The OpenText CEO kicked off his company’s flagship event by situating their corporate vision and strategy within the context of the massive changes in the industry that have taken place over the last year, and situating OpenText’s major announcement at the event within the context of that strategy.
TORONTO – Last year, at their EnterpriseWorld 2017 event, OpenText CEO, CTO and vice-chair Mark Barrenechea unveiled the company’s long-awaited Magellan platform for applying artificial intelligence and machine learning-based analytics to the business data on their platform. This year, at EnterpriseWorld 2018, Barrenechea updated the progress OpenText has made with Magellan and the lessons learned from it. He also unveiled a brand new platform, OT2. Together, they are part of a comprehensive vision Barrenechea laid out around how OpenText’s newly enhanced intelligent and connected core can help customers to navigate the many dangers of today’s new world.
“Ten years ago, we were managing documents, doing content management, and that was the state of the art,” Barrenechea said in EnterpriseWorld 2018’s opening keynote. “Now in an information-infused future, we provide cloud content management, document classification, metadata, taxonomy, and automated data recognition, and here automated classification tools become ever more important.
“Last year we kicked off EnterpriseWorld talking about Deus ex Machina – the year of the machine,” Barrenechea stated. “This year, I’ll use another Latin term – Mundus Novus – because it really feels like a new world in so many ways.” Barrenechea said that this new world was distinguished by unprecedented planetary connectivity on the Internet, a new, majority-millenial workforce, and a nature of work that has fundamentally changed with digitalization.
“It is forcing companies to reach hyperscale levels and either to scale up, to differentiate or to evaporate,” he emphasized.
This Mundus Novus is also characterized by augmented humanity and by augmented intelligence – a term Barrenechea chose carefully to differentiate it from artificial intelligence.
“In the new world, we don’t believe in scary monsters with artificial intelligence,” he told the approximately 4000 attendees at the event. “We are applied scientists. We are looking to unlock information with some insight to help you scale and differentiate your business. This is augmented intelligence, not AI.”
Barrenechea also said that all this change has been intensified because digital, in addition to making things very complex, has increased time, space and speed, with mobile now eating the world, with every business now becoming a software business, and with privacy, compliance and security all melding together in regulations like the GDPR and the U.S. Cloud Act.
“I have never seen it so fast – which means we need to prioritize,” Barrenechea stated. “We’ve evolved from a search company, to an Enterprise Content Management company to Enterprise Information Management [EIM], making software for this new world, to address these new challenges. At its core is our Intelligent Connected Core — our automation for all the unstructured information processes. It unlocks the power of having one flow of identity all the way through the EIM processes.
“Our vision is that intelligent information core around the EIM platform,” Berrenechea continued. “We have evolved into an applications company. The rule that we follow is – follow the big unstructured data sources. We follow the Big Data, and we now have an application suite. We wrap this around our EIM suite, and our OpenText Cloud.”
The endpoint as machine is a key part of that vision.
“We have made a strategic decision that what we have automated for humans in the last 25 years we can do for machines,” Barrenechea said. “It’s really about the endpoint as machine – whether doing the discovery on a mobile device, working with remote drones to do pipeline inspections, or being able to work in fleets of buses, cars, or train systems.
“Most people view AI as a big scary robot, but we view I as person plus machine – not person versus machine,” he added. “Last year, we had our machine-learning Magellan onstage, and we have learned a lot since then.”
Berrenechea summed up what they had learned around Magellan since last year as encompassing four key ingredients – all of which combined to make the formula for AI simpler.
“First, you need intelligent systems, like our Intelligent and Connected Core, or you don’t get good AI,” he said. “Secondly, you have to get your data models right. Third, customers don’t want to spend a lot of time on this. They want tools, and to then experiment rapidly, at low cost, and then tweak along the way. Professional services are nice, but customers want their own data scientists using these tools under their own control. Fourth, they want high-value insight.” Barrenechea referred to several customers and the types of insight they got from the OpenText platform, including E.J. Gallo wineries [product recommendations] the U.S. Army [security and endpoint management] and OpenText itself, with its HR department [hiring, and retention policies].
Malaysian Airports was a customer who made extremely broad and creative use of Magellan, said Lalith Subramanian, OpenText’s VP Products for security, discovery and analytics.
“Magellan does a little bit of classification, a little web crawling, and a little Internet of Things in areas like baggage handling,” Subramanian said, “But the way they put it together and did all these things showed that they had been thinking very comprehensively about what they were doing.”
How successful has Magellan been in its first year at meeting the goals set for it by OpenText?
“We don’t publish the number of customers or break out revenues for product lines for any of our products, but I think it has been a really good first year for Magellan,” Barrenechea said. “There are trends that come and go, but drawing insights out of information ain’t going away.”
He did indicate that OpenText has done over 100 Proofs-of-Concept around Magellan, some of which have closed as deals.
“Our first goal is to unlock the value of our own EIM information, in the same way that Salesforce Einstein’s first goal is to unlock Salesforce data,” Barrenechea added. “I don’t want to unlock Workday data. I want to unlock my data. This is where I think IBM Watson gets it wrong.”
Security is another core, Barrenechea emphasized.
“You have to assume bad actors are already inside your network,” he said. “It’s why we are very passionate on building security into the intelligent and connected enterprise from the core. Security has to be job number one. We see the human immune system as a lot like security, and the intelligent and connected enterprise as an immune system for business.”
All this comes together with the major splash announcement from this year’s event, the announcement of OpenText OT2, the company’s next-gen hybrid-cloud platform, which combines intelligent automation, security, and EIM applications in a unified platform.
“We are now reborn cloud with OT2 – the new pure SaaS platform, all integrated into our business network,” Barrenechea said. “We couldn’t be more excited about this Intelligent Connected Enterprise core. We have gone from managed content to this incredible information-infused portfolio.”
Barrenechea also stated that OpenText remaining in its Waterloo Ontario headquarters remains a core part of the company’s vision. Even though the company has become a major global enterprise player, they have no intention of relocating from their home, where they were founded.
“We are a global company, but we remain a Canadian company be choice,” he said. “We could be anywhere, but candidly it’s a good time to be Canadian. I’m an American, and I put a Canadian flag in every OpenText office around the world. A hockey analogy is appropriate. We compete. We will check a competitor against the boards but afterwards, we are happy to buy them a beer. Waterloo also continues to work for us because of the great access to talent. The University of Waterloo has great access to talent in the stem sciences. There is a vibrant startup community. And the food has gotten better, although it still could use a really good sushi restaurant.”