times and "parametric" not once, I figure it's a matter of time before PTC changes its name to Process Design Corporation.
In the Beginning...
Parametrics, of course, is how PTC got famous. In the mid 1980s, it introduced Pro/ENGINEER, a parametric, feature-based solid modeler that revolutionized mechanical design. However, these days the parametric label seems too confining. Selling individual design productivity is so last year. The company has decided that in order to grow, it must transcend the confines of engineering and manufacturing divisions, places where the CAD, CAM and CAE game has already been played out.
Growth Through Acquisition
Through acquisition (ten in the last three years), PTC has grown its range of products far beyond its original reason for existence. Many of the acquisitions have added products outside of its core of design, engineering and manufacturing software. For example, the Arbortext acquisition in 2005 gave PTC technical publication software. ITEDO, purchased last year, strengthened its tech pubs offerings. Mathsoft diversified PTC's portfolio even further. PTC also bought Numeta and Aptavis, whoever they are. The list goes on.
Currently, no other major CAD company has as diversified portfolio of products as PTC.
It's All About the Process
How does it propose to sell all these products to customers that may only know about PTC's core products? You guessed it: Process.
You see, mechanical design is just one part of the Process that big manufacturing companies need to be successful. There is calculation, electronic design, data management, technical publication, and so on. And wouldn't you know it, PTC happens to have a product for each part of the Process.
PTC has spent considerable effort to make itself an expert on Process. I was introduced to PTC's Process Road Map at a trade show about 2 years ago. It is a big poster with very small print and lots of boxes and arrows. I had hardly enough time to digest it but it looked like it painstakingly mapped out in the most minute detail how a company should operate. The Process Road Map is close to the company's heart -- literally. One executive carries it folded up in his suit jacket.
During the press event, PTC banged away at the Process drum. We were read the dictionary definition of process--in case we had missed that vital day in elementary school. We were told that no less of an expert than the late W. Edwards Deming had declared "if you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing." Yikes.
PTC is betting that once it has sold the chef the knives, he'll buy your skillet, your silverware, and maybe even your stove.
So how's that been working out? After a few years of acquiring diversified products, I was hoping that PTC would reveal how many many existing CAD customers had purchased ancillary products such as Arbortext or Mathcad. There was nothing about that in the presentations so I asked. PTC declined to answer, saying the company does not release that information but that "products are performing above expectations."