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: Digital Accelerants

Although technically a product breakout, the session on OpenText’s Digital Accelerants product collection was presented to the entire audience as our last full-audience session before the afternoon breakouts. This was split into three sections: cloud, AI and analytics, and process automation.

Jon Schupp, VP of Cloud GTM, spoke about how information is transforming the world: not just cloud, but a number of other technologies, a changing workforce, growing customer expectations and privacy concerns. Cloud, however, is the destination for innovation. Moving to cloud allows enterprise customers to take advantage of the latest product features, guaranteed availability, global reach and scalability while reducing their operational IT footprint. OpenText provides a number of different deployment platforms: “off-cloud” (aka on-premise), public cloud, private cloud, managed services, and SaaS.

Dave Moyers and Paul O’Hagan were up next to talk about AI and analytics, and how they are addressing data variety, ease of use, embedding AI/ML in processes, and deploying anywhere that it’s required. Their AI and analytics capabilities are provided by the Magellan product, and have been integrated with other OpenText products as well as built into vertical solutions. Magellan has been integrated into the ECM products with AI-augmented capture and the AI-powered “magic folder” auto-categorization and filing; into the Business Network products with asset performance optimization and predictive maintenance; into AppWords by instantiating processes based on insights; and several other integrations. They also have some new standard features for identifying PII (personal identifiable information), which is crucial for compliance and privacy. In addition to the analysis capabilities, there is a wide range of dashboard and visualization options, and full-fledged ETL for connecting to enterprise and third-party data sources and organize data flows. We also saw some examples yesterday of using Magellan for e-discovery and sentiment analysis. Interestingly, this is one of the product portfolios where they’ve taken advantage of integrating with open source tools to extend the core products.

Saving the best for last (okay, maybe that’s just my bias), Lori McKellar and Nick King presented on business process automation. This is not just about back-office automation, but includes customer-facing processing, IoT and other more complex intelligent processes. AppWorks, which includes the process automation capabilities, is an application development environment for use by semi-technical citizen developers (low-code) as well as professional developers (pro-code). We saw the all-new developer experience last year, and now they’ve had a chance to integrate the actual customer usage to fine-tune both the developer and end-user AppWorks experience. One significant change is that as their customers start to build larger apps, they now allow more granular access to the entities under development to allow multiple developers to be working on the same application simultaneously without collisions. They’ve added some new UI capabilities, such as a card view option and an optimized tablet view. Integration with Documentum has been improved for easier document check-in and repository access. Privacy features, including dynamic instance-level permissions and document redaction, are now available in AppWorks. In the upcoming 20.2 version, they’ll be adding an RPA connector framework, then expanding the RPA integrations in 20.3.

The session finished with a Q&A with all of the participants, including discussions on RPA connectors, operationalization of machine learning, hybrid cloud models, the role of unstructured content in AI training, and natural language processing.

This afternoon, I’ll be attending the breakout session on content services, so stay tuned for those final notes from the OpenText Analyst Summit 2020.

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.

Camunda Cloud beta goes public

It’s definitely webinar season! I’ve seen a lot of webinar invitations pass by recently, and I’ll be speaking on a couple in the coming weeks. Today, I listened in on a webinar about the Camunda Cloud public beta, with Daniel Meyer (Camunda CTO) discussing their drivers for creating it, and Immanuel Monma providing a demo. I heard about the Camunda Cloud at CamundaCon last September, and it’s good to see that they’re launching it so soon.

Meyer spoke about using cloud-based process automation for modernizing legacy infrastructure, and the requirements that they had for re-inventing process automation for the cloud:

  • Externalize processes from business applications (this isn’t really new, since it’s been a driver for BPM systems all along).
  • Maximize developer productivity by allowing them to work within their programming language of choice.
  • Support hybrid orchestration with both cloud and on-premise applications, and across multiple public cloud platforms.
  • Native BPMN execution.
  • Cloud scalability and resilience.

