As Liveworx 2019 — which organizers describe as the “definitive event for digital transformation” — wraps up at the Boston Convention Center, several thousand attendees will likely return to their corporate homes charged up and ready to implement change.
But for some IT professionals, their enthusiasm may fade as budgetary constraints and a corporate culture focused on other issues thwart implementation of a variety of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and Internet of Things platforms.
Overall, Liveworx, presented by PTC along with sponsors such as Accenture, Deloitte, Microsoft and Rockwell Automation, offered attendees a chance to reimagine how to transform their businesses digitally by automating and enhancing routine and conventional processes across the supply chain. The event featured hundreds of educational tracks across industries such as aerospace and defense, life sciences, manufacturing, and retail and fashion, among other segments.
Keynote speakers included: Jim Heppelmann, president and chief executive officer or PTC; Michelle McKenna,, senior vice president and chief information officer of the National Football League, and Pattie Maes, professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, among others. The event also offered ample time for IT professionals from across various industries to mingle, network and have fun. There were social mixers in the evening, which included a “Game of Thrones”-themed event.
For retail and fashion brand attendees, the educational tracks focused on technologies, tactics and strategies across the supply chain and product life-cycle process as well as advanced analytics and consumer insights. With certain platforms and solutions, retail and fashion is still catching up in many ways in regard to implementing technology.
During a panel session moderated by Ben Hanson, senior analyst at Which PLM, “Using Artificial Intelligence to Transform Product Development — From Planning to Commercialization,” the presenters discussed how AI can accelerate success by automating mundane tasks. Speakers included Tim Andreae, vice president of global alliance at First Insight; Quach Hai, vice president of product management at PTC; Bala Mandani, senior manager of product development systems at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Jordan Reynolds, digital innovation officer at Kalypso.
When asked how many attendees were using AI, none raised their hands. The showing revealed some of the issues facing IT teams in fashion and retail: a reluctance to make investments in technologies that might be seen as a threat to the create process of merchandising or fashion design. But the presenters stressed that AI’s use would be to enhance and streamline product development processes, which would free up designers and creative directors to focus on their creativity.
Investments in IoT have been met with similar resistance, despite companies that are seeing robust returns on investment in the technology. Raja Shanmugam, global head of business development for IoT at Tata Consultancy Services, penned a blog post at the event this week that triggered a lot of buzz among attendees.
Shanmugam noted that the “IoT journey starts with a lot of bang, but over some period, these initiatives lose their momentum or move like a snail.” Compared with several years ago, Shanmugam said the “scene is not that bad now” and said the “situation has definitely improved over the last two years. I have seen some of my customers achieving exponential value within 12 months of their IoT projects launched. Isn’t it amazing? Then why are they successful and many are still scratching the surface?”
Shanmugam believes it has to do with companies not fully realizing the business value of implementing IoT. The author said IoT is “not a technology or a support function. This understanding is not the same across all the functions of the organization.”
Without support from the c-suite and business teams, IoT initiatives “face challenges of a restricted budget and henceforth die.” The cure is to show the returns and tout business outcomes from the onset.