Partners and processes: the keys to OpenText realising its digital vision
The result of Project Blue Carbon – which OpenText trailed at its big customer conference in 2015 – is now coming to market. For customers wanting to deploy on-premise the result is Suite 16; for customers wanting to deploy hosted, it’s Cloud 16. Pretty much the whole of OpenText’s portfolio of products is being refreshed.
Unsurprisingly, OpenText is framing the arrival of its new wave of product releases in the context of a ‘digital revolution’, which is transforming organisations and industries and along the way creating new waves of information management requirements.
OpenText needs its new release wave to have a big impact. Although revenues grew by 14% in its last full financial year (to June 2015), performance over the past couple of quarters has been moribund – with revenue from software licenses, cloud services / subscriptions and consulting services all down year-on-year.
Blue Carbon was initially pitched as a product development effort that would focus on threading business process technology through key elements of the other parts of the OpenText portfolio. Business process technology is certainly taking a higher-profile role in the OpenText portfolio, and this is part of a larger strategy shift. OpenText realises that it succeeds best in delivering value to customers when its ECM technology is used specifically in support of particular business processes. So it plans to do more to show how ECM and BPM technologies can be combined in the context of its own offering; but also to demonstrate more capabilities in combining OpenText’s ECM with third party enterprise applications. A deepened partnership with SAP (taking in Hybris, HANA, SuccessFactors and more) is a part of this, as is an ongoing focus on supporting Salesforce with targeted applications.
Specifically in the BPM space, the new release wave brings welcome clarity for OpenText customers now that the company has clearly stated that its strategic direction revolves around the Cordys platform (the OpenText Process Suite). Support for Global 360 and Metastorm customers will remain, but they’ll be encouraged (via incentives) to migrate to the new Process Suite where possible. The key new feature introduction in Process Suite 16 is ‘entity modelling’, which enables application designers to use a graphical web-based tool to model business data objects and then have those manage business data natively within Process Suite applications – echoing moves of other vendors as diverse as Bonitasoft, Appian and IBM to support data as a first-class citizen in their application frameworks. There’s also integration with the Actuate analytics tools, Capture Center, and the ability to enable collaboration and social interaction features in the task management layer of your process applications.
One key development outside the BPM space is the increased use of analytics tools that came from the Actuate acquisition – both to drive aggregate intelligence about the performance of your working environment, and to drive operational insights for people performing work. Two other smaller but still important points to note: along with the release of Cloud 16 will come European hosting for OpenText Core (the company’s competitive response to Box, Dropbox et al); and certification of OpenText’s products on Postgres – making it possible for customers to run OpenText suites against cheaper commodity DBMS technology.
“We are all information companies now,” says CEO and CTO Mark Barrenechea – making sure he links talk of digital disruption and business transformation to the OpenText proposition.
When Barrenechea talks, he’s pretty compelling. He paints a picture of how – if you’re serious about undergoing digital transformation to become more efficient and/or to enable new products and services – OpenText’s Discovery Suite (Search and Content Analytics), Process Suite (BPM), Content Suite (ECM), Experience Suite (WCM), Information Exchange Suite (B2B commerce network) and Analytics tools (former Actuate products) can all fit together to support you in your efforts. You can see how OpenText can deliver many elements of what you might call a ‘digital business operating platform’.
The challenge is: can the reality of OpenText’s revitalised product lines live up to the market expectations that Barrenechea is setting? Certainly, it’s unlikely that we’ll see large numbers of customers shifting their information management platforms wholesale to the OpenText portfolio, even if they have significant investments in (say) Content Suite or Information Exchange Suite. The main pillars of OpenText’s portfolio are all in established, mature enterprise software categories, and most of its large customers will have made strategic technology bets that will take a lot of undoing. However, it may have opportunities to sell bundles of products in support of particular new application use cases. This is where Barranechea’s talk of ‘digital revolution’ comes in – and where OpenText’s relationships with partners like SAP and Salesforce will need to play hugely important roles.
It’s too early to say whether the reality will match the vision. But we’ll be watching and reporting back.
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