I’m back in my office after the European tour — three weeks, four countries and three conferences — and will be presenting on a webinar this Thursday hosted by Alfresco. I’ll be having a conversation with Dave Giordano, founder and insurance practice lead at Technology Services Group, on how to make insurance claims work better for insurance companies and their customers.
Our expected topics of conversation include:
How claims have become a competitive differentiator in insurance
Challenges in claims processing
Streamlining the ingestion and recognition of digital media and other content
Customer use cases for improving efficiency and automation
Mark Barrenechea was back to close the conference with a quick recap: 3,500 attendees, OpenText Cloud Edition, Google partnership, ethical supply chains, and the talk by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Plus Berner-Lee’s quote of the real reason that the web was created: cat videos!
In addition to the announcements that we heard during the week, Barrenechea also told us about their new partnership with MasterCard to provide integrated payment services in B2B supply chains, and had two MasterCard Enterprise Partnership executives on stage to talk more about it.
The closing ceremonies finished off with another very special guest: singer, songwriter and activist Peter Gabriel. I was familiar with his music career — having had the pleasure to see him live in concert in the past — but didn’t realize the extent of his human rights activism. He talked about his start and career in music, and some of the ways that he’s woven human rights into his career, from writing the timeless anti-apartheid hit about Stephen Biko to starting the WOMAD festival. He’s been involved in the creation of an inter-species internet, and showed a video of a bonobo composing music with him.
Then his band joined him and he played a set! Amazing finish to the week.
We started day 2 of OpenText Enterprise World with a technology keynote by Muhi Majzoub, EVP of Engineering. He opened with a list of their major releases over the last year. He highlighted the upcoming shift to cloud-first containerized deployments of the next generation of their Release 16 that we heard about in Mark Barrenechea’s keynote yesterday, and described the new applications that they have created on the OT2 platform.
We heard about and saw a demo of their Core for Federated Compliance, which allows for federated records and retention management across CMS Core, Content Suite and Documentum repositories, with future potential to connect to other (including non-OpenText) repositories. I’m still pondering the question of when they might force customers to migrate off some of the older platforms, but in the meantime, the content compliance and disposition can be managed in a consolidated manner.
Next was a demo of Documentum D2 integrated with SAP — this already existed for their other content products but this was a direct request from customers — allowing content imported into D2 to support transactions such as purchase orders to be viewed from a Smart View by an SAP user as related documents. They have a strong partnership with SAP, providing enterprise-scale content management as a service on the SAP cloud, integrated with SAP S/4HANA and other applications. They are providing content management as OT2-based microservices, allowing content to be integrated anywhere in the SAP product stack.
AppWorks also made an appearance: this is OpenText’s low-code application development platform that also includes their process management capabilities. They have new interfaces for developers and users, including better mobile applications. No demo, however; given that I missed my pre-conference briefing, I’ll have to wait until later today for that.
Majzoub walked through the updates of many of the other products in their portfolio: EnCase, customer experience management, AI, analytics, eDocs, Business Network and more. They have such a vast portfolio that there are probably few analysts or customers here that are interested in all of them, but there are many customers that use multiple OpenText products in concert.
He finished up with more on OT2, positioning it as a platform and repository of services for building applications in any of their product areas. These services can be consumed by any application development environment, whether their AppWorks low-code platform or more technical development tools such as JAVA. An interesting point made in yesterday’s keynote challenges the idea of non-technical users as “citizen developers”: they see low-code as something that is used by [semi-]technical developers to build applications. The reality of low-code may finally be emerging.
They are featuring six new cloud-based applications built on OT2 that are available to customers now: Core for Capital Projects, Core for Supplier Exchange, Core Enhances Integration with CSP, Core Capture, Core for SAP SuccessFactors, and Core Experience Insights. We saw a demo that included the Capital Projects and Supplier Exchange applications, where information was shared and integrated between a project manager on a project and a supplier providing documentation on proposed components. The Capital Projects application includes analytics dashboards to track progress on deliverables and issues.
Good start to the day, although I’m looking forward to more of a technical drill-down on AppWorks and OT2.
OpenText is holding their global Enterprise World back in Toronto for the third year in a row (meaning that they’ll probably move on to another city for next year — please not Vegas) and I’m here for a couple of days for briefings with the product teams and to sit in on some of the sessions.
