Expanding portfolio knowledge, better sales alignment with OpenText dominate messaging to partners at Enterprise World

TORONTO – While OpenText Enterprise World formally kicks off here today, and will continue through Thursday, Monday was all about OpenText’s partners at Partner Summit. The big news for partners at this year’s event is on the product side, with the enhanced portfolio, involving over 500 changes, being announced today. No changes to partner programs or support were revealed. But the messaging around strategy that OpenText offered to partners was clear. The market is undergoing profound changes, which provides great opportunities for those who react effectively, and great risk for those who don’t. Partners can react most effectively by expanding their OpenText capabilities beyond basic enterprise information management [EIM], by building their own IP on top of OpenText, and  by improving their alignment with OpenText’s internal sales.

John Mancini, the President of Content Results, LLC, and the past and longtime President of AIIM [the Association for Information and Image Management] laid out the changed opportunities in an industry much changed from when he came to AIIM in the mid-90s, which was then focused on document management and workflow on LANs.

Mancini detailed how the shift from initial processes of digitization and automation to new ones of robotics, AI and machine learning involves a major transition for customers.

“The partner network is uniquely able to help with this transition,” he told the Partner Summit keynote. “The old approaches to managing content and processes don’t work any more. This is all about empowering knowledge workers and team productivity, especially at midmarket size organizations and up. Document management and records management are no longer a source of differentiation, but table stakes. Leading organizations are pushing on knowledge worker efficiency.”

Mancini stressed that this is an unprecedented solution opportunity for solution providers – if they adapt their approach to match the changes in how customers think. That involves adjusting their marketing and sales approach to the new realities of B2B selling.

“AIIM has always been big on the marketing automation journey,” he said. “You need commitment to the kinds of content that OpenText can provide to leverage all these touch points.”

Mancini went through multiple data points from AIM research, which are in line with other studies, showing the extent of the changes that have taken place. 62 per cent of execs they surveyed, for example, now believe that a customer now has acquired most information that they need to make a buying decision before they even talk to a salesperson. This makes earlier involvement in the buying process, before the customer is even a prospect, necessary for sustained success.

“That involves embracing analytics and machine learning to help users understand their implications,” he said. That’s something that is more of a challenge than the IT industry often makes it seem, as Mancini noted that real penetration of these technologies still isn’t very far advanced in the enterprise.

“You can fill the hype gap,” he told partners. “You can help organizations connect their desires with actions. That’s the opportunity for you – to let them rewire their house without ripping all the old stuff out.”

Mark Berrenechea, OpenText’s CEO, highlighted the major product announcements which are being announced Tuesday morning – and then turned to how partners can best take advantage of the enhancements.

“Release 16 EP6 is now in the market, and the transition to OpenText Cloud Edition in 2020 is an opportunity to go into the install base and upgrade,” Barrenechea told partners. “It is Cloud First. We are making a big statement and a big step. It will be fully containerized and will run in the hyperscaler clouds, although perhaps not with all the same services as the OpenText Cloud.”

OpenText Cloud, Business Network and the OpenText OT2 EIM-as-a-service cloud offering are all being enhanced.

“OT2 gets stronger every quarter as a platform,” Barrenechea said. “With the 20.2 release in April, we will sell services in the market. All services will be sellable, billable, managed securely and runnable in our cloud with SLAs. We will be ready for scale in the services market with OT2.”

Barrenechea outlined the approach OpenText is taking to the cloud.

“Many talk about cloud as a way to cut costs and be more agile,” he said. We are moving beyond that. We don’t complete against AWS and Google. They are our partners. We compete against an internal CIO project, against internal IT. We can do it faster and at 50 per cent of the cost.”

Barrenechea noted that OpenText is not only the market leader in Content Services Platforms, but also the 2018 leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the space.

“Content Services should open every single door to you,” he told partners. “It is a ticket to the strategic table. It is your license to hunt and sell in the largest accounts.”

Barrenechea asked how many of the assembled partners sold Business Network, and after some diligent scrutiny managed to find about five in the room.

“I’d like you to learn Business Network,” he told the audience. “It is a fabulous opportunity as companies digitize.”

Barrenechea said that AppWorks, OpenText’s platform for digital businesses, represents the core of OpenText’s developer strategy.

