Earlier today, I attended the first-ever Onshape virtual customer event – Onshape Live 21. Since I’ve been following Onshape for a long time since their first public Beta was launched. Onshape’s first customer event was an interesting place to watch where Onshape is growing. According to PTC CEO, Jim Hepplemann, Onshape got access to the deep pockets of PTC resources and it was growing in different ways – hiring, development, acquisitions. The revenue grew by ~30% according to Jon Hirschtick.
PTC Product Development Vision
My favorite part of the keynote was Jim Hepplemann’s vision about the future of SaaS and product development expansion. The thing that resonated with me the most is a network business. Network-based platforms are playing a big role in modern technological development. The platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and others are connecting people together and allowing them to provide a service to these groups of people.
Jim Hepplemann’s made a comparison between Uber connecting driver and passenger to provide a service with Onshape Project that allows a group of engineers to collaborate together to build a new product.
Here is PTC’s product development vision using Onshape Projects
I think it is a bold vision and it triggers a lot of thinking about what can happen next. Here are a couple of my thoughts about PTC Uber’s vision for Onshape.
To become a true network platform similar to Uber or Airbnb or similar players, PTC Onshape must figure out multiple aspects of this platform – design, community, business. sustainability and growth.
Onshape multi-tenant platform is a clear winner to provide a foundation for network-based platforms to develop products. Companies can get on the platform to create data and share information between team members. Onshape is one of the very few engineering systems that have such multi-tenant architecture and provides services and tools to people, teams, and organizations to get together without some additional IT support required in old fashion CAD and PLM systems.
One common thing between all network-based platforms is that they provide a transactional (business) connection between people or organizations. The foundation of such relationships is a business both parties can do – Driver-Passenger; Apartment Host-Guest, etc. The project can be considered as the foundation of the network business only in the case companies (collaborators) are involved in the business, which is enabled by the platform. PTC/Onshape doesn’t have it yet and Jim Hepplemann didn’t mention anything that will give a hint on how Onshape network business will be created.
Onshape achieved a 1M educational users mark. This is a big deal and Onsahpe presented an impressive demo of how educational institutions are using Onshape to teach future engineers.
Jon Hirschtick was talking about the Onshape ecosystem. Jon is one of these true leaders in building communities and I found his slide and analogy of the solar system brilliant to present the vision of users as a center of the Onshape universe. Similar to Solidworks in the past, Jon is building Onshape as a true customer brand.
What is my conclusion?
PTC’s grand vision is to transform the product development business. It is a very bold vision and Jim Hepplemann clearly leads the PTC ship towards changing the trajectory of system development and bringing new technologies and tools. Onshape is a powerful design platform foundation and PTC investment into Onshape allows Onsahpe to grow faster, develop new features and functions. What is still not clear is how PTC plans to change product development business relationships. To compare Onshape/Atlas with Uber is still a stretch unless PTC holds a strategy of how to establish business transactions into this platform. Nobody did it before in the CAD/PLM world and this is a really interesting opportunity. Will PTC discover how to do so? I don’t have an answer to this question. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.