I attended a session earlier on connecting content and process that was mostly market research presented by analysts John Mancini and Connie Moore — some interesting points from both of them — before going to the opening keynote with CEO/CTO Mark Barrenechea and a few guests including Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Barrenechea started with some information about where OpenText is at now, including their well-ranked positions in analyst rankings for content services platforms (Content Services), supply chain commerce networks (Business Network) and digital process automation (AppWorks). He believes that we’re “beyond digital”, with a focus on information rather than automation. He announced cloud-first versions of their products coming in April 2020, although some products will also be available on premise. Their OT2 Cloud Platform will be sold on a service model; I’m not sure if it’s a full microservice implementation, but it sounds like it’s at least moving in that direction. They’ve also announced a new partnership with Google, with Google Cloud being their preferred platform for customers and the integration of Google Services (such as machine learning) into OpenText EIM; this is on a similar scale to what we’ve seen between Alfresco and Amazon AWS.
The keynote finished with a talk by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, on how the web started, how it’s now used and abused, and what we all can do to make it better.
They wanted to have a single BPM and ECM platform that would span all of their business areas for handling regulatory documentation, and they started in 2015 with their equities operations: not because it was easy, low-hanging fruit, but because it was complex and essential to get it right. They now have 14 applications built on the same framework, and 3,500+ users. Williams said that they specifically liked Alfresco because it doesn’t try to be everything but integrates with other products and services to do functions such as reporting or OCR; this is particularly interesting in the face of other vendor platforms that want to be everything to everyone, and don’t do some of the functions very well.
By 2016, they had rolled out applications in tax operations, which was essential to the changing IRS rules that required foreign banks like RBC to withhold tax on US investments unless clients could prove that they met non-resident requirements. This had to integrate with many of their other operational processes that followed. They also implemented content and process applications for HR due to some of their complex job role management in the UK, reducing dependency on spreadsheets and email for what are essentially core processes.
Like all of the very conservative Canadian financial institutions, their Alfresco implementation is all on premise rather than cloud, although they have cloud ambitions. It’s also important to note that although RBC is Canada’s largest bank, Capital Markets is a relatively small part of it; it will be interesting to see if Williams can carry the Alfresco message to other parts of the organization.
Darren Yetzer, Alfresco’s VP Channel, took us through their partner strategy, and hosted conversations with Bibhakar Pandey of Cognizant and Matt Yanchyshyn of AWS.
The Alfresco partner ecosystem has three divisions:
Global system integrators
Local/regional system integrators
Technology and ISVs
In the breakout discussions that we had earlier in the afternoon, there were various discussions on the strategy focus on vertical use cases, and how partners will need to fill some big part of that need since Alfresco isn’t in the vertical application business. Obviously, Alfresco needs to have more than just a logo salad of partners: they need partners that can work with customer to develop vertical solutions, make sales and extend functionality.
Pandey sees Alfresco’s platform as a way for them quickly create domain-specific content-centric solutions for their clients that include integration with other platforms and systems. They don’t want to have to build that base level of capabilities before starting with their solution development, so see a platform like Alfresco being table stakes for working effectively as an SI. Cognizant works with a broad scope of customer organizations, but Pandey highlighted insurance as one vertical that is ripe for the content capabilities offered via Alfresco’s platform. He focused on the cloud-native capabilities of Alfresco as essential, as well as the microservices architecture that allows specific functions to be deployed and scaled independently.
The Amazon AWS partnership is much different and even more significant from a platform functionality point of view: we saw this beginning at last year’s Alfresco Day with the significant announcements about native AWS containerization, and continuing now with the integration of their AI/ML services. Yanchyshyn discussed how Amazon is now developing domain-specific intelligence services, such as Comprehend Medical, and how organizations will start to take advantage of this higher-level starting point for mapping their business use cases onto Amazon’s AI/ML services. He sees Alfresco as being an early adopter of these services, and uses them as an example of what can be done to integrate that into larger platforms.
Bernadette Nixon, who assumed the role of CEO after Alfresco’s acquisition last year, opened the analyst day with the company strategy. They seem to be taking a shot at several of their competitors by pushing the idea that they’re one platform, built from the ground up as a single integrated platform rather than being a “Frankenplatform” pieced together from acquisitions. Arguably, Activiti grew up inside Alfresco as quite a separate project from the content side and I’m not sure it’s really as integrated as the other bits, but Alfresco sometimes forgets that content isn’t everything.
