OpenText CMO on the Future of Documentum & ECM Trends
“Will OpenText invest in Documentum or force Documentum users onto its own Content Server?”
This has been the most prominent question since OpenText, the Canadian enterprise information management vendor, acquired Dell Technologies' Enterprise Content Division (ECD), including Documentum for $1.62 billion in a deal. Last month, here at CMS-Connected, we shed light on this million-dollar question. To follow up this question further and get the inside scoop on what exactly this acquisition will bring to OpenText and what OpenText will bring to Documentum, we reached out to OpenText CMO Adam Howatson, who has been with OpenText in various positions for over 15 years.
As a short answer to that question, Howatson told CMS-Connected that the company will “continue to deliver active investment and active innovation across the entire ECD portfolio, full stop.” To banish the doubts coming from a somewhat distrusting user base, he also gave in-depth insight on the acquisition and the relationship between OpenText and the ECD portfolio as well as the current trends of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market.
What ECD Brought to OpenText
First and foremost, he explained the reasons behind why OpenText ventured to acquire Dell EMC’s ECD Division and said: “ECD brought us a number of different things, not least of which are a geographical coverage, a deep vertical industry expertise, the ECM market leadership, the Leap platform, and a pure SaaS destination platform with a micro-services based architecture that allows for applications to be built upon or have the platform extended providing additional capabilities in the form of applications for an additional microservice.”
According to Howatson, ECD provided OpenText an expanded coverage geographically into markets such as the Middle East, Africa, China, South Korea, Eastern Europe, and Russia, where OpenText may have had some small market share. When it comes to deep vertical industry expertise, he believes that ECD’s expertise, particularly around pharmaceutical and life science as well as the U.S public sector, will help OpenText penetrate into those verticals. He summed it all up by saying: “Certainly some of the products, technologies, and capabilities within that deep vertical industry expertise, an extended geographical coverage, and 2,000 very talented individuals have brought us to an ECM market leadership position which we’re very, very proud of.“
Areas of Focus for ECD Investments
Now that ECD brought a deep vertical industry expertise, OpenText has plans to invest in the specific technologies to provide leading solutions in the key vertical industries, such as pharmaceutical science, public sector, energy, and engineering, brought by the acquisition. The point is combining OpenText’s product expertise with Documentum’s vertical industry expertise and bring the integration back into the Documentum portfolio. So Howatson believes that the two companies together will generate a bidirectional strengthening to deliver a vertical presence, a better product development, and specific solutions for those customers within those market spaces.
He also mentioned that there is a complimentary technology that they expect to see a proliferation throughout the portfolio thus he believes that the users of Documentum, InfoArchive, Leap, and Captiva will see the benefit of integration with the extended OpenText EIM portfolio. OpenText is adding the analytical and discovery capabilities into Documentum, and by virtue of many more upcoming integrations, while the ECD platform once was a preeminently content management centric portfolio, now it is expected to complete the whole EIM story for Documentum customers. Howatson claims that the acquisition stands a huge opportunity for both Documentum customers and OpenText content services customers as OpenText provides Documentum customers an integration with a broader EIM platform while bringing very important capabilities like InfoArchive to the OpenText portfolio.
OpenText will unveil active roadmaps for all of those products directly so that they will be aware of specifically what OpenText is investing in and what they can expect in the next versions. Howatson said: “We’re going to have dedicated roadmaps, we will be investing in innovation for them with the engineers on board with OpenText,” and added: “We’re not forcing customers to migrate to one platform versus the other and we will continue to show and deliver active investment and active innovation across the entire ECD portfolio.”
Trends of the ECM Market
Since Adam Howatson has been in this industry for such a long time, we wanted to pick his brain on the current trends of the market and where will we see the most innovations in the coming year. He said: “90 percent of the information within an organization has been unstructured or semi-structured content, including contracts, power point presentations, word documents, and conversational discussions in the audio format. They all constitute the mass majority of information within the Enterprise.” Therefore, he believes that businesses need a cognitive analytics platform that is capable of conducting unstructured content analysis across more than tens of thousands of documents and giving insights on, for instance, what language their customers are using, when they interact with businesses, what specifically they are asking for, what types of problems they are solving, what sort of solutions they are using, and how businesses have responded to them so far. When it comes to the reason why these types of insights would be important for him as a business owner or a decision maker, he said: “I want to correlate all of that data and surface the major trends because that will help inform me in the way that I take our products to market and I do our positioning and messaging.” Therefore he believes “cognitive solutions and unstructured content analytics will be one of the major trends in the coming years.”
To explain why cognitive analytics is one of the specific areas where we are going to see more and more investments from companies, he also gave this example: “Say, I’m paying 10 million dollars a year to haul 50 petabytes of data. I don’t want to do that for compliance and corporate memory reasons anymore, I want to put that data to work to inform my market, to inform my customer interactions, to inform my selling cycle, to inform my engineering divisions, and I think that will be a pretty profound pivot.”
Another trend Howatson states that we will see more of is the pivot to cloud. He also said: “It’s very much a hybrid world still today,” and explained: “It’s not a binary decision for companies, not like everything goes to a cloud or everything is on premises as it is very much a hybrid approach today but I think, we are going to see continued and increasing options of cloud-based services whether those are NET services or SaaS type of applications, and I think that will be another major trend as well.”
Besides these two big trends which are, again, cognitive and analytical capabilities for unstructured content and the massive pivot to Cloud, Howatson also touched upon the importance of mobile, social and analytics but it is worth noting that he sees them as table stakes rather than emerging trends.
The faith of Documentum has always been hanging around in limbo. However, it feels like this acquisition finally marks the end of the uncertainty about Documentum’s future. I am not saying this based on enthusiastic statements made by OpenText, I am saying this because the acquisition makes sense to me in many ways, and at least makes more sense than its situation with EMC. As we all know EMC is a strong hardware company, while Documentum is a software firm, and naturally, EMC didn’t support Documentum enough as it wouldn’t have served them to sell more storage. On the other hand, OpenText is a software company that offers a platform armed with a rich enterprise information management around its content management system. With this in mind, the ECD products such as Documentum, InfoArchive, and LEAP make this acquisition a natural fit. Besides these, there are also complementary products. For instance, the Life Sciences industry is considered Documentum’s strength, and OpenText already highlighted the values of having Documentum in its Life Sciences Solutions Suite that can immediately benefit both OpenText and Documentum Life.
Another topic discussed with Adam Howatson was the major ECM trends and he said that cognitive analytics and the massive pivot to Cloud are the most emerging ones. I couldn’t agree more with him. While content is doubling every 90 days, 80 percent of content used by knowledge workers for core revenue generation activities is unstructured. This explosive growth of unstructured content is becoming a big challenge for many organizations, especially for enterprises. The problem is that with on-premise solutions, content is managed but not necessarily maximized, but with a cloud-based ECM, content is delivered in line with process creating business value as unstructured information turns into structured information that can be sorted, searchable, or referenced. Furthermore, adding cognitive analytics capabilities to a cloud-based solution ultimately provides organizations with a meaningful productive output instead of a wall of numbers, as Howatson puts.