OpenText CEO Barrenechea redefines company around AI at OpenText World

Barrenechea also announced OpenText Aviator, the event’s feature announcement, which brings distinctive new AI capabilities to OpenText’s Business Cloud.

Ice, OpenText’s AI-generated yeti, and OpenText Aviator mascot, hugs OpenText CMO Sandy Ono onstage

LAS VEGAS – OpenText is an AI company. That was the theme that Mark Barrenechea, the CEO and CTO of the Kitchener-Waterloo based information technology powerhouse,emphasized in the opening keynote of OpenText World here on Wednesday.

“Welcome to the AI revolution,” Barrenechea told his audience, referring to it as a new ontology with creativity, data and trust. He also made an analogy to a quote from C.S. Lewis of Narnia fame which emphasized how AI doesn’t just make data management more effective, but fundamentally changes the rules of the game.

“It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature,” said Barrenechea, quoting Lewis.

Almost every technology company this year, coming from a multitude of IT sectors, has emphasized their investment in AI to take advantage of the hot Generative AI market, and especially, to avoid being saddled with a perception that they are laggards in the space. Barrenechea emphasized, however, that OpenText has a different and more explicitly defined vision of AI than other companies.

“Generative AI is not our destination,” he said. “It’s a way point. Our destination is Artificial General Intelligence [AGI], and getting there will be a decade-long journey.”

Barrenechea referred to the AGI opportunity as massive, including the ability to save 25% of productivity costs, and new annual GDP of $4.4 billion coming from AI.

“This has quickly become a crowded space,” he said. “But I’ve seen the ice cream truck go up and down the street many times. We are more of a cautious company. We believe that AGI is a different vision, with rules-based cognitive engines, and where we think that AI should be built into automation.”

Barrenechea stressed that while OpenText has been making AI technology for over a decade, what is new here is doing it as part of a broader strategic vision.

“We have been providing components, and some AI capabilities and put machine learning into Capture, but while we have had components, we have not  embedded them into our automation – and that’s what we are going with Aviator.”

OpenText Aviator is not the company’s only announcement at OpenText World, but the company does consider it the most important, and so Barrenechea devoted his first day keynote to both Aviator and the broader AI strategy behind it, with the other new announcements coming formally in Thursday.

OpenText Aviator is a new component of OpenText Cloud Editions 23.4. Its role is to significantly increase information automation so organizations can much more easily reorient their businesses around AI.

“Everyone wants to experiment with this,” Barrenechea said. “It is in every conversation today. This has really unlocked the imagination of the enterprise. Information management is essential for AI disruption, and automation and a data platform are prerequisites for an AI strategy. The two work together. Before, enterprises may have wanted to use AI for a specific app, but they didn’t have the app, or if they did have an app they wanted to apply, the data was not ready. You may need more automation or data cleanup to really make use of an AI strategy.”

To this end, Barrenechea announced OpenText Aviator Flight School, for customers who may not have the skills for vectoring or prompt engineering automation.

“This is a packaged program that is available today,” he said. “You give us a million documents, and in two weeks from start to finish it will be ready for AI metadata, along with a full language model, for only $350,000.

“We are also scaling up our team, and introducing Aviator Labs, which is a new practice area for us that is focused around those things like how do you vectorize and how do you do prompt engineering. We have 2000 professional services consultants now. It’s an army.”

OpenText Aviator brings new AI capabilities to the services in OpenText’s Business Cloud. The first ones available, in OpenText Cloud Editions 23.4, begin with OpenText IT Operations Aviator, a generative AI virtual agent for OpenText Service Management Automation X (SMAX).

OpenText DevOps Aviator is a tool which enhances software delivery with generative AI capabilities that optimize software delivery with feature prediction, enhance test coverage with automatic test creation and authoring, and reduce points of risk that impact quality.

OpenText Content Aviator optimizes information retrieval in the workplace with a natural chat interface and natural language queries.

OpenText Experience Aviator integrates Customer Communications Management (CCM) software with generative AI capabilities, for marketing, communications and customer service support teams.

OpenText Business Network Aviator brings generative AI and large language models (LLMs) into the OpenText Business Network, to place the entire supply chain information flow into a single platform

A series of new tools, OpenText Aviator for Technologists, were also announced.

“These are focused on Aviator Studio, and we are using them as an opportunity, quite candidly to reimagine Opentext,” Barrenechea said.

OpenText Aviator Platform offers a suite of tools and connectors to administer enterprise-grade data warehouses, data lakes, analytics of structure and unstructured data, and visualization for intelligent decision-making.

OpenText Aviator Search introduces a new advanced capability to go from clicks to conversations with search that spans all data types across multiple repositories.

“The Micro Focus acquisition strengthened our Search with IDOL, Vertica and other tools, and we really see AI as reinvigorating search,” Barrenechea stated.

OpenText Aviator Thrust & Thrust Studio is a set of robust cloud API services and developer tools built over the last three years for data governance, information protection and security, risk management and compliance, which are all available now.

OpenText Aviator IOT includes a collection of tools to better connect and protect millions of IoT endpoints.

“This is built on Thrust services,” Barrenechea said. “We do not want to break the  relationship between information orchestration and AI orchestration, to they were built into the same tool.

Barrenechea acknowledged that for partners, it is early days.

“We will have key tech partners on the AI side, as we already have on the operational side,” he noted. “We believe in being able to plug in language models, and there are some third party technologies around coding that could be very helpful. We think this will become a strong play for a selective set of partners.”