This is where their Zeebe workflow engine comes in, which is at the core of Camunda Cloud. By supporting hybrid orchestration, Camunda Cloud allows for a gradual migration of legacy on-premise IT by first externalizing the processes, then migrating some of the legacy functionality to cloud-based microservices while still supporting direct contact with the legacy IT, then gradually (if possible) migrating all of the legacy functionality to the cloud. This gains the advantage of both a microservices architecture for modularity and scalability, and process orchestration to knit things together for loose coupling with end-to-end visibility.

The live demo showed the interaction between Zeebe and Operate, the two main execution components of Camunda Cloud, plus Cawemo for collaborative modeling of the processes (althought the process could have just been modeled in the Zeebe modeler). Monma walked us through how to create, deploy and execute a simple BPMN process in Camunda Cloud; watching the webinar replay would be a great place to start if you want to play around with the beta. Note that aside from creating the BPMN model in Cawemo, which may involve business people, this is a technical developer toolset for service orchestration and automated processes at this point. You can plug into their Zeebe Slack community or forum to interact with other developers who are trying things out.

Future Camunda Cloud components

Meyer returned with the product roadmap, then handled questions from attendees. Right now, Camunda Cloud is a free public beta although there are some limitations; they will be launching the GA version shortly (he said “hopefully within the next month”) that will allow better control over clusters plus have SLA-based technical support. They are also adding human workflow with a tasklist, providing both an API and a simple out of the box UI, which will also push the addition of the human task type in the Zeebe BPMN coverage. They will be adding analytics via a cloud version of Optimize. The Camunda components are running in their cloud, which is currently running in Google Cloud and an automated Kubernetes structure; in the future, they will expand this to run in multiple (geographic) regions to better support applications in different regions. They may consider running on different cloud platforms, although since this is hidden from the Camunda Cloud customers, it may not be necessary. A number of other good questions on hybrid orchestration, the use of RPA, and how the underlying event-streaming distributed architecture of Zeebe provides for vastly greater scalability than most BPM systems.

You’ll be able to see the webinar replay (typically without registration) on the webinar information page as soon as they publish it.

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.

Cloud architecture panel at bpmNEXT 2019

As a twist on the usual bpmNEXT format, we heard from a panel of the demo participants: Michael Lim of IBM, Philippe Laumay of Bonitasoft and Phil Simpson of Red Hat. A few notes from the panel – no attribution of any specific comments but you can likely make some guesses – of what vendors are facing with cloud architectures.

  • Platform architecture needs to have cloud-level scalability through containerization
  • Cloud is pushing vendors from a monolithic BPMS platform to a microservice architecture for elasticity
  • A “boil the ocean” digital business monolithic platform doesn’t make sense, but better to provide easily-consumable services on a pay-per-use basis
  • Services are assembled into solutions but may be guided by a platform strategy to know what will work well together
  • A single-vendor platform requires pricing for only the components used
  • Monolithic platforms provide a common data model used by a single vendor’s tools for better application of machine learning and AI to the data
  • Low-code application development, solution accelerators or partner-created vertical solutions are required to sell the cloud platform
  • Cloud microservice architecture enables collaboration between vendors and customers in more of an open source model
  • Picking the right best-of-breed service for your use case can be a competitive differentiator
  • Systems integrators are going to shift to more of a consulting role to focus on best practices (including which service to pick for which application) rather than building solutions
  • Vendors can help to build relationships between partners with complementary skills to build solutions together
  • Cloud doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t know where the data is (e.g., hybrid cloud), just that it is managed in a consistent fashion and transparent to the users
  • Capture (from physical documents/objects) is one area where physical location is particularly relevant since the physical documents will be stored somewhere for a period of time
  • BPMN isn’t necessarily used for end-to-end modeling of executable processes, since that implies orchestration at that level; at the high level, it is more commonly used to model milestones and business behaviors

In summary: cloud and microservices are good, but the single-vendor platform versus best-of-breed services is still up for debate.

Now, on to the demos.

Show me the money: Financials, sales and support at @OpenText Analyst Summit 2019

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.