OpenText Analyst Summit 2020 day 2: content services

Fred Sass, Marc Diefenbruch and Michael Cybala presented a breakout session on the content services portfolio. OpenText has two main content services platforms: their original Content Suite and the 2016 acquisition of Documentum, both of which appear to be under active development. They also list Extended ECM as a “content services platform”, although my understanding is that it’s a layer that abstracts and links Content Suite (and to a lesser extent, Documentum) to exist within other business workplaces. I’m definitely not the best source of information on OpenText content services platform architecture.

In many cases, their Content Suite is not accessed via an OpenText UI, but is served up as part of some other digital workplace — e.g., SAP, Salesforce or Microsoft Teams — with deep integration into that environment rather than just a simple link to a piece of content. This is done via their Extended ECM product line, which includes connectors for SAP, Microsoft and other environments. They are starting to build out Extended ECM Documentum to allow the same type of access via other business environments, but to Documentum D2 rather than Content Suite. They are integrating Core Share in the same way with Salesforce, allowing for secure sharing of content with external participants.

They discussed the various cloud options for OpenText content (off cloud, public cloud, managed services on OpenText private cloud, managed services on public cloud, SaaS cloud), as well as some general benefits of containerization. They use Docker containers on Kubernetes, which means that they can deploy on any cloud platform as well as an on-premise environment. They also have a number of content-related services available in the OT2 SaaS microservices environment, including Core Share and Core Capture applications and the underlying capture and content services. Core has been integrated with a number of different SaaS applications (e.g., SAP SuccessFactors) for document capture, storage and generation.

The third topic covered in the session was intelligent automation, including the type of AI-powered intelligent categorization and filing of documents with Magellan. We saw a demo of Core Capture with machine learning, where document classification and field recognition on the first pass of a document type were corrected manually, then the system performed correct recognition on a subsequent similar document. A second demo showed a government use case, where a captured document created a case management scenario on Extended ECM that is essentially a template-based document approval workflow with a few case management features including the ability to dynamically add steps and participants. As we get a bit deeper into the workflow, it’s revealed to be OpenText Process Suite, as part of AppWorks.

Lastly we looked at information governance, with a renewed interest due to privacy concerns and compliance-related legislation. They have a new solution, Core for Federated Compliance, that provides centralized records oversight and policy management over multiple platforms and repositories. It’s currently only linking to their own content repositories, but have some plans to extend this to other content sources such as file shares.

There’s another breakout plus a wrap-up Q&A with the executive leadership team, but this is the end of my coverage of the 2020 OpenText Analyst Summit. If something extraordinary happens in either of those sessions, I’ll tweet about it.

OpenText Analyst Summit 2020 day 2: sales, finance and operations

We started the second day of the OpenText analyst summit with EVP of sales Ted Harrison outlining their sales value proposition, both through their direct sales force and their partner channel. Customers tend to start with one OpenText product, but often expand to additional product lines to create more of a strategic partnership. OpenText is a prolific user of their own technology, providing a good template for some of their large customers in how their products can be used throughout an organization. With the growth in their cloud platform, they expect cloud to be their largest business in FY21. Harrison finished his presentation with a couple of customer case studies: Pacific Life doing a huge migration to OpenText Cloud, and JPMorgan Chase using AI for automated redaction, and Google using TeamSite for their partner portal.

James McGourlay, EVP of customer operations, covered their support, professional services and customer experience teams. They’ve done more than 40,000 engagements, which has created a depth of knowledge in successful deployment of their products. To fuel the move to the OpenText Cloud, professional services is helping customers with “Cloudification” strategy, migration, integration and adoption. McGourlay spoke about their commitment to data sovereignty, especially for European customers that have strict location regulations for certain data types. They perform customer satisfaction surveys for both professional services and technical support, with the goal to constantly improve their approval rating — currently at 96.4% for their technical support, for example, which he considers “not good enough”.