Nixon walked through what’s happened in the past year, starting with some of their customer success stories — wins against mainstream competitors, fast implementations and happy customers — and how they’ve added 126 new customer logos in the past year while maintaining a high customer renewal rate. They’ve maintained a good growth rate, and moved to profitability in order to invest back into the company for customer success, developing their teams, brand refresh, engineering and more. They’ve added many of the big SIs as new partners and are obviously working with the partner channel for success, since they’ve doubled their partner win rate. They’ve added five new products, including their Application Development Framework which is the core for some of the other products as well as the cornerstone of partner and customer success for fast implementation.
They commissioned a study that showed that most organizations want to be deployed in the cloud, have better control over their processes, and be able to create applications faster (wait…they paid for that advice?); more interestingly, they found that 35% of enterprises want to switch out their BPM and ECM platforms in the next few years, providing a huge opportunity for Alfresco and other disruptive vendors.
Alfresco is addressing the basic strategy of a horizontal platform approach versus a use case vertical approach: are they a platform vendor or an application vendor? Their product strategy is betting on their Alfresco Digital Business Platform targeted at the technical buyer, but also developing a go-to-market approach that highlights use cases primarily in government and insurance for the business/operational buyer. They don’t have off-the-shelf apps — that’s for their partners or their customers to develop — but will continue to present use cases that resonate with their target market of financial services, insurance, government and manufacturing.
A good start to the day — I’ll be here all day at the analyst conference, then staying on tomorrow for the user conference.
We started the second day of the OpenText Analyst Summit 2019 with their CFO, Madhu Ranganathan, talking about their growth via acquisitions and organic growth. She claimed that their history of acquisitions shows that M&A does work — a point with which some industry specialists may not agree, given the still overlapping collection of products in their portfolio — but there’s no doubt that they’re growing well based on their six-year financials, across a broad range of industries and geographies. She sees this as a position for continuing to scale to $1B in operating cash flow by June 2021, an ambitious but achievable target, on their existing 25-year run.
Ted Harrison, EVP of Worldwide Sales, was up next with an update on their customer base: 85 of the 100 largest companies in the world, 17 of the top 20 financial services companies, 20 of the top 20 life sciences companies, etc. He walked through the composition of the 1,600 sales professionals in their teams, from the account executives and sales reps to the solution consultants and other support roles. They also have an extensive partner channel bringing domain expertise and customer relationships. He highlighted a few customers in some of the key product areas — GM for digital identity management, Nestle for supply chain management, Malaysia Airports for AI and analytics,and British American Tobacco for SuccessFactors-OT2 integration — with a focus on customers that are using OpenText in ways that span their business operations in a significant way.
James McGourlay, EVP of Customer Operations, covered how their global technical support and professional services organization has aligned with the customer journey from deployment to adoption to expansion of their OpenText products. With 1,400 professional services people, they have 3,000 engagements going on at any given time across 30 countries. As with most large vendors’ PS groups, they have a toolbox of solution accelerators, best practices, and expert resources to help with initial implementation and ongoing operations. This is also where they partner with systems integrators such as CGI, Accenture and Deloitte, and platform partners like Microsoft and Oracle. He addressed the work of their 1,500 technical support professionals across four major centers of excellence for round-the-clock support, co-located with engineering teams to provide a more direct link to technical solutions. They have a strong focus on customer satisfaction in PS and technical support because they realize that happy customers tend to buy more stuff; this is particularly important when you have a lot of different products to sell to those customers to expand your footprint within their organizations.
Good to hear more about the corporate and operations side than I normally cover, but looking forward to this afternoon’s deeper dives into product technology.
Muhi Majzoub, EVP of Engineering, continued the first day of the analyst summit with a deeper look at their technology progress in the past year as well as future direction. I only cover a fraction of OpenText products; even in the ECM and BPM space, they have a long history of acquisitions and it’s hard to keep on top of all of them.