“We are deadly serious about scaling, which means that in addition to growing our direct sales and our partners, we have to grow our developers,” he said. “Our goal over the next five years is to get one million experts in our entire ecosystem. We will need to open everything with RESTful services to be able to make everything digital. Showing up in the leader wave in AppWorks is a great milestone for us.”

Looking ahead, Barrenechea said that they want to further flesh out their content services.

“Even though we lead the market, we would like to fill out all types of content, not just traditional unstructured data, but voice, video and facial recognition,” he said. We also want to complete the transition to everything we want to be in the cloud app as a managed service.”

Don’t, however, look to OpenText to make a big splash in the hot Robotic Process Automation Space by making an acquisition.

“From a market perspective today, RPA is enormously overvalued, at 15x-to 20x earnings,” said Steve Ludlow, OpenText’s VP of Product Marketing. “That makes no sense. There may be an opportunity as we see that market consolidate a bit. At the same time, we are building out some capabilities, as we see opportunities in all things around intelligent capture and the failed expectations  of RPA on this. So the opportunities in the RPA space are not immediate, but we do see an opportunity in intelligent capture.”

Barrenechea compared what OpenText sees as a fundamental issue with RPA to a problem they once had with a few of the screen interfaces from SAP, a key strategic partner. When they were told elaborate workarounds to address the issue, Barrenechea said he instead proposed that SAP just get to the root cause and fix the small number of lousy screens.

“I’ve not bought into RPA yet because what they fix is underneath the root cause – which is intelligent capture,” he said.

Ludlow doubled down on the messaging around the need for partners to broaden their OpenText skillsets, including developing unique IP for them.

“There are tons of additional leading applications we have not created productized offerings for, and there will be more as we move to SaaS,” he said.

“With AppWorks, leading applications can be created by you, working with the customer to solve their business processes,” he added. Partners should also be positioning their OpenText Business Network cloud platform for data lifecycle management for integrating supply chains

Ludlow also emphasized the need for partners to be conversant with AI and analytics.

“Our sales teams lead conversations with AI – although the conversations may not end with it,” he noted.

Chris Ditchburn, OpenText’s Senior Director of Engineering, cited the importance of partners working with the AppWorks platform. Perhaps a fifth of the partners in the room raised their hands when he asked if they were familiar with it.

“AppWorks helps connect enterprise information,” he said. “There’s a huge channel opportunity in AppWorks with business process automation,” noting a Forrester study that said 64 per cent of survey respondents said it was key part of business strategy.

“Get certified on it, and build solutions with it at heart,” Ditchburn told partners.

Gary May, OpenText’s North American Regional VP, emphasized the importance of solution selling on OpenText technology.

“Solution selling on our technology really can make a difference, but you need to have a network inside our selling organization to make this work,” he stated.

“Solution selling is important beyond tactical positions,” said Chris Sargent, OpenText’s APJ Regional VP. It’s hard if you don’t have an awareness of everything in our portfolio.”

May also noted that while OpenText is planning to double its direct sales over the next five years, this will only let them keep up with expanding opportunities.

“Our selling organization is focused on the global 10k, and in five years it will be much larger, but will only still cover all the global 10k,” he said. “We don’t have the bandwidth to cover it all now. We certainly don’t have the capacity to cover the upper midmarket. We are looking to our partner community to be more actively involved there.”

The importance of partner sales alignment with OpenText was also emphasized.

“The field needs to be engaged with partners and do account planning so we can be aligned in accounts,” said Jennifer Kerr, OpenText’s VP, Global Partners and Alliances.

“I don’t know that we have ever talked as much with partners about account coverage as we have this year,” May noted. “Our enterprise sales people will have accounts in their batch they don’t have bandwidth to cover. We strongly encourage you to start working with them on this, as we talk about which accounts we can cover and which we will leave partners to cover.”

“Communication is the key,” Sargent told partners. “Reach out to our salespeople, to your managed partner leader. Open the lines of communications so we can manage the accounts together. Account mapping and strategic account planning is where value is.”

Kerr summed up the messaging for partners in concluding the keynote.

“The market opportunity is expandable, and alignment is key,” she said. “Expand your capabilities. We win as a team. Build your own IP and become an OpenText developer.”