The last presentation in this session was CFO Madhu Ranganathan with a business and financial update. You can get more of the investor and financial details on their website (or read something written by one of the many blue-suited financial analysts in the audience), and she provided a summary of that publicly-available information: profitable and cash flow-positive, 25+ years of solid performance, and a proven M&A track record which is their dominant growth strategy. They have specific criteria for acquisitions: market leadership, value for OpenText’s customers, mission-critical capabilities, financially compelling, larger customer base, and longer operating history. Ranganathan showed a timeline of successful acquisitions; interestingly, none of the three BPM/workflow buys (Global360 and Metastorm in 2011, Cordys in 2013) were mentioned. It’s probably fair to say that workflow is not a primary product category for OpenText; it’s really just functionality within their AppWorks application development platform, most often used content-centric applications such as document lifecycle and case management. In summary, OpenText is solid financially, and has cash in the bank to leverage more acquisitions as part of their growth strategy.

OpenText Analyst Summit 2020 day 1: technology strategy

After the break, OpenText EVP and Chief Product Officer Muhi Majzoub took the stage at the analyst summit to talk about innovation within their products, a strategic projects update and a bit of a roadmap. They have innovation that comes from customer requirements as well as their own drivers, but they also have a lot to do in order to integrate new acquisitions.

He stressed that Documentum and Content Suite are both being maintained, with innovation (e.g., UI, Core Share integration) being applied to both product lines; although this is probably a great relief for customers of either product, I can’t believe that this will go on forever. This is the real challenge for OpenText going forward: how to consolidate some of their overlapping/competing acquisitions without alienating customers, especially in the content space where information is persistent for a long time. Branding everything as “Cloud Edition” doesn’t fix the problem, it just obscures it.

Majzoub spoke about their four strategic projects:

  • Cloud Edition (CE) is their cloud-native platform for running all manner of solutions and applications, which runs on a variety of cloud vendor platforms (OpenText, Google, AWS, Azure, Anthos) and includes containerized deployment models.
  • OT2 is their cloud-native application development platforms, including 231 of their own services and pre-built SaaS applications. This includes their Core services and applications, such as content and workflow services and many others.
  • Business Network, which includes a range of B2B services from fax to EDI, plus a huge directory of global trading partners that can be linked via OpenText’s platform.
  • Carbonite integration, which brings some new capabilities in cybersecurity, as well as SMB/consumer content management.

He finished with five new innovations to watch for from OpenText, including new features in Documentum, IoT connected supply chain, Exstream, Magellan, and Encase.

Craig Stilwell, formerly Chief Revenue Officer at Carbonite and now OpenText’s EVP and GM of the SMB and Consumer division, was on next to highlight some (more) of what Carbonite is bringing to OpenText. This acquisition is obviously energizing a lot of people, since we’ve heard about it in every presentation so far today. Carbonite, through their original product and their acquisition of Webroot last year, covers two of the main concerns of many SMBs: backup/disaster recovery, and endpoint protection. Unlike large organizations that own their own data centers, SMBs (and consumers) were much earlier adopters of cloud storage and computation, and therefore some of the early victims of downtime due to disaster or cyber attack.

We finished the day with SVP of product management Stephen Ludlow and demos by his four VPs of product management, each of which is responsible for a different product category. With their broad range of products, they obviously didn’t cover everything, but each showed an interesting capability with a large potential business impact:

  • Marc Diefenbruch demonstrated the intelligent folder in the content suite, which is AI-powered content classification and filing.
  • Dawn Andre demonstrated the identification and connection with potential trading partners based on multiple qualification criteria in the Trading Grid global partner directory.
  • Guy Hellier demonstrated personalized omnichannel communications with Extream for improving customer satisfaction, using customer data sources and Magellan speech analytics tied together with Core Experience Insights.
  • Michael Cybala demonstrated secure cloud sharing, collaboration and signing of documents using Core Share and Core Signature working with Content Server.

That’s it for our first (half) day at the 2020 OpenText analyst summit. We’ll be back tomorrow for another full day.

OpenText Analyst Summit 2020 day 1: corporate strategy and customer spotlight

I’m in Boston for the next two days for OpenText’s annual analyst summit; Patty Nagle, CMO, kicked things off in the first session, then we had a keynote from CEO/CTO Mark Barrenechea. They’re coming up on 30 years in existence, which is definitely a milestone for any technology company, and they’ve grown to 15,000 employees in over 30 countries, in part through their pattern of growth through acquisition. They sell through a large direct salesforce, as well as through their 27,000 partners and directly from their website.

