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Information Management: A New Hope

OpenText recently announced Cloud Editions 20.4, the cloudification of a broad portfolio of offerings for content and workflows, business networks, customer experience, security, and developers.

Various studies suggest that 75% - 85% of the data that enterprises collect falls into a black hole, never to be seen again. This black hole sucks up not only the data, but the enormous amount of money used to capture, transport, and store the data as well.

In the world of theoretical physics, a solution announced recently proved that information can, in fact, escape a black hole, following an approach conceived by a professor in Canada to resolve a problem first posed by Stephen Hawking.

In the world of business, a solution announced the same week proved that information can, in fact, escape the enterprise data black hole, following an approach conceived by a company in Canada to resolve the problems faced by most enterprises: how to use information to achieve strategic business objectives, competitive advantage, digital transformation, and process and systems integration.

This solution -- OpenText Cloud Editions 20.4 -- was announced at the OpenText World 2020 conference (now accessible free with registration). It amounts to a complete cloudification of OpenText’s current broad, integrated portfolio of software and services, enabling functional capabilities -- such as content management, archiving, discovery, security, and governance -- to be utilized on a full “as-a-service” basis.

OpenText is Canada’s largest enterprise software company, having grown organically and through the acquisition of numerous well-known brands such as Documentum, Captiva, and Carbonite. Its CEO & CTO, Mark J. Barrenechea, described his vision for the future of information management in a cloud-based approach during his keynote address, saying it enables organizations to thrive during what he refers to as a “Great Rethink” -- the disruption and transformation of not just information, but the economy, society, technology, the environment, geopolitics, people, and industry, all accelerated by the pandemic.

Cloud Editions 20.4 includes the new OpenText Content Cloud, which offers capabilities such as content and workflow management and collaboration; Business Network Cloud, which digitally connects and manages business partners, IoT devices, and more; Experience Cloud, focused on customer engagement, analytics, and personalization; Security & Protection Cloud, spanning incident response to endpoint protection; and Developer Cloud, which provides APIs and orchestration to make this all happen.

Moreover, recognizing the complex infrastructure and evolving needs of enterprises, Barrenechea stressed how these OpenText solutions are highly interoperable with dozens of other partners and their solutions, such as Microsoft 365, SAP, and Salesforce. And, since the functionality is cloud-native, a new level of flexibility exists to run these solutions in OpenText Cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google or even on premises in an enterprise data center or in a colocation facility.

More than just a means of information management or content services, these new offers are a key enabler for digital transformation and systems integration, including fusing the digital and physical worlds.  As Stephen Ludlow, SVP of Product Management at OpenText put it, the OpenText Content Cloud is intended to “connect the content in your organization to your digital business,” thus integrating information capture, collaboration and sharing, analytics, document signing, archiving and more.

To consider just one scenario, integrations with, say, OpenText Content Cloud, Microsoft Teams, and Salesforce allow collaboration on documents, with relevant Salesforce content automatically surfaced right in the workflow -- and enterprise governance rules applied to all content as it’s created.

Ludlow observes that this type of integration has a number of benefits, such as overcoming barriers to adoption of new enterprise systems and addressing issues with process standardization and compliance when users are forced to “step outside” of a process to accommodate gaps between steps.

It’s hard to argue against the flexibility achieved by taking a proven portfolio of on-premises content management capabilities and extending it with a versatile set of cloud content services. As I wrote in Cloudonomics almost a decade ago, how customers want to buy and use your products shouldn’t be a barrier to them enjoying the value that the portfolio offers. Sometimes this value will entail cost reduction, but often it will entail greater business agility, better customer experience, faster innovation, and accelerated revenue growth.

To unlock this value requires not just cloudification, but flexible integration of tools and data. It’s similar to the difference between a collection of automobile parts scattered over thousands of miles, and a brand-new Lamborghini Aventador. When structured and unstructured data reside piecemeal and disorganized on a variety of systems in a variety of locations, it becomes a barrier to digital transformation and business agility. Conversely, when it is organized, integrated, and accessible, it becomes a turbocharged vehicle that can win a competitive race.

Consider NATO. Its wide-ranging needs are “mission-critical,” given that its mission is to guarantee the freedom and security of its 30-member nations. Achieving this requires ensuring that information in any format is securely accessible on any device when it is needed. Recently this entailed methodically combing through decades-old pandemic planning documents for insights, and according to Catherine Gerth, Acting Director for ICT Management at NATO Headquarters, utilizing OpenText’s capabilities to enable this has been “really quite essential.” 

To return to astrophysics analogies, a business ecosystem using the OpenText Content Cloud will also exhibit data gravity effects. Like a black hole (in a positive sense) or any other heavenly body, the bigger it gets, the stronger its gravitational field and thus the larger and more powerful it becomes.  Applications, data, and partnerships become accreted through its event horizon, creating even stronger forces attracting more applications, data, and partnerships. Such an ecosystem, energized with a rich constellation of customer and operational data, can impact all facets of the business, including processes and resources, digitalized products and services, enhanced customer relationships, and accelerated innovation.

OpenText is delivering the important capabilities that enterprises and other organizations need: the flexibility to mix and match licensing and on-demand as-a-service options; a spectrum of implementation options from cloud to edge; an integrated, broad portfolio of features; everything locked down in terms of security, privacy, and regulatory compliance; and easy use and access whether in terms of user interface and experience or through an API. 

As Mark Barrenechea noted in his keynote, “When you can have this integration, it creates cultures of knowing. And that’s never been more important.” This is the direction that OpenText is headed, perhaps ensuring that October 2020 will be remembered for both the content of physics and the physics of content.

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Joe Weinman is a global keynote speaker, board member, advisor, and author of Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing, Digital Disciplines, and Fog and Fogonomics.  He has contributed to InformationWeek for over a decade, as well as to IEEE Cloud Computing, Harvard Business Review, etc. He has held a variety of executive positions at AT&T Bell Labs, AT&T Business, HP, most recently as Senior VP, Telx (now Digital Realty). His education includes Cornell, UW-Madison, IMD Lausanne, MIT Sloan, and Harvard Business School. He has been awarded 26 US patents.