Their Content Services provides information integration into a variety of key business applications, including Salesforce and SAP; this allows users to work in those applications and see relevant content in that context without having to worry where or how it’s stored and secured. Majzoub covered a number of the new features of their content platforms (alas, there are still at least two content platforms, and let’s not even talk about process platforms) as well as user experience, digital asset management, AI-powered content analytics and eDiscovery. He talked about their solutions for LegalTech and digital forensics (not areas that I follow closely), then moved on to the much broader areas of AI, machine learning and analytics as they apply to capture, content and process, as well as their business network transactions.
He talked about AppWorks, which is their low-code development environment but also includes their BPM platform capabilities since they have a focus on process- and content-centric applications such as case management. They have a big push on vertical application development, both in terms of enabling it for their customers and also for building their own vertical offerings. Interestingly, they are also allowing for citizen development of micro-apps in their Core cloud content management platform that includes document workflows.
The product session was followed by a showcase and demos hosted by Stephen Ludlow, VP of Product Marketing. He emphasized that they are a platform company, but since line-of-business buyers want to buy solutions rather than platforms, they need to be able to demonstrate applications that bring together many of their capabilities. We had five quick demos:
AI-augmented capture using Captive capture and Magellan AI/analytics: creating an insurance claim first notice of loss from an unstructured email, while gathering aggregate analytics for fraud detection and identifying vehicle accident hotspots.
Unsupervised machine learning for eDiscovery to identify concepts in large sets of documents in legal investigations, then using supervised learning/classification to further refine search results and prioritize review of specific documents.
Integrated dashboard and analytics for supply chain visibility and management, including integrating, harmonizing and cleansing data and transactions from multiple internal and external sources, and drilling down into details of failed transactions.
HR application integrating SAP SuccessFactors with content management to store and access documents that make up an employee HR file, including identifying missing documents and generating customized documents.
Dashboard for logging and handling non-conformance and corrective/preventative actions for Life Sciences manufacturing, including quality metrics and root cause analysis, and linking to reference documentation.
Good set of business use cases to finish off our first (half) day of the analyst summit.
Mark Barrenechea, OpenText’s CEO and CTO, kicked off the analyst summit with his re:imagine keynote here in Boston amidst a snowy winter storm that ensures a captive audience. He gave some of the current OpenText stats –100M end users over 120,000 customers, 2.8B in revenue last year — before expanding into a review of how the market has shifted over the past 10 years, fueled by changes in technology and infrastructure. What’s happened on the way to digital and AI is what he calls the zero theorem: zero trust (guard against security and privacy breaches), zero IT (bring your own device, work in the cloud), zero people (automate everything possible) and zero down time (everything always available).
Their theme for this year is to help their customers re:imagine work, re:imagine their workforce, and re:imagine automation and AI. This starts with OpenText’s intelligent information core (automation, AI, APIs and data management), then expands with both their EIM platforms and EIM applications. OpenText has a pretty varied product portfolio (to say the least) and is bringing many of these components together into a more cohesive integrated vision in both the content services and the business network spaces. More importantly, they are converging their many, many engines so that in the future, customers won’t have to decide between which ECM or BPM engine, for example.
They are providing a layer of RESTful services on top of their intelligent information core services (ECM, BPM, Capture, Business Network, Analytics/AI, IoT), then allow that to be consumed either by standard development tools in a technical IDE, or using the AppWorks low-code environment. The Cloud OT2 architecture provides about 40 services for consumption in these development environments or by OpenText’s own vertical applications such as People Center.
Barrenechea finished up with a review of how OpenText is using OpenText to transform their own business, using AI for looking at some of their financial and people management data to help guide them towards improvements. They’ll be investing $2B in R&D over the next five years to help them become even bigger in the $100B EIM market, both through the platform and more increasingly through vertical applications.
We’ll be digging into more of the details later today and tomorrow as the summit continues, so stay tuned.
Next up was Ted Harrison, EVP of Worldwide Sales, interviewing one of their customers: Gopal Padinjaruveetil, VP and Chief Information Security Officer at The Auto Club Group. AAA needs no introduction as a roadside assistance organization, but they also have insurance, banking, travel, car care and advocacy business areas, with coordinated member access to services across multiple channels. It’s this concept of the connected member that has driven their focus on digital identity for both people and devices, and how AI can help them to reduce risk and improve security by detecting abnormal patterns.