The latest acquisition is Carbonite, which seems a pretty good fit with their cloud/edge content strategy, and Barrenchea discussed where Carbonite fits into their strategy some detail: decentralized computing, small/medium business and consumer audience, and cyber-resilience. OpenText has promoted the term enterprise information management (EIM) in the past, and now are dropping the “E” to be just information management as they enter the smaller end of the market.

They are following the lead of smaller (arguably more nimble) vendors with a move to quarterly product releases for their core content management, and their product versioning will reflect that with a YY.Q version number (e.g., 20.2). Their release 16 will become Cloud Edition 20.2 with the April release, with OT2 and Business Network following the same version numbering. The push to the cloud continues, and if you go to their website now, you’ll see a link to their cloud logins. I’m not sure that having quite so many different logins is a good thing, but I get that there are different audiences for this.

He also covered their business network and cyber resilience offerings, which are a bit peripheral to my interests; then on to their digital accelerants, which is a mixed bag of capabilities including low-code development, AI, IoT, process automation and analytics. They showed a demo of Magellan analytics visualizing World Health Organization data on COVID-19 — a timely example — showing the trends of the disease spread in human healthcare terms, but also the impact on business and markets.

Their key corporate priorities include maintaining market leadership in information management, with expansion to all size of customers; continued move to the cloud; and becoming more of an applications company. I’ve seen a few horizontal technology vendors fail spectacularly on building applications, so it will be interesting to see what they can accomplish there.

We heard briefly about BrightCloud Threat Intelligence, part of the Carbonite acquisition, and saw a demonstration of the Webroot BrightCloud Threat Investigator. Webroot was only acquired by Carbonite less than a year ago, and the branding didn’t even have time to change to Carbonite before becoming part of OpenText. OpenText plans to integrate this into their other offerings to provide better security for content and access to third-party sites and services.

Barrenechea ended with a call to arms to address climate change, ethical supply chains, overuse of plastics and other issues threatening society at large. Not what you usually hear from a technology CEO, but they are pushing a brand of “technology for the good”.

Ted Harrison, EVP of sales, finished the session by hosting a customer panel featuring Peter Chen of Stericycle, Shyam Pitchaimuthu of Chevron, and Gurreet Sidhu of BMO Financial Group. Stericycle and Chevron are both OpenText content management customers, with broad usage across their organizations and deep integration into other systems and processes. BMO is using the OpenText Trading Grid for B2B payment solutions, and appreciate the elastic scalability of the platform as business sectors expand and contract. Stericycle and Chevron both moved to cloud content management as part of their cloud-first strategy, with Chevron doing a conversion from on-premise Documentum to Azure. BMO went with OpenText’s managed services to allow them greater customization and security without running the core infrastructure themselves. Good discussion of how they’re using OpenText products, and the transition to their current state.

See me on a webinar with @Alfresco and @tsgrp discussing intelligent insurance claims management

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

You can sign up for the webinar here. As always, if you have any particular questions or comments that you want to send to me ahead of time, just comment on this post or send me a tweet.

Wrapping up OpenText Enterprise World 2019

It’s the last day of OpenText Enterprise World for this year. I started the day attending one of the developer labs, where I created a JavaScript app using OT2 services, then attended a couple of AppsWorks-related sessions: Duke Energy’s transition from MetaStorm to AppWorks, and using AppWorks for process/case and content integration in the public sector. I also got to meet the adorable Great Dane that was here as part of the Paws for a Break program: she’s a cross between a Harlequin and Merle in color, so they call her a Merlequin.

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.

OpenText Enterprise World 2019 day 2: technology keynote

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 Enterprise World 2019 day 1 keynote

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.

2019 @Alfresco Day: RBC Capital Markets

Yesterday at the analyst day, Alfresco CEO Bernadette Nixon had a fireside chat with Jim Williams of RBC about their Alfresco journey, and today at the user conference, Williams gave us more of the details of what they’re doing. They had an aging platform (built on Pega) that wasn’t able to support their derivatives business operations adequately, having been designed for a single purpose without the ability to easily change, resulting in many manual processes.

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.

2019 @Alfresco Analyst Day: partner strategy

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.