Once a Developer, Now a Product Manager: ThingWorx Fun Never Fades
Today I’m here with a very exciting guest—Janie! Janie recently joined PTC after spending the last two years at a global professional services firm where she held many roles including that of a lead ThingWorx developer. While Janie did do some font-end development work and UI creation, the bulk of her time was spent on the backend writing services that enabled the application’s functionality. In this role, she not only wrote code herself, she also played a large part in the in-platform architectural decisions, determining the best way to utilize the platform in order to satisfy complex business requirements.
Throughout her last two years, she worked on various IIoT projects in the manufacturing industry developing a real-time asset health monitoring and OEE/production tracking application to monitor key metrics like downtime and output. For each customer engagement an assessment of IoT platforms was often undertaken in order to assess strengths and weaknesses based off-of the business requirements of the customer and while she spent time looking into a variety of platforms, ThingWorx always came out on top.
That said, her experience with ThingWorx showed her how much and how quickly that technology can can change the way a manufacturing company operates. She decided that instead of doing implementations of the technology, she wanted to have an impact on the technology itself and have a hand in the direction it goes and the way it continues to change the businesses we know today. This desire is what led her to product management and the role she currently holds at PTC today.
I recently sat down with Janie to hear how it has been moving from a developer on the platform to a PM for it to learn about her past ThingWorx experiences and how those will influence the work she does at PTC.
Here’s how our convo went.
Kaya: In your previous role as an IoT developer at another company, what made you choose ThingWorx over other IoT solution platforms? Janie: We chose ThingWorx over other IoT platforms due to its strong ability to connect such a wide variety of machines using ThingWorx Industrial Connectivity via Kepware, its industry-leading standing in the market and the fact that it did not require its users to have extensive development knowledge given its low-code environment, which enabled non-developers to be successful.
Kaya: Why do you think ThingWorx saved you time over other development platforms/products?
Janie: There were three key ways the platform helped to save me time. First, I didn’t have to write code from scratch. For example, when needing to manipulate arrays or parse through uploaded csv files, there were pieces of code readily available for me to do so without having to know how to do it by myself. Second, due to the widgets ThingWorx already had available, I didn’t have to spend time making custom front-end UIs or widgets. And, thirdly, I saved a ton of time during the connectivity phase because connectivity to devices was supported OOTB through Kepware’s extensive suite of drivers available including some of the key ones we utilized such as Allen-Bradley Control Logix, Modbus, Siemens, and user configurable drivers.
Kaya: Along the lines of saving time, how would your experience with the platform have differed had you leveraged one of our manufacturing apps like Production KPIs? Janie: As I talked about previously, having access to a pre-built solution would have evidently saved a ton of development time and accelerated time to value. It also would have reduced the complexity of our completed app, which would have made it more scalable. While I understand the Manufacturing apps are not 100% ready-to-go out of the box but rather configurable stepping stones into a larger and mole holistic solution, if we could have had Production KPI’s as our development starting point, we would have had a more sound and already proven way of tackling Production and OEE tracking and could have added even more value on top of that.
Kaya: What were some of your favorite aspects about the platform? Janie: The code-snippets to get started were a big favorite, as were the OOTB widgets that allowed for quick visualization of important data. The OOTB industrial connectivity with seamless integration to ThingWorx was huge—we were able to connect multiple devices and stream information in real-time with little difficulty, which enabled us to derive even more value from the platform and really focus on becoming a fully smart and connected operation. Finally, the drag-and-drop UI was simple and intuitive.
Kaya: What do you think the top misconception is about IoT? Janie: I would say repeatability. Scaling an IoT solution across an enterprise is not as simple as it is often represented. I know we’re releasing a new functionality to help users more easily deploy their solutions, so I’m excited about that.
Kaya: So, now that you work as PM for the platform, what were a few things you wish you knew as a developer working on ThingWorx? Janie: Seeing everything we’re working on for the platform now is very exciting; I wish I could have been more aware of what’s on the roadmap so I knew what was coming as I was developing on the platform.
Kaya: On a similar note, now that you are working on the ThingWorx PM team, what items are you hoping to drive/change based on your experience? Janie: First, I’d like to drive stronger interaction with our system integrators (SIs) and partners by providing them insights into our roadmaps and allowing for them to provide feedback in a more seamless way. Next, I’d like to improve upon our essential platform developer capabilities, such as CI/CD, debugging, versioning, testing, etc. That said, Solution Central and PTC’s commitment to and integration with Microsoft products are very exciting roadmap features for me.
Kaya: I completely agree. Those are some great points. As I’m sure you’re aware, but our readers might not be aware of, we are working within the platform itself and a new feature, Solution Central, to provide more of that basic functionality so that, in addition to building blocks, low-code and a drag-and-drop UI, we can continue to help you accelerate your time to value.
Readers, I hope you enjoyed hearing from Janie! We’re excited to have her on the ThingWorx team and we look forward to making ThingWorx even stronger.